Tag Archives: Grammar Checker

Make it Monday – Hacks and Helpful Hints

I know I’m a day late.  Monday straight up got away from me with the whole UAV to the shop thing and the hunting for my nemesis thing.  So I’m sorry.  I know that all six of my readers are forgiving souls who will just appreciate the advice I’m going to throw down here.  I didn’t get anything non-edible made this week, so I thought I’d share some of my edible food tips with you.

What I did make last week (much to my boss’ dismay) was homemade soup and french bread.  My french bread is almost always fabulous and I use a recipe out of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 15th Edition (Better Homes & Gardens Plaid).   This is my go-to “cookbook for idiots” (any cookbook with a recipe for fried eggs falls into this category).  I have used it for years and replaced it at least twice.  The french bread recipe is simple:  Flour, yeast, water, salt, egg wash.  I won’t steal it from the book and type it here, sorry.

If you normally fail at bread,  odds are it is your yeast.  Remember yeast is alive.  In the jar it is in a dormant state that you awaken with heat.  If the liquid you add is too hot, you’ll kill the yeast.  Too cold, you won’t wake it up and your bread won’t rise.  Use a thermometer to make sure the liquid is no hotter than 130 degrees and at least 120.  Yeast can also get old and stop working.  Like me.

Take care not to add too much flour (the reason every recipe lists a range is that the amount of flour is contingent on humidity) or your bread will be hard and dry.  It should be sticky to the touch but not so much that it still sticks to your fingers.  Err on the side of slightly sticky fingers if you must.

Another failure mode in bread making is kneading.  If you don’t knead the bread enough, it will not be successful.  Follow the guidelines in your recipe to the letter until you’ve mastered the “feel” of bread:  Soft, light and slightly sticky.  Make sure you are patient with the rises as well.  It will help to use a straight-sided vessel to know for sure the dough has doubled.  An old plastic ice cream pail washed carefully is perfect.

My two hacks for you today involve cake.  A dear friend is a professional baker and suggests adding a small pack of pudding to a box cake mix.  I have tried it and the result is a cake that is much moister and more flavorful than the mix would have been without adding pudding.  For a simple, wonderful dessert, frost it with pudding too.  Poke holes in the finished cake with a wooden spoon and pour the pudding carefully and evenly over the top.  Refrigerate and serve.  Fabulous and, I daresay, healthier than frosting since pudding is made with milk and most frostings have some sort of fat as a primary ingredient.

A second trick is even easier and makes a great, moist cake lower in calories and fat than the original version.  Instead of adding eggs, oil and water as indicated on the mix box, add a 12 oz. can of soda pop.  Combinations worthy of consideration are any type of chocolate and cherry coke (or diet cherry coke, dr. pepper, etc.), white cake with fruit-flavored sodas, and (the boys’ favorite) yellow cake with root beer.  Your options are unlimited.  My family likes it so well that no frosting is necessary, but fat free cool whip would be nice and you could dress it up with fruit, chocolate shavings or whatever strikes your fancy.

These are go-to, proven tips in my house.  I hope you enjoy them and forgive me that they are a day late.  If you try them, let me know! Leave me some comment love 🙂

Also don’t forget you can say thank you and win $120 (and counting) gift card for Amazon from my friends at Grammarly, the world’s best grammar checker.  The deadline is January 31!

 

An Attitude of Gratitude!

My little blog is celebrating the month of January. It’s cold and snowy here in America’s Dairyland but it’s Thank You month and I have a lot to be thankful for.  My friends at Grammarly are helping me throw a party.

What?  Write a post on your own blog about something or someone that you are thankful for. Link back to this post and to Grammarly, the world’s best grammar checker.

Why?  Because you can win an Amazon.com gift card.  Currently it is valued at $120 but the value increases by $10 for every thankful blogger that enters the contest!

When:  Between now and January 31.  The Random Number Generator will pick one lucky winner on February 1.

 

What are you waiting for?  Give thanks and win big!

 

Once you’ve entered, share your link here:

It’s Like a Computer Game for Grammar Nerds!

I was recently asked to have a look at Grammarly, an online grammar checker. Of course I pooh-poohed the idea because of my flawless command of the English Language but after checking one of my posts and scoring 67% further urging, I agreed to give it a try.

Interface: Grammarly has an online option as well as a downloadable plug-in to use with Word. Since I primarily use Google Documents, I opted not to download the plug-in and will not comment on it. The online interface is smooth and easy to use. Pages load quickly. Analysis takes only a few seconds depending on the length of the passage. In theory, I could paste a lengthy thesis into the tool and receive a comprehensive analysis. I was unwilling to prepare one for this review. When checking sections of text, be sure to select the type of writing you are doing as well as whether or not you want to check for plagiarism.

Testing: To do the first test (after the blog post), I dug up from the dust a piece from my PhD program days. I won’t bore you with the subject, but using the menu in the screen shot, I checked that it was academic writing, check for plagiarism and did a check of it. I scored 69%! After my initial shock, I pored over the detailed analysis of my writing.  I was quite impressed with the depth of analysis and detailed explanations.  Like other grammar checkers, you must take the result with a grain of salt. I initially rejected some of the suggested changes but did change my mind after considering the explanation (What can I say?  I’m an arrogant grammar nerd, too).   By far the largest point of disagreement between Grammarly and myself related to synonyms. I chose not to change anything. I am not the sort of writer who chooses to use “parsimony” when “simplicity” will do.

However, I do give Grammarly big, big points for clearly explaining possible issues and offering alternatives.

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Grammarly is for you if:
1. You are a student at the high school level or higher and want to make sure your writing reflects your intelligence. It is particularly helpful for College and Graduate level students.  Grammarly is also a great way for college-bound students to prepare themselves because many top schools subscribe to this exact service or a similar service designed to prevent plagiarism.
2. You’re a business professional who struggles with the written word and wants to appear professional.
3. Non-native speakers of English would benefit greatly from Grammarly.
4. You’re a homeschooler or homeschooling parent. I particularly enjoy the explanations of errors. Grammarly is an exceptional supplement to any language arts or writing curriculum for the upper grades.

There are a variety of subscription options ranging from $19.95 for a month to month option to $95.45 ($7.95 per month) for the annual subscription.  Given the importance of excellent communication skills for professionals and students alike, I would say it is a worthy investment for students and professionals alike.

 

Once again, I was asked to review Grammarly, an online grammar checker. I received a trial membership valued at $40 for the review. All opinions expressed about the product are, as always, my own.

 

P.S.  This post scored 87%  How did your last article do?