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Groundhog Naturals

Well, I did it. Pushed myself out into the universe a little more.

Back in roughly September, with significant help, I launched an organic and natural foods buying club. I called it Groundhog Naturals because Groundhog Day, aka Imbolc, is my favorite holiday. This is when spring truly starts to walk around, when we're able to start to seeing the difference in light. It was my absolute favorite time of the year in Florida because it was when the trees started turning green again. The only thing I like about February in Connecticut is that the light begins to visibly return when we reach February.

There are three actively-ordering members of the club right now and I'm ready to expand. It's time to spread the word now that I've worked out some processes.

I called the Glastonbury Citizen today and placed an ad in the Rivereast Bulletin. The latter is a free publication that with a circulation of lots. It covers my general area - in fact, for my town and the little towns around me, it's the only paper. For $18, I put in a classified ad for two weeks in the Rivereast for Groundhog Naturals. Next time I buy a classified, I'll go with both papers, but this was a good start with my limited budget.

People quite literally comb over these two papers - the Citizen and the Rivereast, as they are called. So at least a few people will see my little ad. Not sure where it will go in the paper, but it was deemed completely acceptable by the lady.

It reads like this:

Wholesale discounts on organic and natural foods and products. Join the Groundhog Naturals Buying Club at groundhognaturals.com or call Marlene at 860-xxx-xxxx.


Meme: Places you'd visit in North America

Today's topic comes from kshandra, who got it from someone else on Dreamwidth, slightly modified:

Five places you would visit on the North American continent (other than Black Rock) if money and health were no objects.
I'll add: and if driving were not an issue.

1) I'd spend two weeks at the Beach Club concierge during the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. Wilderness Lodge concierge at Christmas. And I'd go back in February and bounce around different resorts

2) I'd go back to Bar Harbor and stay at the Bar Harbor Motor Inn with a room that overlooked the water.

3) I'd visit major Mayan and Aztec ruins in Mexico. Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Mexico City, etc.

4) I'd visit New York City. Really visit it. Stay there. Go to restaurants. Soak in museums. Go to Shakespeare in Central Park. Go to independent bookstores. I'd do that for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland-Oregon, San Diego. Maybe some other cities, but those would be the first.

5) I'd want to drive down the California coastline. All the way from Oregon to San Diego.

Gluten-Free Pizza

I tried a gluten-free pizza from a local pizza place last night. They make fabulous pizza, so I thought - okay, they probably wouldn't sell craptastic gluten-free pizza.

It was great. I could eat that and not miss regular pizza.

Notably, I was not in agony last night. My abdomen didn't blow up and my shoulders and knees weren't aching. I was able to sleep last night on my shoulders. I drank plenty of Diet Coke to see if that would create a problem, but it didn't. I really expected to have the same physical reaction to the gluten-free pizza as I do to regular pizza, but I didn't.

It's not the best pizza in the world. But, it's damn good. And a far cry from crappy frozen pizza. It is thin crust, which is not my favorite, but that's fine. I saved one piece to reheat in the microwave - it totally passed the microwave test.

So, basically, I'm thrilled. Pain-free pizza.

I am still not willing to admit that I have a gluten or wheat intolerance. But I am motivated enough at this point to search for pain-free pizza.

The pizza from this particular local place, and there are five close to me, causes me the least amount of pain after I eat it. I did order a second -regularnormal- pizza just in the gluten-free was craptastic. I did not eat any last night. I will eat that today and see what happens physiologically.

Locally-sourced gluten-free pizza from pizza 🍕experts in the Pizza Belt. #glutenfree #pizza #pizzaissacred
Promised myself I would give myself permission to cook again. I'd found a recipe that I really wanted to make - an apple chai cake. I do not crave sweets, so I am left with a huge cake, but it's all good.

I really wanted to try out my new-from-last-year apple peeler. So, yesterday, when I left my therapist's office, I bought a bag of Grammy Smith apples at Aldi:

Let"s test out this apple peeler. Apple Chai cake in the works.

The entire contraption is right-handed and I am generally ambidexterous, but with these sorts of things I am very much left-handed. I couldn't get it to work until I put the apples on backwards. And the handle goes counter-clockwise when you are left-handed. This was hilarious. But after I reversed *everything* I was completely amazed:

This feat of mechanics is freakin" awesome. #applepeeler #applecake

I peeled that entire bag in what was essentially ten minutes, after I got the thing working backwards properly. I had a bowl of lemon-water waiting for the apples.

The peeling of the apples was so easy that I didn't expect the assembly of the batter to take so long, but for some reason it did. And then the apples needed to be dried, broken up from their spirals and then tossed in a spice mixture. When the cake came out of the oven, it looked like this:

Apple Chai cake just out of the oven.

I have switched to using the Camera+ app on my iPhone and it takes infinitely better photos. I waited for the cake to cool and turned it over:

Apple Chai spice cake, right side up.

The recipe called for a maple cream cheese icing, so that's what I did:

Apple Chai Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing.

I waited for a while and then sliced into it. I was somewhat astonished to find that it was fantastic. I'm not bragging. I just was really surprised that it was as good as it was. Came out remarkably like the recipe's picture.

Recipe notes:
1) I would dial back the ground cloves to 1/2 tsp
2) I doubled the amount of vanilla
3) I doubled the amount of cream cheese, mainly because I didn't want to be left with half a box of cream cheese

Slice of apple chai cake with maple cream cheese icing.

I ate that slice and now I'm good, I don't want any more.

In the middle of the night it occurred to me that I could freeze it in sections, so I will do that. Every now and then I could take out a slice and that would be neat.

Pretty psyched. It felt good to be cooking.

I used Calibre

Learned something interesting this morning. I have been working hard at converting a published hardcopy book into an acceptable e-format. The author had uploaded a PDF of her book to Amazon and it came out very badly. (The book was only available on Kindle; that's how I saw how bad it was.) I proposed to fix it in exchange for her services. I decided to use Smashwords as a distribution tool for non-Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing for Amazon.

I finally finally finally finished fixing the book yesterday. So, I uploaded it to Smashwords to distribute it out to the world (iBooks, Barnes & Noble, library repositories, etc.)

Smashwords came back late last night and said "nope, your book failed epubcheck, you will never be a published author ever ever ever unless you fix all of these errors and chances are you can't so hire someone already."


So this morning I said "Oh yeah? Show me."

Smashwords said "Go here to the online epubchecker thingy and it will show you."

So I did and yep, there were lots of indecipherable errors. I tried to track them down via Google and what I found gave me significant pause. I had seen that the upload had reduced the quality of the photos, but this was crazy.

But then I thought "I couldn't possibly have effed up the book that badly."

Smashwords made me convert my .docx Word file to a .doc file, which I then uploaded. I thought to myself "Self, I know that Word's conversion abilities are diseased at best." And then Smashwords further converts the document into epub and other formats.

So then I converted my own pure Word document into epub all by my lonesome. I then uploaded that file to the online epubchecker. And voila, 'twas perfect. All of the photos are perfect. The text doesn't flow perfectly in some spots, but I can fix that easily. All of the photo funkification I noticed last night was gone.

I headed back over to Smashwords, overrode their "Word doc only unless you really are an expert and you probably should have hired someone anyway" message and uploaded my clean new perfectly beautiful approved epub file.

And right away the message came back saying that I'd passed their epubcheck.

Because really. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Never assume it's all your fault.

It's my birthday!

Yay! It's my birthday! The weather will be just beautiful - clear skies, high 60sF to low 70sF. Wonderful.

Very little time because I slept later today.

Spiralize All the Things!!

A couple of weeks ago, on a lark, I ordered a Spiralizer. Actually, I've been wanting one for a while now and I finally decided to order it.

Tried it out today. I spiralized three Russet potatoes into one pie dish and one large sweet potato into another pie dish.

I'm really liking the shape.

I took the sweet potato noodles and shook over them some cinnamon mix from Pampered Chef plus some brown sugar. I massaged the noodles with that mixture and then dotted butter over the top. Covered the dish and put it into the oven. Came out fantastic. I want to try this with apple ribbons. And put roasted sweet potato noodles with caramelized onions on a pizza. Baked sweet potato curly fries. And so forth.

I am able to digest this very, very well. Thrilled.

Here is a picture of the single raw sweet potato, cut into noodles. I think if you're trying to stretch vegetables, this is an amazing way to do it:

Spiralizer Raw Sweet Potato


Okay deep breath. At work now. Good.

I am damn determined to be kind to this technician tomorrow. I will do that and keep my trap shut.

Besides, there is phenomenal news today. So many of my friends in Florida can get married today. That's far more important.