Monday, August 29, 2016

Where have I been?

I've been pretty busy for the last week, using all of my spare time to set up my new Surface Pro 4. No time for blogging.

I am trying to simplify my life. In the walkout basement, next to my soap room, is my "office," if you can call it that. I have an older computer with a tower, a BIG screen, a nice wireless keyboard and two printers. Yes, I do often need two printers. One prints double sided without having to raise a finger, the other is the backup workhorse when I have a huge pile of printing to do and limited time.

Then there is the laptop, that I really didn't use much until I discovered how handy it was at the market. Instead of going home with a list of questions posed by my customers, I now just walk over the the laptop and google things. I'm not proud. I explain to my customers what I am doing, as well as giving them some tips to get better information when they do it themselves. And then I discovered that if I put my business apps and data files on the laptop, they were always with me. On slow days at the market, I could catch up on entering information into my accounting software, and since the desktop is really nicer, I could go home and use it, but have it talk to the laptop to get to the data files.

I should have done it with Outlook as well, but I am so afraid of messing up the files. Lots of history in those old Outlook folders, and I can find all sorts of things in that program. However, I am prone to missing meetings, or being very late for them, because I haven't gotten down to the basement to open Outlook and get organized. So I use the internet to open emails at the market, and then have to send a copy of my responses to my Outlook account so I have a record of them when I get home to the desktop, and then there's my Droid - both email accounts are on it as well, and I'm confused - VERY confused!

I have been looking at the Microsoft Surface Pro, as it supposedly could take the place of a laptop. Could it work? Really? One machine, small enough that I could slip it in a handbag, with all of the stuff I have on the desktop and the laptop! I was pretty sure that the Pro 4 would hold all I needed to transfer to the new machine.

I bought one. I moved all of the data files from the laptop over, then started with the desktop files. I RAN OUT OF ROOM! Say what? There were a lot of duplicate files, which I have since taken care of, but I hauled it back to Best Buy with the intention of buying a bigger one, or else just getting another laptop, which would have a whole lot more storage space on it for the same money.

The first thing the salesman did was hit the "RESTART" buttons on side-by-side machines, one a super-fast laptop, the other a tablet (which is what Surface Pro is). The tablet - well, it's almost like turning on a light switch. Push the button, put your face in front of the camera (that's my password) and it's running. My middle name is Impatience, so I said, okay, I need to go one higher on the Surface machines. Oops! Got a thousand dollars to spare? No way!

Then he showed me this tiny little slot into which one can slide a SIM card - like you would put into your digital camera to get more storage. For only $59, it doubled my storage space, and now I have a D: drive, which I kind of like because I can separate the files from my laptop and the files from my desktop. It appeals to my neat and orderly mind.

Back home with the Surface Pro 4, insert the SIM card, and put everything from the desktop onto that tiny little card. In my desktop, I had installed a second hard drive, just for data - one drive for applications, one for data. See, I really do have a neat and orderly mind which I was very thankful for when I had a major crash. Well, sliding a SIM card into a slot was sure easier than taking the cover off a tower, screwdriver in hand! And I can buy more of them for storing archived MSMoney files and old pictures.

Getting Outlook loaded was a bit dicey and required a call to AT&T, but all is working well. I think I'm finally there! I know, I know, it took a whole week, and I am now going to have to put up with all of the Mac people saying how much easier it it with a Mac, but I saved about $2,500. Not bad for a few hours of work crammed into my spare time, and I learned a lot!

Here's a pic of my new little baby. And BTW, if I think I need that big monitor and the ergonomic keyboard, I can hook this up to them in a nanosecond and I'm ready to roll. I'm happy.

Surface Pro 4  Follow this link to see more of what she'll do.

Here she is!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mitch McConnell was down on the end of my block today.

Who knew?

I wonder what he was doing here in Mishawaka.

I managed to snap a few pictures before he got away. Of course, he is a little slow so he wasn't hard to catch up with. All that being said, he did stop for one nice head-on shot. Hoping Jon Stewart sees these pics. I'm sure he will enjoy them.

Way to go, Mitch!

Isn't he lovely?
The river is behind you Turn around!
Onward and upward

Go, Mitch!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Daisy - she was a GREAT British cook!

Someone recently told me about The Great British Baking Show, and I just started watching. Enough with the politics. This is a delightful show, and it is bringing back many memories of my dear mother-in-law Daisy. She put the lie in "boring British cookery." She could cook!

I treasure a handwritten recipe she gave me for how to make treacle pudding. Although she called it "treacle" pudding, it was made with Tate and Lyles Golden Syrup. In the instructions, she wrote that she had David (my husband at the time) hold the string while she tied down the waxed paper that was part of steaming the pudding. Steaming pudding? Had they not heard of Jell-O? Maybe I will share her recipe with you in a future post. Today, I just want to do a shout out for British Grub, also the name of a cookbook she gave me.

When I became part of Dave's family, I learned to understand English without asking Dave to interpret for me when we were alone. I learned to love a woman who loved her son fiercely and eventually took me in, once I had met her approval. I learned to make a proper cup of tea. Daisy said that the Americans couldn't make tea, and the British couldn't make coffee. Agreed. I learned to do both - coffee from my German mother, and tea from my British mother-in-law.

She made tea every morning for Dave's dad, and he rang a bell to let her know when he was awake. She then carried his cuppa into the bedroom and served him his morning tea. She told me she would get me a bell for David. I told Dave if he tried that routine with me, he would be wearing that bell where the sun don't shine!

Our Christmas dinner went from turkey or ham to roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. It was a nice transition. I miss those dinners. Perhaps I will have a proper British dinner for a few friends this year on Christmas Day. I spend my Christmas days alone, since my family does Christmas Eve, and it is crown roast of pork at my son's house. But I do have fond memories of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, finished with treacle pudding drizzled with Bird's custard for dessert, along with hot tea.

What is it with the British and their puddings? "Two great nations divided by a common language." (Attributed to both George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.) Treacle pudding made by steaming, and Yorkshire pudding made in hot beef drippings.  Oh, that Yorkshire pudding, I remember watching it puff up in the oven, browning here and there on the top. It was then cut up and served on the side of the roast beef slices, with good, dark rich gravy over all. Oh, and oven roasted potatoes. She taught me well. I'm sure my grasp of British cooking helped us get over a rough start. But we did, and I cherish the memories of her. She treated my children as her own grandchildren, and they both have fond memories of her.

Daisy also taught me to make a proper English breakfast - with fried bread (in butter, my friends, not lard or bacon fat), sunny side up eggs, and very thick bacon. The other breakfast I often made was her recipe for English crepes. Nothing fancy, but oh, so good. Very thin crepes, hot from the pan, with fresh lemon squeezed over them, then sprinkled with sugar and rolled up. Three to a plate, and garnished with a lemon wedge. And a cup of hot tea made right.

Okay, one full recipe here.

How to make a good cup of tea. 

First pour boiling water in the pot to heat it, swish it around and dump it out. Bring more water to the boil, then turn off. Then throw black tea leaves into the bottom of the pot (I happen to favor Ceylon), use about a heaping teaspoon of tea per cup, then pour the water (not boiling, but still very hot) into the pot. Pop on the tea cozy. If you don't have one, then covering the pot with a heavy dish towel will work fine. Let it sit until you see that the tea leaves have sunk to the bottom of the pot. Then oh so carefully, so you don't disturb the leaves in the bottom, pour into cups that you have also rinsed with hot water. Add lemon or milk depending on your taste, and sugar if you must. There may be a few tea leaves in the cup. But how are you to read your tea leaves to learn your fate if you don't have a few leaves in the bottom?

Reading tea leaves

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rhianna - where oh where did you go?

I got a Roomba 780, named her Rhianna, and happily used her for nearly a month, and just three days before my 30 day return with no questions asked period, she went brain dead.

Oh, how I missed her! But while I waited for my refund (yes,Amazon gave me back every penny, and paid for the return shipping), I did quite a bit of research.

I had a Roomba for years, but she really got to be too expensive to keep going, and I finally sent her to the heap. The 780 was much nicer, bigger bin, could run longer between charges. However, cleaning her up was just as big a pain as it was on my old 500 series. I have the world's hairiest dog, and even with the special tools that came with the newer model, it took a looooooooooooong time to remove hair from dust bin, both rollers, bearing housings and wheels.

I did a lot of research before replacing her, and Monday my new Rhianna, the 880 model arrived. I ran her for the first time yesterday, and I am very pleased. There are no brushes, and I was leery of how well she would take up the dog hairs. She did. No brush to clean. Okay, the jury is still out, but as of today, I am very happy with this newer model. I just came home from a forty-five minute trip to pick up my Mantis roto-tiller (that's another story for another day), and she had cleaned the whole living room floor and was safely back in her docking station.

Looks like perhaps Rhianna II and I are going to become new best friends.

Rhianna II

Low Carb Black Bean Salad

You will see me referring to "net carbs" and "dietary fiber" in this and other blogs. How do you get net carbs? Start with the total carb count, and then look for an entry that reads "Dietary Fiber." If there is no entry for dietary fiber, then you have to count all of the carbs listed.  If there are dietary fiber grams listed, subtract them from the carb count. Voila! You have the net carbs count. That means if you want to eat something that has a lot of carbs, what might have looked like it was out of bounds can be okay once you have backed out the total dietary fiber grams.

Black soybeans are a good example. I discovered that black soybeans can be used just like turtle beans. This means that my chili is no longer without beans. And best of all, I can make my favorite black bean salad, which I thought was gone from my diet forever.

Now some might argue that we shouldn't eat ANY kind of soybeans. Pardon if I digress, but there are some legitimate arguments against soybeans. They contain phyto-estrogens, so some doctors encourage their patients who are dealing with breast, unterine and ovarian cancers to cut out soybean products, including soy milk and tofu, since estrogen can aggravate cancer of reproductive organs. And what about baby formula? If a baby gets virtually 100% of its diet from soy formula, it is getting the equivalent of five birth control pills every day. That just doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

Soybeans are also high in phytic acid. Why should you care? Because phytic acid binds to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron. What that means is that it acts like a little vacuum cleaner and sweeps them out of your system. We really ought to hang onto them, don't you think? However, if you don't eat black soybeans every day, if you save them for a now-and-then treat, if you add just a few to a pot of chili so that you discover a bean or two in every spoonful, then I think they are okay. And so far as I am concerned, they are certainly better for us than a piece of pie.

Many people think that dry beans must be low carb. Au contraire. They are loaded! One cup of black turtle beans will set you back 116 carbs. (If you read my blog very often, by now you probably know the magic number for low carbers is 50 grams of carbs - or less! - per day.) You do get to deduct the 29 grams of dietary fiber to get to net carbs, but that is still 87 net carbs, or one full day's carbs plus three fourths of the next. And that's without adding some onions and cilantro to the dish. On the other hand, there are 16 grams of carbs in a cup of black soybeans, and 14 grams of dietary fiber, for a net carb count of only 2 grams. That leaves some room for a few veggies in the salad. And a couple of deviled eggs.

Here is my recipe for Black Bean Salad. If you are in the "hate" column for cilantro (there are only lovers and haters of cilantro, in my experience, no in-between), use parsley. You can use another cheese, so long as you choose one that holds its shape pretty well when the dressing is poured over.


2 cans (15 oz. each) Edens Organic Black Soybeans (do not substitute other types of black beans - see intro to this recipe)
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled or cut into 1/4" dice
1/2 C. finely chopped celery
1/4 C. finely diced red onions
1/2 C. roughly chopped cilantro (I'm in the "love" column - see intro)
Juice from one juicy large lime, or two not so great limes (3 to 4 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. good, fruity olive oil
8 to 10 sliced green pimento olives
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

Rinse the beans well and drain thoroughly. Throw them and all of the other ingredients in a big bowl, stir to combine, and let sit on the counter for about an hour to blend flavors. Give it another stir every now and then if you are so inclined. Then refrigerate until ready to eat.

Makes 10 half cup servings as a side dish, or 5 one cup servings as a main course. (Double the macronutrient values if using as a main course.)

Carbs Fat Protein Calories
TOTALS 2.27 9.27 9.41 141.09
% of total 10.8% 44.3% 44.9%

Ingredients at the ready