Showing posts from 2020

Molasses (nope, Maple Syrup) Cookies (made with Rice Flour)

I decided to make some cookies, and due to SIBO, I needed to find a recipe that excluded wheat flour, milk and milk chocolate. How about Molasses cookies? I found a recipe from Bon Apetit that looks like I could alter. I bought white rice flour and looked up if I could have molasses per my low FODMAP diet, and found out that I cannot! However, I could have maple syrup, and while not nearly as thick as molasses, it still has a sweet dark flavor, and could thicken it using cornstarch.  After the cookies were done and I ate one (or three, they're small) I deemed the altered recipe good enough to repeat and write up in the recipes portion of my website, calling them Ginger and Maple Syrup Cookies . The cookies are light and puffy and are similar to a mild ginger cookie. I'm looking forward to trying these again in the future with molasses to see how the taste changes.

Advent Beer #24

 O'Shea's Winter Ale is a comforting cinnamon and clove spice ale, perfect for Christmas Eve. It is sweet and malty with a little bit of bitterness from the hops. A great ale, and I'd rate it 8/10, my highest rating. It is an excellent example of a spiced ale, similar to one of my favorite beers, New Belgium Pumpkick, a pumpkin beer with cranberry. A great beer to end Advent with, Merry Christmas to all!

Advent Beer #23

The last it-was-an-IPA-that-I-gave-away beers. It's still a good beer, and very reminiscent of Blue Moon. I'd keep the 6/10 rating - it isn't as refreshing as Blue Moon. I'm looking forward to the last beer tomorrow! 

Advent Beer #22

 The Traditional Irish Stout is sweet and malty and delicious, much better than the Robust version I drank a few weeks ago. I'd rate it a 7/10 and would happily buy it and drink it again! There was no bitter greens taste like the Robust. It is very drinkable and pleasant!

Advent Beer #21

 Kristoffel Belgian Blond Ale is malty and sweet and delicious. It has vanilla and caramel notes, and tastes similar to the Gulden Drak Belgian Quad, just not as cloyingly sweet. I'd rate it pretty high, at a 7/10, as it was very easy to drink and an excellent winter beer. I suppose I ought to look more into Kristoffel beers, as I enjoyed the other two as well.

Advent Beer #20

  White Tide is a Belgian White that has citrus and coriander forward, and tastes a lot like a Blue Moon. It isn't as citrusy as a Blue Moon, however. It's delicious, for someone who likes wheat beers and found it very drinkable. There's nothing that makes it stand out, though it is a fine beer on its own. It isn't quite as good as the Kinroo Blue, but very close. I'll rate it a 6/10, though I'd almost give it a 6.5, in the fact that it isn't bad at all, just nothing more interesting than the Kinroo or Blue Moon. Happily drink it at a party, or buy it if Kinroo or Blue Moon weren't available.

Advent Beer #19

 Bacher takes a bit to get used to, but I'd say it's between the terrible Brens and the sleeper hit Saint Alena. It's drinkable, a little bitter in the front, sweet in the follow through that dissolves into a small bitter aftertaste, but overall not bad. I'd rate it a 5/10. I wouldn't go buy it, but I'd drink it at a party. 

Advent Beer #18

  I don't have a lot to say other than, December 18th must have had an IPA for me to pull another beer. I didn't really look at the numbers when putting the other beers in, so it ended up being a coincidence that today's beer was yesterday's beer! I'd still rate it 7/10.

Advent Beer #17

 The Kinroo Blue is a Belgian white ale with citrus flavors. It tastes a lot like a Blue Moon. Maybe Kinroo means Moon in some language! If I had some peach schnapps I could make a Kinroo Peach! (One Toledo bar had a special - Blue Moon beer with a shot of peach schnapps - they called it a Peach Moon, and it was excellent, if not fruity and sweet.) As I'm a big fan of wheat and white beers, I'd rate this a 7/10. It's a great beer if you like wheats or whites. Easy to drink and delicious!

Advent Beer #16

 I nearly drank all of this beer before starting the review. At least I can say this blonde beer is drinkable. But I struggle to find something remarkable about it - good or bad! I do think the label looks pretty cool, and the word Sezoens is cool, though I guess it just means "seasons". I was surprised to see it is "double dry-hopped" since it's not bitter beer. After some very small amount of research, dry hopped beers are both more bitter and less bitter than wet hopped beer, depending on the IBU. Also, some person in made the comment " Yes,  dry hopping  will add  bitterness , but  not  in the usual sense " so that just clears it up. If I had the time and inclination, I'd do proper research. But, back to what I think about this beer. I like it in a "I'll order one if a good wheat isn't available" and it's really easy to drink. I'll rate it a 5/10. Tasty, but not amazing,

Advent Beer #15

  O'Shea's Irish Red Ale tastes like a slightly more bitter Smithwick's beer. It's certainly not bad, and very drinkable. It had nice malts, and the bitterness wasn't awful, it was just more than other red ales I've drank before. I'd rate it a 5/10. I wouldn't buy it, as Smithwick's is better, but I wouldn't turn it down if I were given it for free. 

Advent Beer #14

 Imperium Lager Beer is much better than I had considered it would be. I was ready to rate it about the same as the Heineken-like green beers I've had thus far, and it is not like those at all! I'd even say this is at the same rating as the wheat beers. It is only very mildly hoppy, and moderately malty and moderately sweet. It's a well balanced and delicious beer. I'd rate it a 7/10.

Advent Beer #13

 Another IPA-switch-for-possibly-better-beer. Brens, I don't think, is better. I rated it a 2/10, and I still would.  You may have noticed I'm not always mentioning the coffees. It turns out that I don't care much for flavored coffee, unless it's flavored with a syrup. This is just coffee grounds from a KCup that have a label of "White Chocolate Mocha" or "Hazelnut Coffee Cake" and they taste like coffee with a hint of chemicals and sweetener. The non-flavored coffee is good, but there isn't enough of a difference between them for my amateur palate. "This coffee tastes like coffee" isn't a terribly good description between 24 different cups. Over the weekend, I tried wheat to see if I had any SIBO reactions. Day 1: Two pieces of wheat bread - no reaction. Day 2: Four pieces of wheat bread - no reaction. Day 3: 2 Multigrain waffles for breakfast and Angel Hair Pasta with Rao Sensitive Marinara for dinner - moderate pain at 10pm that

Advent Beer #12

  I did wonder if the Belgian-ness of this beer would save it from its India Pale Ale-ness, a flavor/style that I do not like. It... kind of did? I'd say it was the best IPA I've tasted, more citrus forward, but still held a fair amount of pine flavor and bitterness that is found in IPAs. I would drink it if I were told to drink an IPA, else suffer harm. I wouldn't drink it in any other situation, though. I probably could have powered through, but I didn't really want to. The beer did not "spark joy", so after five swallows, the rest of the beer was drank by the sink. I'd rate it a 3/10, but if I were to rate it in my IPA scale, it'd be like a 8/10, as most IPAs make me grimace at a sip, and this didn't!

Advent Beer #11

Another wheat beer, wonderful! This was an unfiltered wheat with citrus notes instead of banana and clove. I liked it very much, but realized that I hadn't had any unfiltered wheat beers that are citrus forward. Most citrus forward wheat beers I've had have been filtered, which gives them a more refreshing quality. This, while being good, wasn't 'refreshing'. I'd rate it as a 7/10. If it had banana and cloves or was filtered, I would have bumped up the rating to 8.   

Advent Beer #10

  The Robust Stout is rather... robust! It smelled of chocolate and caramel and tasted of chocolate and... bitter greens at the beginning, but it toned down at the aftertaste and was just a normal sweet stout. The bottle has the description "Chocolate, Crystal and Oat Malts." I'm unsure what a Crystal malt is, so I did a little research. I guess Crystal malts are Caramel malts, but not all Caramel malts are of the Crystal variety. I tried to get over the bitter greens taste in the front, but I couldn't do it. I felt bad because the rest of the taste was rather nice. I ended up pouring the rest of it down the drain. I'll rate it a 2/10, and I think that if it were someone else tasting it that likes bitter beers and stouts, they would rate it higher. If it was just the stout taste that I get at the end, I would have rated it higher, like a 5/10. 

Advent Beer #9

 Another was-an-IPA spot that I switched out with a different beer I thought I'd like better. I also decided not to drink, again, but I bet it will be tasty once more when I do try it! The coffee was Organic Rainforest, which just tasted like medium roast coffee. A little sweeter than a random store brand, which is nice, but nothing is extraordinary. 

Advent Beer #8

 You may notice this beer is the same as Advent Beer #1. Before Advent, I fished out all of the IPA beers (There were 5) and I gave them to one of my friends, who likes IPAs, as I do not, and didn't want them to go to waste. I didn't feel like drinking beer last night, and opted for green tea, instead. I have several boxes of Twinings Green Tea with Strawberry and Pomegranate, so I finished the evening with two cups of that instead. The coffee of the day was Caramel Pecan. It only smelled and tasted of caramel which I was happy with, since I don't care for pecans!

Advent Beer #7

 Saint Alena is surprisingly good for a beer I was predisposed to not liking, after having the Brens. It starts a bit like Heineken, but follows with a sweetness like a St. Pauli Girl. I'd rate it a 4/10. Drinkable, and if it were what I was offered at a party, I'd take it. Other than that... I'd leave it, for better beers!

Advent Beer #6

  This Irish Lager was billed as a well balanced beer between hops and barley. It reminded me of a PBR. Apparently, lagers aren't that much better across the pond. I'd drink it if I were at a party and that's what they had, but I wouldn't buy any for myself. In fact, I poured half out, and opened a wheat beer instead. Rated 3/10. The advent coffee was Organic Colombian. It was nuttier and somehow drier, if you can call a liquid dry. The coffee was fine, but nothing I was excited about.

Advent Beer #5

  The fifth Advent beer is Kristoffel Belgian Dark Beer. I'm a fan of Belgian dark beers as well as bocks, marzens and Kasteel's Chocolate Quad. This Kristoffel dark beer is very drinkable and smooth and enjoyable. I'd rate it a 6/10. Something I would happily drink if given to me, or buy if it were on sale.  The coffee for the day was Brazilian. There wasn't anything particularly remarkable about it, but it was very nice and a bit sweeter than the normal store brand that I had second.

Advent Beer #4

  Today's beer is O'Shea's Celtic Wheat Beer. I am a big fan of wheat beers, so this one wasn't bad, but there was not an interesting characteristic. Most wheat beers I've had are either citrus forward or banana/cloves forward. This is just... wheat. There is no strong aroma out of it, either. It's almost like you could chew it, it's so wheaty. I'd give it a 5/10. Drinkable, and I'd drink it happily if given to me for free, but I wouldn't be seeking to purchase it. The coffee of today was White Chocolate Mocha. It smelled lovely, but tasted of that fake chemically chocolate. I paired it with my oat milk, which helped. I think if I were to have a mocha, I'd just do it properly by adding some chocolate to good coffee.

Advent Beer #3

  Brens is a German style lager made in Belgium. It looks like a Heineken, smells like a Heineken and tastes like a Heineken. Also, I don't like Heinenken. I'd rate this beer 2/10. I didn't finish it, I wouldn't want it for free, but it isn't a bad beer. It's just in a style I dislike. I'm sure people who like Heineken would think it was excellent! The coffee of the day was Organic Peru. It smelled like a medium roast but tasted more bitter than a medium. It was fine, but nothing I would want to seek out.

Advent Beer #2

  Excellent, a wheat beer! And, it is a German one, which means it'll have banana and clove forward instead of citrus and coriander. It makes the beer taste sweet but not sharp like the latter. I'd rate this beer a 7/10. Very tasty, and would order one if the price wasn't steep. Absolutely would happily drink it if I were given one.  Today's coffee was a Costa Rica blend that smelled very dark but was sweet and very drinkable. I'd have more of that, if I could ever find out how to buy more at Aldi.

Advent Beer #1

  The Wernesgrüner pilsner is sweet but pale and has more character than the American pilsners I've had before. I wouldn't buy it for myself, as I am not big on pale beers, but if given to me for free, I'd take it. I'd rate it 4/10. Drinkable, but not something I'd like to have again. As far as the coffee and cheese advent calendars, I decided to not start on the cheese until after my low FODMAP diet is over, and when I opened up today's coffee, it was "Apple Pie" flavored. Since apple is high FODMAP I didn't want to take my chances, and I'll relegate it to the 'after FODMAP' pile. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow!

Weeks 1 and 2 of the FODMAP diet and Epicured food service

 I started the low FODMAP diet on November 16th after a very painful weekend. By that Thursday, the 19th, I was notified that I was indeed SIBO positive and prescribed an antibiotic, which I picked up on Thursday and started that night. This week, I've had little pain until Thanksgiving day, where I woke up with severe pain that persisted for a good hour, then I spent the rest of the day in moderate pain. It wasn't until Friday morning that my pain was down to mild for most of the day, and on Saturday it's been intermittently mild. I'm unsure why Thursday was such a difference in pain since I had been on the antibiotic for a week, hadn't eaten anything other than low FODMAP meals, and drank plenty of water and green tea. I'm glad that the pain eventually subsided. I ordered a few meals from Epicured, as I wanted to have a proper Thanksgiving meal. Stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and chocolate chip cookies. (Turkey was just from the grocery store.) Since the shi

SIBO Positive and the low FODMAP diet

 I started the low FODMAP diet on Monday after a weekend of mild to moderate pain for most of the time. As much as I disliked the idea of changing up my normal grocery purchases I also dislike the months of pain, especially the days where I woke up in pain, worked all day in pain, and went to bed with pain. The probiotic that the doctor suggested wasn't helping much, and I decided to start the low FODMAP diet on Monday, even though I hadn't gotten the results from the SIBO test yet. Monday, I had eggs and ham and went to the store for more low FODMAP foods, like pork tenderloin, rice, quinoa, gluten free bread, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, bell peppers, approved tea, coffee, eggs, carrots, lettuce, and rice noodles. My balsamic vinaigrette from a previous trip already was approved. At least I have salads and eggs and cereal for when I didn't feel like cooking a proper meal. By Monday night, all my abdominal pain was gone. It was amazing. Around 9pm, I realized I didn't hurt an

The Start of the FODMAP diet

 My GI doc suggested I follow a FODMAP diet for a few weeks to attempt to eliminate foods that could be troubling my stomach for the last few months. It's a very restrictive diet, and people often lose weight on it, something I'd rather not do. Luckily, this is an elimination diet, not a lifestyle diet (At least I hope not!) to see if there is a food or food group that irritates the most. The issues started very suddenly and severely in late August and haven't really gotten resolved even though the pain has lessened. I've eaten roughly the same diet since March, so I can't imagine it's that, but it's at least something I can start with. I found a few food delivery services, but they were $12 - $14 per meal, and even if I eat two meals per day, that would be over $350 dollars for two weeks of meals, after considering taxes and shipping. I think I can do better than that. It looks like while oatmilk (and oats and milk) aren't on the allowed list for FODMAP


 Recently, I had to undertake the SIBO 10 tube Lactulose breath test. The test itself wasn't too bad. But the preparation was the worst part. For 12 hours, you follow a strict diet, then you do a 12 hour fast, and after that, you do the 2.5 hour test. The allowed foods on the diet were only: Eggs Lean meat (baked or broiled) White Rice Black Coffee Plain Tea Water For seasoning? Minimal salt, pepper, and olive oil. That's it. I bought a box of white rice, two ham steaks, and a dozen eggs. For lunch, I hard boiled some eggs, made the white rice, and lightly pan fried, without oil, a ham steak. It was ok.  I called the testing company to see if chicken stock was allowed, as it was allowed from different companies, and I learned that it is, if it doesn't have seasoning. I also asked about my ham. Oh, that is NOT allowed! Crud. I can't start the diet now, because it would be awful to start the fasting between 12:30am and 12:30pm, then have the test (with no food or liquid e

The Start of the Virtual PASS Summit Conference

 Normally, I would be in a conference this week, somewhere other than North Carolina. Last year I was in Orlando. The two years previous, I was in Seattle. This year, I was supposed to be in Houston. But the pandemic came and stayed and travel isn't encouraged. The conference is virtual instead, and the sessions are viewable to attendees 12 months after the conference ends, which is a nice treat. I also found another advantage to the online sessions not really being time-based except for the chat portion (and I didn't normally interact with others at the conference in person, so interacting with people online isn't going to be a pull for me, either.) If a session talks about "Monitoring and Tuning Your Databases as a Service Performance", something I'm interested in but have little experience in, I can just wait until another session is available, "A Beginner's Guide to Becoming a Performance Tuner", watch that, then go back to watch the first vi

Aldi Advent Shopping Experience

 Last year, I got to Aldi at 7am and was second in line for the wine and cheese calendars. This year, I expected more people to be lining up with the pandemic on - they'll want to have something to do on Wednesday morning, and something to continually open throughout Advent season. One of my friends who I've not seen since March agreed to meet me at Aldi at 6:30am on November 4th. She and I were the first ones to arrive, and the only ones at the store until 7am, when one other girl showed up. Slowly, around 7:30am, a few more people lined up, and by the time the store was about to open, there were 50 people. Not bad. The store manager came out to hand out the advent calendar tickets, and informed us they had no wine calendars. In fact, no wine calendars were given to North Carolina at all! My friend and I considered for a brief moment driving the hour north to Virginia in hopes to catch a wine calendar there, but decided to stick with our consolation prize - he did have plenty

Weekly Posts

Laura of late August: Yeah, weekly posts! That'll be easy, I've been doing daily posts! Laura of early October: I feel like I have nothing to write about, and I also don't want to write. Laura of late October: Medical issues and work abound! No time or mental space for writing! But I have more faith in Laura of November. It's true that I took the first two weeks of October kind of "off" and did stuff that didn't really help me long term. I looked at my financial accounts too much. I looked at Reddit too much. I watched YouTube too much. If I learned anything, it was that I was not any happier by overusing those things, and I should probably cut back or quit. In late October, my annual review was due, and I'd wanted to write how I had learned how to use SQL Server Integration Services. After all, I had started a book in the early summer (that I had purchased in 2014) and I should be able to finish by the time the review needed to be handed in, if I work

Flying Through Books

 I've been flying through books over the last few weeks. I finished Book 4 of the Chronicles of Prydain, then moved on to Book 5, The High King. Both were enjoyable, though I wasn't particularly pleased with the end, as the characters that part act as if it will be forever, even though they were called to Prydain during trouble, so why wouldn't they come back once the High King is indeed in trouble again? Regardless, it was a great adventure, and satisfying wrap up while visiting characters mentioned in the other four books. I'm looking forward to reading the prequel that was just published. I also finished Rainbows End, a sci-fi thriller. It was excellent, though there were a lot of subplots going on. One of the difficult things was to keep track of the characters - sometimes they were referred to using their last name, or their first name, or a nickname, so it was sometimes confusing to keep everyone in straight. Beyond that nitpick, I really enjoyed the different plo

I attempted three new recipes this weekend

For brunch, I made some Gourgeres: For dinner, I made Golden Rice with Salmon and Furikake, with a side of spicy cucumbers:  I would have gotten better photos, however I was entirely too hungry and barely managed to snap these photos before eating it all! My goal was to cook this weekend from the food magazines I'm subscribed to. I also made General Tso's Chicken and stir fried some baby bok choi. I would have photographed that, but I ate it too fast. I really need to start cooking a little bit earlier!

2020 North Hills 5K

  My fastest ever 5k! I'm really pleased. The weather was gorgeous and I ran with my running partner - we've run the North Hills 5K together since 2017. The temperature was around 72 with low humidity. I enjoyed the run and it didn't seem like work until about 2.25 miles in. Everything felt great, and I recovered well, too! I'll continue running into winter since I'll be working from home and can run during my lunch hour when the daylight hours are shorter. I'm really happy to have done so well and feel so good throughout! 2016: 51:06 2017: 45:12 2018: 48:15 2019: 48:44 2020: 42:49

August Exercise Finished

I managed to exercise outside every day in August and only got rained on once! I did two 5ks, one near my home and one using the actual race course for the virtual 5k that I've run every year since 2016. I'll run it one or two more times and submit the best time for my 5k this year. I'm pleased I was able to do something every day and not suffer much in regards to injuries. I did injure my toe on August 10th which is why I took almost 2 weeks off of running, just to be sure I don't injure it further before I run for the 5k. It seems I timed it just right, as my toe hasn't been given me any problems! Pretty neat to see that I exercised almost 21 hours and burned nearly 8,000 calories this month.

A Full Year of Blogging Finished!

I made it - a blog post every day from August 26, 2019 to August 26, 2020! While I didn't technically write every day - I burned out in late June but spent several days in early July catching up - this is a goal I'm very happy about! I feel like many of my big ideas fizzle out after a month and if they don't, they rarely pass the 3 month mark, but I can say that I blogged for an entire year! It's been quite a year, as well. While I didn't do all of the challenges I had planned, I did do some of them, and I at least understood my limits. I also happened to pick a year that had a global pandemic, so that's unique... I hope! I completed a few 5ks.  I shared the 'extensive' research on Aldi's wine and cheese Advent calendars.  I went to the gym every day in December (except Christmas day and the one day that was unseasonably warm so I took a walk instead).  I did the No Sugar challenge in January to great success, but learned that if I were to do that ag

I'm a hurricane!

Hurricane Laura and I have more than just naming in common. It formed earliest in the season for the 12th named storm, and I was born 3 months early. That's about where the commonalities end. I've never gone to Cuba, for example. I was excited to see that 2020 was going to be an active season, as that meant there's a greater chance that there will be a Hurricane Laura. In 2008, there was a Tropical Storm Laura, but it didn't do much, was only briefly strong enough to be named, and at that time, I was busy trying to convalesce from a very recent stroke . I might be able to see remnants of this storm as it starts to track east after landfall bur it'll be likely just some clouds or a bit of rain by that time. I'll make sure to go outside and wave as it passes by.

Wanted to do a run, but instead settled for a walk

 I was extra tired today due to my neighbors. I can't tell if it's the ones with a toddler next to me or the ones below me, but for the last two weeks at least, it sounds like they're dropping something or closing a door or a drawer every 10 - 30 minutes from 9pm - 1am. Just as I doze off, THUMP THUMP!, then silence again. Since I need 8 hours of sleep and I start work at 7am, this isn't going to work. I listened to my meditation app longer and I tried wearing ear plugs. The ear plugs hurt my ears after a while, and I didn't calm down with my meditation app. So, this afternoon, I moved my bed. Instead of being on the south side of my bedroom, it's now on the north side. Hopefully that will help. If not, I'll try wearing noise cancelling headphones. If that doesn't work, I'll get the inflatable bed out and sleep in the guest room. If that works, then I know I can move the real bed in there and sleep there for a while. With that plan in place, I look f

The Oatmilk Comparison

 I've tried several different oatmilks as of late. I generally stick with Planet Oat's Original oatmilk, but have branched out just to be sure I'm not missing something. So far, I've tried Silk, Planet Oat, Chobani and my own homemade. I'd rate them from best to worst: Planet Oat Chobani Homemade Silk Planet Oat is what I tried first about a year ago and though it was an excellent replacement for half and half that I was putting in my morning coffee. I even enjoyed it with some chocolate syrup, and I tried the chocolate oatmilk version which was great. Chobani, I tried today as Harris Teeter had a special - you could get it free until Sunday. Free, not 'with purchase of another item', just free. I felt pretty smart walking out of the grocery store not even paying anything, but getting something for free. The taste isn't bad but paring it with coffee isn't as good as the Planet Oat brand. It didn't remove the bitterness of the coffee, though it di

First Restaurant Experience since March

This evening, I went to a restaurant for dinner with one of my friends. We picked this place because it usually does a ton of lunch business but not dinner business, I'd been there plenty of time before covid, and it's a Greek place with a Subway/Chipotle style of ordering - there aren't any waiters, and the only interaction with the staff is when you order your meal.  True to what I remembered, the place was nearly empty. One patron inside the restaurant, one patron on the outside, at the patio. We grabbed the table at the opposite side of the patio from where the other patron was eating. It was really nice interacting with strangers (the staff) who were also wearing masks and everyone was kind and laid back. It all made me feel comfortable eating there, almost no one there, the people who were there were wearing masks, and I was able to eat outside. I felt safe and was happy my first 'dine-in' experience was so positive! I was a fan of

August Exercise

 Looking good on my goal for exercise every day in August! I have to post my time at some point between today and September 14th for my virtual 5k. At the very least, I can submit the one I did today, however I expect to run the actual course (the course they do when we're not in a pandemic) some Saturday morning so that my times reflect the same course year after year. I'll keep walking, running or biking every day until mid September, at least. So far I've only walked in the rain one time, and hopefully I'll be able to stay dry! Pretty soon we'll not have rain every day, and it'll be dry... and then cooler. Then cold. I might even buy some winter running gear, although the leggings, tshirt, jacket and visor/ear warmer combo I wore last year for the November 5k when it was 40 degrees wasn't too bad.

Pantry cooking Part 2

  This ended up a terrible photo, but I was too hungry to properly stage it and make sure it was in focus, and now it's been eaten. On the left is the bread I made yesterday. It's dense, but quite good for a bread that I didn't add yeast to, and didn't knead, nor did I let it rise before baking. Is it as good as the Guglhupf bread? HECK NO! I'm looking forward to any excuse to head to Durham in order to pick up a loaf or two of that bread. That was fantastic. However, this being 'clean out the pantry' month, I had the ingredients for this bread, so I made it. And I'll probably make it two more times before I'll be out of ingredients. To gussy up my Roast Chicken Ramen, I thawed and cooked in the Instant Pot two chicken breasts, and cooked them on high pressure for 8 minutes, foregoing the trivet this time, and I think the chicken came out better. I added the usual soy sauce, ginger and garlic chili paste to the Ramen and happily ate it, dunking the b

Pantry cooking

  Today, I made bread, but before I made bread, I needed to make the milk that the bread recipe called for. So I made another round of oatmilk. Only strained it once. Since I'd done this around 4pm, I didn't try it with coffee, but I don't think it'll be much better. Regardless, I'll have it with one cup tomorrow to see. I used most of the milk I made for the dough. I decided to go for half wheat flour and half white flour, and I followed this recipe: It's a nice bread, though dense. I'll make it again when I can pay attention - I made some errors (added the milk before combining the dry ingredients) because I was also trying to finish my workday. After I get tired of my bean soup and chicken Ramen, I'll make some pasta. I have some canned tomatoes and plenty of butter and a small jar of minced garlic and plenty of spices, and found this recipe:

Oatmilk use and Ramen recipe

 Disappointingly, the oatmilk is entirely too thin to be pleasant in my coffee. I strained the oat milk twice yesterday - I'll make more tomorrow, add a little salt and a bit more maple syrup and only strain it once. I ended up putting in a dash of maple syrup in my coffee this morning to make it less bitter. This could either make me break and go buy a container of oatmilk at the store, or it'll get me down to one cup of coffee instead of two. I did end up drinking a cup of black tea after that, just to help increase my caffeine intake. I don't want a headache cropping up due to lack of caffeine. I mixed up the rest of one of the two  oatmilk containers with some of my chocolate whey protein powder and that wasn't too bad. I think I'll continue that until I use up either the homemade oatmilk or protein powder. I'll drink that instead of eating eggs, which I no longer have in my fridge. I used my Instant Pot to cook two chicken breasts. They had thawed from froz

Book 5 of the Chronicles of Prydain, The High King and I made oatmilk

  I made oat milk tonight, as I've run out of Planet Oat oat milk, and I am attempting to use up everything in my pantry and fridge and freezer before heading back to the grocery store. I'll be eating a lot of rice and beans and chicken in the future. However, I'll be looking for a recipe to make tomato sauce, as I have two cans of tomatoes, some butter, spices, and two boxes of pasta, and Parmesan cheese. Dinner was chicken ramen with chunked chicken breast and seasoned with sesame oil. soy sauce, ginger and chili paste. I started the fifth and "last" book of the series The Chronicles of Prydain. It's about as thick as the last book and the author warns that it's a heavier read than the previous four. I'm looking forward to a successful wrap up of the characters. I put 'last' in quotes above because the author just came out with a prequel for the series, so I'll have to read that after I'm done with book five!

Finished Taran Wanderer, book 4 of Chronicle of Prydain

Taran had dropped his quest to find the Mirror in hopes of understanding who his parents are, and decided to find a trade within the Commot Folk. He tried to be a smith and forged his own sword, but it didn't please him to do the work. He found the weaver and worked at the loom to weave his own cloak but it also didn't please him. He found the potter and was happy shaping clay until he started to compare his finished products to the master sculptor. Many people attempted to have him learn patience and he would fair better with each attempt, but he eventually decided that he did want to learn who his parents were by seeking the Mirror. He was successful with his quest, but the mirror didn't show him anything other than what he already knew, and decided to go back home to the farmstead he worked at the beginning of the book. While this was a fun adventure and Taran learned plenty, the end just didn't seem like an end. It almost felt like giving up, instead. He could have

Chapter 1 of Cooked by Michael Pollan

 I read the first chapter of Cooked by Michael Pollan. I've been a fan of his work for at least a decade, having read In Defense of Food, Food Rules and Omnivore's Dilemma. I purchased but have yet to read How to Change Your Mind, and he has an Audible audiobook I'm interested in, call Caffeine. The first chapter of Cooked, however, focuses on barbecue. But not just any barbecue - eastern North Carolina barbecue. Living in central North Carolina, we get lumped in with Eastern NC BBQ, which I'm happy with. The sauces in the eastern side of the state are vinegar based. The sauces on the western side of the state are tomato based, and are sweeter. Pollan visits a barbecue joint near Greenville, NC to see how the cookery operates and tastes the food, which is simply dressed but excellent in taste. Similar to a few barbecue joints here, the menu offered few items, but were of good quality. I thought about making a visit there, but it's over an hour away. I guess if I hea

Continuation of Taran Wanderer

Taran is certainly getting mature in the book, being able to discern things that his friends aren't able to, and tricking kings and leaders into a more fair and kind approach to dealing with enemies. The poor protagonist got beaten and his horse stolen by a band of marauders. He tracked them down and argued with the leader of the area to get it back, and during his travels, recognized his friend who had been turned into a frog. His main quest to find out who his parentage was is turning into about five side quests, in which a few offer his their ability to be his parents if he stay with him. It'll be interesting to see if he doesn't find out his true heritage, but finds that many offer him a lineage due to his wisdom and kindess, by the end of the book. I'm only about halfway in, but hope to get it read by the end of the weekend, unless I start reading another book!  

SQL Practice Test #16

  Terrible! These questions are case studies and ridiculously complex. Add to that, the fact that the MeasureUp website is just a terrible experience makes this all a kick in the teeth. I understand that I might not be passing every time, but this seems to tell me I'm better off getting a test dump. Continually failing this, especially after having several years of experience and getting good enough to consistently pass the other version really grates. All I can do is my best, but right now all I want to do is go to bed and calm down with a book. Guess I'll go finish up Taran Wanderer and hopefully end the day in a better mood.

Back to PIVOT but from a different angle

 I read up on SSRS matrixes and experimented with my query only to find that I needed to created calculated fields off of dynamic fields that don't exist at runtime. So disappointed, but undeterred. I looked at what I could do for advanced uses of sp_executesql and after quite some time researching, I finally settled on creating a table valued function that houses my PIVOT operator query. Hopefully that will get me where I need to be with dynamic columns that change year to year. Between my meetings and deployments and research, I snuck in a quick bike ride, then a slow walk, as an old injury with my toe left me with a slowly growing damaged toenail that, while it's mostly grown out and new nailbed has appeared, the damaged bit finally fell off, so I wanted to see what kind of pain I would get from going for a walk. The answer seems to be "slight" and "I should probably be careful for a few days and not run until Friday." Guess I'll just tape up my toe c

Lunch walk and freezing bean soup

 I decided to go for a walk at lunch so I don't burn out with 5k runs before doing the actual 5k race in a few weeks. I do still have a blister on my toe and want to protect it as much as I can. I walked 2.6 miles, as 2 miles just seemed too short, and the full 3.11 miles I was concerned would be too much. I made myself slow down for this walk - I've conditioned myself to start running and going as fast as possible when I head out of my place in workout gear with my fitness watch going. I even made myself stop in the middle to listen to nature as there weren't any people on one section of the trail, and the traffic couldn't be heard even though it was less than a quarter mile away. It was difficult to just stop and appreciate! I made myself do things like look up, and see what the tree tops look like from below, and watch robins fly and squirrels scamper. Took a while to slow down and notice all the colors and wildlife, and watch water flow lazily downstream. It was a v

Well, I learned more and will need to pivot from my PIVOT, and had a great but difficult run

 I was so pleased to learn and use PIVOT and dynamic SQL for my report last week, but when I put it all together, I found out that it wouldn't work in my RDL. I struggled to figure out why, and after some searching on Google, it seems that when you use dynamic SQL and exec sp_executesql, SSRS can't figure out what the columns are, and gives up. I learned how to use SET FMTONLY OFF but that didn't help, sadly. Apparently, I'll need to figure out a different way to build my PIVOT or use the matrix tablix in SSRS, something I've not done a lot with. A quick usage of it showed me either I don't know how to use it (likely!) or that the query I'm using isn't set up the way I need it to be (also likely!) I decided to wait for another day for learning more about matrixes in SSRS as it was already 5pm. Guess it's a good time for another SQL test. As I set it up, I heard THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP. Ahh. My downstairs neighbors must be celebrating the end of their

Continued exercise and put a slight pause on baking

I'm continuing exercising every day in August. Today, I walked a 5k in 48:52 which is both great and irritating. Great in the fact that I'm clearly fitter than I was before, but it's a little irritating that I did my best with the past 5Ks and I'm barely slower having just power-walked 3.1 miles. The official 5Ks that I've run have been: 2016 North Hills 5K: 51:06 2017 North Hills 5K: 45:12 2018 North Hills 5K: 48:15 2019 North Hills 5K: 48:44 2019 Hope Through Education 5K: 44:07 The 2020 North Hills 5K will be done a bit differently - You're allowed to follow the race course any time between 8/21 - 9/14 and submit your time through email, or run any 5k course with time submitted. I'll attempt the course but it'll be a little more difficult since they won't be blocking traffic for the runners. It's a quiet neighborhood, but I'd still need to be a little careful crossing a few of the streets. I'll likely bike it and possibly walk it in ho

Chronicles of Prydain, Book 4: Taran Wanderer

I've started the fourth book, and the author notes that it's focused on the male lead Taran and doesn't include the female lead who I hoped had a better character arc in this book. I guess she gets no arc and in the next book, has matured... hopefully. Well, I suppose it makes sense to have this book focus on the male lead as the previous three books focused on him and he's the main character. This book sees him attempting to find out where he came from and who his parents were.  I'm only on chapter two, so that's about all I've got. However, I went on a lovely bike ride yesterday around the southwestern side of Raleigh from Pullen Park to Mt Hope Cemetery. The greenway trail wasn't easy to find once you get to South Saunders street, as they put the sign off the road, next to a community. I really was uncomfortable riding in a thin tunnel where the lights had gone out, but there weren't people in there, so I just sped through it. Meandering around th

Finished Castle of Llyr and walked a 5k

 I finished The Castle of Llyr last night before going to sleep. It ended well, but had two issues regarding character. The antagonist, who used to rule the entire land, then who became second fiddle for a while now became number one. Once the protagonists won and she lost her power, she seemingly changed personalities to become more subdued and will follow the protagonists where they want her to go. Maybe the character is playing the long game and will regain her powers in the following two books. The other issue I had was the rescue for the protagonists. It was looking grim for them. They were far from land and the island they were leaving was sinking and creating a whirlpool. The main protagonist was somehow treading the turbulent water while holding onto an unconscious character and was not fairing well with either task. Then, suddenly, he's on shore, and it is learned that he and the others were rescued by a mid-book villain who decided to be helpful instead. That seems unlike

The Castle of Llyr

I'm about 70 pages from the end, and while it's not quite as good as the first two books, I'm still enjoying it. The two issues that make the book not as fun are poor communication between characters (but they are teenagers) and one of the new characters has no common sense, wandering off from the group in unfamiliar settings, making unnecessary errors, so we'll see if he gets better by the end. Right now our heroes are trapped in a cave, deciding how to get out without sacrificing one of them. In my selfish way, I want the guy who has caused all the problems to draw the short straw and stay in the cave while the others escape. After all, they can tell others of his bravery since the rest of the people know him as some clumsy idiot. I suspect they'll figure out how to save the entire group and head back to their main mission of saving the princess. I'll find out in about an hour!  Also, I'm confused as to how EYE and RHYME don't  sound similar, per the c

SQL Practice Test #15

At least I failed with the questions correctly marked incorrect. This test had more questions on temporal tables, another new concept for SQL Server 2016 as well as LEAD/LAG which apparently started in 2012, but I've never come across it. More to learn. I'm hoping by taking a small test nearly every day, I'll learn faster than reading a dry book. However I've been running or walking every day this week and think I'll continue doing something  every day, even if it's a 1 mile walk. Since I've run for three days in a row, I think tomorrow I'll go for a walk. It's been difficult setting up a stretching habit, though it's clear I need one. The Atomic Habits book suggests I need to make it obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. The last bit is already done - I like it when it's done. I feel good and accomplished. I'm not doing a good job with making it obvious or attractive, though. What if I move my yoga mat to the middle of the living roo