Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gift Ideas For Seniors

Today I added a new page to the blog titled, Gift Ideas for Seniors, which I hope will be helpful to both gift givers and gift receivers. I've been on both sides of the age divide and know that it can be a challenge to come up with good ideas. When I was young, I wondered what to get mom and dad, in-laws, and aging aunties. When I asked for ideas, it wasn't helpful to be told, "Oh, I have everything I need. Don't worry about me."

Now that I am at the older end of things, it isn't any easier. When I am asked what I want, I don't want to sound mercenary, so at times I have defaulted to the same "don't worry about me" statement. Or I've asked for gift cards, which I truly appreciate, but asking for them makes me feel a bit crass.

So I'm hoping that my list of gift ideas will help people of all generations avoid those awkward conversations. I also hope it inspires people to be creative and find ways of giving that have meaning for both parties. I'm sure there are plenty of  ideas out there that I haven't thought of. What can you add? Have you given or received something particularly special? Please share your ideas and stories.

Monday, October 17, 2011

4 Reasons Why a Kindle Is Good for People Over 60

The Kindle offers advantages for people of all ages. But for us older readers, there are features that are especially valuable. Here are 4 that I've noticed in the short time I've owned a Kindle.

1. It is lightweight. I just took a weekend trip by train to visit some friends. Even on a short trip, I usually take 2-3 books with me and maybe a magazine or two. It was so nice this time to replace a few pounds of reading material with a 6 oz. Kindle! Plus, I didn't have to wrestle with getting a book into or out of one of my bags. The Kindle fits easily into my purse.

The text on a Kindle can be rotated, so the device
can be held more comfortably in arthritic hands. 
Lighter weight means greater reading comfort, too. Some people talk about loving the "heft of a book" in their hands. But I have more stiffness in my joints these days and I notice that holding a book to read, for even short periods of time, bothers my neck and thumb joints. Having a lightweight reader makes it easier for me to lift the "book" to a level that is comfortable for my neck. Plus, holding a Kindle is a lot easier on my thumbs than holding onto a 350-page, printed-on-paper-novel. As an added bonus, I can rotate the text, which means that I can hold the device even more comfortably.

2. The font size is adjustable. I don't love wearing reading glasses. And with 8 different font sizes to choose from on my Kindle, I don't have to. I also have the choice of whether the type is condensed and/or sans serif; and I can adjust the spacing between lines of type. Fiddling with these options allows me to "set" the type to suit my aging eyes.

3. It soon pays for itself. Kindle books are cheaper than their hardback versions. There are no shipping costs for ebooks. You don't have to drive anywhere to buy one, so you save on gas. There are plenty of books that are free (many of the classics) or are very low cost, like these 100 Kindle Books Under $3.99. Soon we will be able to read library books on our Kindles, which will add even more savings.

4. It is a good solution for the book storage problem. I used to think of my book collection as a sign of a "rich" life, with so much information and entertainment lined up on the shelves. Now I wonder why I've held onto so many books, decades after I last read them. I've been in the process of clearing out my collection and being more deliberate in my choice of what to keep. I will always have a certain number of physical books, but there will be many fewer from now on.

For those of us who are 60 and beyond, the Kindle is a brilliant answer to the question, "If we buy more books, where are we going to put them?" Some of us are down-sizing or thinking about it. Some of us have been in the same houses for a long time and have accumulated one heck of a lot of stuff, books included. We dread the idea of moving all those heavy boxes of books. But we don't want to give up new books or reading. In fact, later life often affords more opportunities for reading than we had when we were younger and busy with careers and children. So an e-reader is a perfect solution. One book or 100 books on a Kindle still weigh only 6 oz. and take up no more space than the average paperback. How cool is that?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mobile Chowdown in The Junction

The Mobile Chowdown came to West Seattle last Sunday. Two blocks of California Avenue were closed to accommodate 23 food trucks that served everything from ethnic foods and donuts to burgers and ice cream. Take a look:
Trucks were parked down the middle of the street, giving people plenty of room to mill about. It's a good thing, because there was a huge turnout for this event.

The street food phenomenon is not just about food, it is also about the truck. The popular Maximus-Minimus truck is a rolling advertisement for its pulled pork sandwiches. 

And who could miss the colorful "big food" truck?

The Skillet airstream trailer is a classic in these parts. One of the first food trucks in Seattle, it has been serving up grass-fed burgers with bacon jam since 2007. 

There were long lines everywhere.
Pacific Rim cuisines were well represented, including Marination Mobile's Korean and Hawaiian food; Curry Now's Indian Food; and Kaosami's Thai Retaurant. 

There were buns on wheels...
... soul food from Where Ya At Matt's truck...
and Molly Moon's Ice Cream. Who could ask for anything more?

For more about Mobile Chowdown events visit their website.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rating Brands of Eggless Mayonnaise

I am allergic to eggs. This has meant giving up certain foods I have always enjoyed, including mayonnaise. What I miss isn't necessarily the sandwich spread aspect of it, but all the things that are made with mayonnaise. No mayo means no potato salad, no tartar sauce, no tuna salad, and no crab cakes - right?

Well as it turns out, not necessarily. There are 3 eggless mayonnaises on the market that I know of: Light Canola Mayo, made by Spectrum; Vegenaise, made by Earth Island; and  Nayonnaise, made by Nasoya.  I've tried them all and here are my observations.

Spectrum's Light Canola Mayo - this is a fairly recent discovery for me. I'm not always able to find it at the store, but it is worth the search because it is my favorite of the three.
- Has the best flavor, as far as I am concerned, of the three.
- Has a smooth consistency that is closest to real mayo of the three.
- Does not separate when added to salads, as Nayonaise does.
- It contains some soy protein, but probably too little to be an issue unless you have a soy allergy.

Vegenaise - I typically use the Grapeseed version of this product. I've been using it for three or four years. 
- Has a pleasant taste.
- Has a smooth consistency, very similar to real mayonnaise.
- Does not separate when combined in something like a potato salad or slaw.
- Does contain some amount of soy protein, although probably not enough to be a problem unless you eat spoonfuls right out of the jar. 
- Cannot be stored outside the refrigerator, even before opening.

Nayonnaise - For years, this was the only eggless mayo I could find. I rarely use it anymore, because I much prefer the other two. 
- Available in many grocery stores. 
- The main ingredient is soy oil. Soy is a problem, especially as we get older, because it suppresses thyroid function and blocks absorption of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and zinc.
- It is rather tasteless. 
- The consistency of this product is thin. It doesn't have a smooth, silky mayo-like texture. It easily separates and becomes watery, which doesn't make a potato salad or tuna salad very appetizing.

All three of these products are available in Seattle at PCC grocery stores. Look for Vegenaise in the refrigerated section.

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