Jennifer Lawinski

I grew up on the Jersey Shore and became a Brooklynite via Boston, where I learned about chowder, and realized I do indeed love the Philadelphia Eagles more than the New England Patriots. I've written about food, technology, politics, and the environment across the Web, for sites including AOL,, and

I've got two wonderful nieces and two snuggly cats and spend my spare time reading, sailing, learning languages, and watching anything on TLC. Dream destination: Australia.

Sipping on:

Sauvignon Blanc

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    I love Chinese food, but sometimes, the spiciness can be too much. I was eating some General Tso's chicken recently and accidentally ate one of those little dark red chili peppers. You know what I'm talking about. The little ones that look innocent enough but secretly are just waiting to ruin an otherwise wonderful meal by burning your mouth to smithereens. I ate it by accident and thought I'd never put out the fire in my mouth.

    But that's nothing compared to what happened to a diner in China. A 26-year-old man ate a bowl of soup that was so spicy that it burned a hole in his stomach. A HOLE IN HIS STOMACH. What kind of soup was it? Because I think we should all avoid it forever.

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    It's official. Singer Brandy Norwood is off the market. Brandy's rep has confirmed that, yes, she is engaged to music executive Ryan Press. And they are just too cute together. The couple has been posting photos of their romantic Hawaiian holiday vacation on Instagram, and she looks, of course, amazing. The couple first stepped out publicly together last New Year's Eve, and now they'll be heading down the aisle.

    But what do we know about the man who swept Brandy off her feet?

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    In the wake of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, semi-automatic weapon sales have skyrocketed, specifically for AR-15 rifles, the same gun that shooter Adam Lanza used to murder 20 children and six adults on that horrifying day. Gun shops can't seem to stay stocked, and there are even reports of long wait lists for the military rifles. In an even sicker twist, a lot of those weapons seem to have been given as Christmas gifts, and the recipients have been posting photos of themselves, posing with their new assault weapons. And a lot of them are women. Women. Holding assault rifles. WTF?

    Why anyone needs weapons like this who isn't, you know, stationed in Afghanistan, is beyond me. But also, who gives someone else an assault weapon for Christmas???

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    As more Americans, kids especially, are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it's important to have a national conversation about what people should be eating. We need to talk about how we make, sell, and buy our food. But some suggestions are out of line, like that of The New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, who's calling for a ban on soda purchases with food stamps. Because, really, who am I to tell people what they can and can't spend their money on.

    It's an argument with merit: sugary drinks cause obesity, which creates health problems, and therefore we should try to help people make healthier choices. But if you tell someone he or she can't have a soda, what's next?

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    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This year saw some glorious highs, like the camaraderie and triumph of 2012 London Olympics, and some tragic, heartbreaking lows, like the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre and Hurricane Sandy's devastation in New York and New Jersey.

    We saw acts of kindness, and startling acts of rage and violence. And we reelected the nation's first African American president to his second term. Here are some of the news highlights from 2012. What else would you put on the list?

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