Taking Dominion: The Gmail Inbox

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Weeehooo! It’s taken me two months, but I’ve finally managed to take dominion over my Gmail inbox. The task, as I initially saw it, was nothing short of monumental. However, communication via email is necessary in my life and it’s been well worth the effort.

     In 1993, I got my first email address from AOL. Then, four years later, a colleague introduced me freedom of an email.com address and I gladly abandoned my AOL account. A few years later I got to know Eudora. Good things happened when I got my welcome letter from the Gmail team on March 23, 2005, and since then I’ve incorporated more than twelve different accounts into Gmail – from numerous providers. I still have my email.com address, though the customer service is deplorable and the cost of maintaining it is rising.

     Soooo…I know where to find stuff. Well, there are times when Gmail’s overzealous spam filters bury people in between hair loss remedies, medical miracle drugs, nursing school opportunities, and hey…I have friends in Kenya who want to borrow money. Nevertheless, I feel oddly comforted that something in my life is uncomplicated. And I’m thankful.

My New Favorite Things in the Kitchen

Several years ago, I was watching a program on HGTV about renovating kitchens. In one episode, a woman was sitting in a big, poofy chair reading a book in front of a fireplace – in the kitchen. The entire fireplace was surrounded with shelves filled with cookbooks. To this day, I get happy thinking about that woman and the happy place she created in her kitchen. It would be no surprise to anyone who actually knows me to hear that the kitchen is my happy place. And this year it got even happier with a few of my NEW favorite things.

eatyourbooks.com_medium EAT YOUR BOOKS: My cookbooks make me smile. And now, thanks to the brilliant mind of Jane Kelly, and the site Eat Your Books, I have found a way to utilize my cookbooks more efficiently. In addition to cookbooks, I also have a collection of food magazines that are neatly tucked away, in date order, in special boxes. Jane’s provided me with a way to access the recipes in the magazines without cutting the magazines to pieces or tagging the recipes with post-it notes. Needless to say I had a fun day taking all the color-coded tags off all the pages. I can; however, tag recipes and write notes in EYB so I can easily find the recipes again.

Here’s how the Eat Your Books site works. Once you register for an account, you begin entering your cookbooks and magazines on to your virtual bookshelf. Many, but not all, of the titles listed on the EYB site have been indexed. That means someone has gone through the cookbook and made an index of all the recipe names and the major ingredients. Let’s say you have a bucket of fennel and you want to find a few recipes that feature fennel. You could go searching through all your cookbooks and magazines (*sigh*) or you could login to EYB, go to your bookshelf, and type in the word “fennel” in the search box. A list of all the books and magazines on your shelf with fennel as an ingredient will appear. That’s how easy it is. You won’t find recipes…the search results will simply point you to the right place to look.

The annual membership for EYB is $25. Okay, that’s four cups of fancy coffee and it’s totally worth it. And, to sweeten the deal, EYB is now indexing recipe blogs, too. Trust me. If you have ten or more cookbooks, you’ll love this site. One more little, but not unimportant, item. Many of the indexed magazines have recipes online. That means you can put a magazine on your virtual bookshelf – that you don’t own – use it to meal plan, and then get directed to the online recipe. It makes me happy just thinking about it. Lastly, it’s a perfectly good reason to buy more cookbooks. Just sayin’.

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FINE COOKING: One of the magazines I really enjoy reading is Fine Cooking. It’s my “go to” magazine for figuring out different ways to use one ingredient. For example, in one issue, they show you how to use carrots as a side dish for Thanksgiving – six different ways. I have hardcopy going back quite a few years, but they’re in a box in the basement so I could make room for more cookbooks. Several months ago, I bought a DVD recipe archive of Fine Cooking magazines going back to the first issue in 1994. The DVD offers lots of little extras like search functions, tips, and more. And, for less than the cost of a subscription, you can get each new year on DVD, too. But, I couldn’t stop there. Keep in mind that Fine Cooking is indexed on EYB, not all 17 years, but it’ll happen. I took the time to convert all the issues to PDF and uploaded them on to my number one favorite thing in the kitchen…

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APPLE iPAD: It’s changed my cooking experience. I’ve now stopped subscribing to magazines in hardcopy. I read them on my iPad using Zinio or some other app, or I upload them to iBooks, or I search recipes in magazines on my bookshelf using EYB. I’m still waiting for the Lucky Peach magazine app to get out of the lab and on to my iPad – the first issue was a thing of beauty. There are several apps available for cooks in the App store, but I find I have such a great variety available on my bookshelf that I rarely need to look elsewhere. And, I also have quite a few eCookbooks, too.  I rarely have excessive “downtime” in my life, but when a moment occurs where I’m waiting in a doctor’s office, at the airport, getting my oil changed, or I can’t sleep at night, I simply pull out my iPad and read a magazine or a book, my Bible, or plan a meal.

In addition to all my print resources, I also have a very large database of recipes. I’ve recently migrated them off of recipe software to Google Docs where I can now access them from anywhere using my iPad. Well, almost anywhere. I’m still waiting for Google to make an really good app to access docs. In the meantime, I use an app I don’t really like, but it works.

I use my iPad outside of the kitchen, too. It keeps the kids entertained for hours, I stalk people on facebook and twitter, I read books and blogs, and I get all the news I need in a 9.5″x7.31″ space.

Maybe one day you’ll find me sitting in front of a fireplace in my kitchen reading a cookbook. Meanwhile, my NEW favorite things make me happier in the kitchen. Well, my knives do, too. Okay, and my cookware. Hmmm…and my food processor. I do love my hand blender. Then there’s the food mill. Did I mention my knives?

Girls & Their Toys

shutterstock_62164For the last five years, I’ve had a good relationship with my Conair hair dryer. My previous dryer, also a Conair, lasted almost twelve years – I loved that old thing and was sad to see it go.

Just the other day I noticed an odd sound coming from it. Listen, when you’ve used an appliance for five years you get to know the sound of it. First it was a soft hum. It slowly progressed to a whiney buzz, followed by a clunking noise. And finally, the darn thing shook so badly I couldn’t hold on to it with one hand. I could tell a part had come loose, but my hair was really wet and, well, I haven’t left the house with wet hair since I was fourteen years old. So I held it as far away from my face as possible, for fear that a piece would fly out and stick in my eye, and managed to get most of my hair dry. My hands and arms were tired from fighting with it. Hey…a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Last night I bought a new hair dryer. I stood in the aisle for fifteen minutes asking myself, “If they make the darn things to fall apart after a couple of years, shouldn’t you just by a cheap one?” Hello, it’s my crown. So I opted for a Conair –  known for hair appliances – and tossed my $23.50 on the counter. Actually, it was a debit card, but I digress.

So I get the thing home and inspect it. Oh My! It has eight more setting than my last dryer and two extra buttons. WeeeeHoooo! And it’s metallic red.

This morning, it took me twelve – that’s 12 – minutes to dry my hair. With my old dryer (may it rest in peace) it took me 37 minutes. I’m not kidding. Now, I’ve got my eye on the vacuum. Maybe it’s time for a new one. I’m just saying.

Google If You Got ‘Em

The March issue of Fast Company showed me a side of Google I didn’t know existed. The truth is, I would still have a crush on Google even if I hadn’t read the article. They take good care of me.

How did I stay in touch with the blogosphere before Google Reader ? I didn’t. I rarely found time to click on all the links and I lost touch with so many people. If you’re reading blogs and you’re not using Google Reader (or something equivalent) you’re wasting a lot of time. But there’s …

Where would I be without my Gmail ? Easy to load when you’re halfway across the world using dial-up and it’s got a pretty good spam catcher, too. And, I can read my Gmail on my “Q” phone. But there’s …

It all fits so nicely on my iGoogle page. My Gmail and Google Reader sit sweetly on my iGoogle page. I picked a calming theme that changes throughout the day, added a calendar widget, a post-it-note widget, and a bookmark widget for my the “really” important links. I don’t have to fetch my stuff…it just comes right to me. How sweet is that?

Hi! My name is Zoe and I’m addicted to Google.

Wonders Never Cease

It’s taken awhile but DSL has finally arrived in Potlatch, Idaho. Three cheers to Verizon for getting their act together and offering all 792 of us fast internet connection.

So, tonight I activated my account and set up the wireless network. WeeeeeHooooo! I walked around the house with my laptop and I get access everywhere. Even in the basement sitting in front of the pellet stove. How sweet is that?

My first blog post from home using DSL. I am a happy girl.

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