My Writings. My Thoughts.

My Vegan Cuisine “Essentials”

// May 1st, 2012 // No Comments » // Vegan

Everybody has staples to their diet – mine just happen to be condiments! After making the decision for our family to start our “health journey” a few months ago, and eating a strictly whole-foods / vegan diet, the first thing I had to get in order were my sauces and flavorings! Here are some of my favorites:

1. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

This stuff is pretty amazing – I have had BLA in my life for at least the past 15 years or so (my Mother-in-law is a health crusader who got my wife into it long ago). When we decided to follow a vegan lifestyle, this stuff became my new go-to flavor!  Veggies, Potatoes, Rice, Quinoa, even fresh hummus, this is the magic unicorn daydreams are made of!  We used to get ours at our local health-food store (Super Natural Market in Bristol) but it can be found cheaper at Price Chopper and even Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck) when it’s on sale!

2. Nutritional Yeast

Feeling cheesy anyone?  I have a little love-hate relationship going with Nutritional Yeast – it can be soooo yummy and sometimes I just don’t feel like being reminded of cheese.  It is worth getting acquainted with this delight – it goes great on salads, pasta, popcorn, potatoes, you name it! *note: beware “brewers yeast” sometimes this is mislabeled nutritional yeast, but it’s not the same thing so play it safe! Bob’s Red Mill makes a large flake version, and Bragg’s and Red Star make nice “shakeable” mini flake versions.

3. Coconut Oil

The health benefits of coconut oil are vast – for a great video and article visit Mercola and get a little smarter.  The high lauric acid content is excellent for your health.  It has a high smoke point, so it’s great for frying – it also is very stable so it stays well outside the fridge (for something crazy like 2 years!)  I keep it in a little tupperware container and use it instead of butter! *note: you want to get “Centrifuge Extracted” Coconut oil – there are a bunch of ways to make coconut oil, and they’re not all the same!

4. Himalayan Salt

Back to Mercola for a little more video goodness… So here’s a mind blower – table salt is like “crack-salt” it’s refined and nasty for your body.  The truth though is REAL salt is excellent for you – it’s necessary for good health!  This pink healthy salt (Himalayan) Tastes AMAZING – it has a wonderful flavor and is actually good for you!  Throw some on the coconut butter you are using for butter to get that creamy salty kick you crave! After much researching, my Toadette got some in little salt mill (grinder) and it gets lots of use around here!  You can also get these really cool Himalayan Salt Slabs for cooking and presenting food – they give a pleasant flavor to food you prepare on them… like a huge human salt lick… mmmmmmm!

Online Garage Sale

// September 17th, 2011 // No Comments » // technology

Beginning to de-clutter today – starting out with my old x10 Home Automation setup – if you havent had the joy of turning on and dimming your lights from a remote control, you should bid a buck and try it out ;)



Exchange 2010 Craziness!

// February 2nd, 2010 // No Comments » // technology

I promised myself that I would posta a Trackback to this blog for helping me out of a pickle today – exchange 2010 is a bit of a bear when attempting to repair a botched install… r

HP Mini 1000 – Update 1

// November 9th, 2009 // No Comments » // technology

Just received a replacement AC adapter this morning via FedEx Priority Overnight envelope… AT THE OFFICE!  Twice on the phone I told HP to send everything to my house because this is my personal computer.  How is communication this hard for a huge company?  I’m just guessing, but there must be hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted because of their inconsistent or un-followed practices and policies.   When the customer specifically requests that he needs to change the shipping address (twice on the same phone call, to the same person) And that person CONFIRMS the request… need I say more?

The speed of them getting this out since my friday phone call was great!  I guess there is at least one good thing I can note; alas, I can not test this adapter until I get home – that is where I left my Mini 1000 with the expectation everything would be shipped there.

HP MINI 1000 Netbook Power Adapter

One more notation: HP has some tight reins on their replacement pieces – I only received the half of the adapter I complained about (the brick and jack that plugs into the laptop) The AC wall plug end-to-adapter cord was left out.  Although this may seem like a silly point, HP may be now trying to weed out those who lie about their adapter being broken to get a second adapter for the “road, office, etc…” by only giving out half and adapter (thus requiring you to use the existing plug from your current adapter).  This is probably a “smart move” on their part, and they’re saving what, $.10 of plastic cord while dropping $15 in overnight shipping, all so I can feel like i got a somewhat cheesy, half-fix?  I’m not really complaining here, but come on… really?

HP Mini 1000 – a mini nightmare!

// November 6th, 2009 // No Comments » // technology

So we’ve had an issue with my wife’s HP mini 1000 netbook ever since I bought it for her for Christmas last year.  I just got off a 1:27:23 phone call with HP and figured I’d spend a little time documenting the issues so hopefully none of my excellent blog readers will think twice before they have to deal with the mind-numbing frustration of HP Totalcare’s customer support.


on Oct. 5, 2009 I called HP about an issue we’ve had with this laptop since day-one.  When the computer is running idle for an indeterminate period of time (i.e. reading an article on a website, waiting for an e-mail, even after just booting the system and waiting for everything to “start up” so the system is ready to go) the system will freeze for 15 – 30 seconds.  During this “freeze” you can move the mouse, click on anything you like (without response) and after the freeze lets-up, the system catches up (like a buffer) and performs all the actions from the first click on.  After some research on the web, I’ve determined the issue probably has to do with a “first-batch” of SSD, of which this system has one.  Usually SSD’s have very fast random read-write speeds, and some early models have a “lag” which make systems almost unusable. Of course I had no idea this was the case, otherwise I would have spent less money on a unit that didn’t have an SSD (solid state drive).

We also had an issue with the power adapter not fully plugging into the unit like it should (we’ve tried a friend’s and an aftermarket adapter, both work fine, this adapter just has “issues”.

The rep at HP promised it would not be any trouble, that they would ship out a box.  Off we go on a path I’m all too familiar with.  I’ve had a number of dealings with HP service (I typically rave about their Proliant servers and coupled support) but I had a horrible experience with a Pavillion DV9000 laptop about 26 months ago  (the incident that prompted me to buy my first macbook pro) and was hoping things would be better this time.

It took me a week to get the laptop off to HP the first time, and they recieved the unit on Oct. 26, 2009.

I just received the “fixed” unit yesterday (11/5/09).  I carefully inspected the condition (The biggest issue I had with my dv9000 was they scratched the top case badly and refused to accept responsibility for the damage.) If anyone knows me, any computer that graces my home stays in protective plastic as long as possible, that’s just how we are ;)  Anyways, I booted the laptop and noticed on the service papers that came with the unit this detailed description of the fix:

Screen shot 2009-11-06 at 2.51.09 PMOk.  I tried to be optimistic: maybe they were able to upgrade the firmware of the SSD – that’s software right?  I went back to the now fully-booted HP mini and reached for the AC adapter that was returned with the unit – in the same position I sent it in.  Did they not even check the power issue?  I plugged it in.  I was right – they didn’t even look at the power adapter.  Trying not to succumb to the sinking feeling that I’d have to DEAL with HP again, I began to use the computer… the freezing issue was still there.  I uninstalled AIM6 and adobe reader 8 (for some reason, these come pre-installed with a “software reload” from HP.  I installed Microsoft security essentials – it downloaded fast enough, but once the computer sits unused during the install process, the lags begin.  Next installed IE8 – the installer (from filehippo) downloaded in seconds, and the install started very zippy – but during the period where the computer scans for malware – and then updates from Microsoft – we’re talking almost 30 minutes into the install, I started to get tired. Next, I downloaded foxit PDF reader – a small, lightweight PDF client to replace Adobe that I uninstalled.  20 minutes into what should have taken about 40 seconds, I closed the computer and resolved to call HP in the morning.

Fast forward to 2 hours ago: I just got off the phone with HP with another frustrating session.  Everyone was “very sorry” and I spoke to at least 4 women all non-english primaries and almost unintelligible accents.  The best of the group was Prava – I could speak to her in a conversive manner – I didn’t feel like she was searching for the correct “response card” every time I asked a question.   At any rate, she assured me that the issue would be taken care of – HP would send me a new power adapter without trouble, and that she would create a “new” order to have the original problem fixed (when an OS reload doesn’t “fix” a computer, the next step is hardware!)

So my last phone call lasted almost 1.5 hours, and 2 out of 4 people I talked to “promised” that I would not have to worry and that HP would take care of me.  Here comes the real test – with approximately 1 month left on my original warranty, how long will this “fix” take for the laptop to really get fixed?

I’ll have to keep you posted.

-Ryan “Toad” Walsh