A new independent bookstore

The perfect place to while away the hours

Confidential to all my new followers looking for Keto posts: Don’t worry – there will be another post about a Keto recipe tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy my other main interest: finding good books to read.

This week a new bookstore opened in the Five Points shopping village of Columbia. I immediately had to go and spend money on more books. Even though I have approximately eleventy-million unread books at home I want to read. Besides, I supported them in the Kickstarter to make this bookstore happen. I have a vested interest in making sure All Good Books succeeds.

All Good Books is located at 734 Harden Street, in Five Points.

When you walk in the quote about all good books from Hemingway greets you.

Lots of books and comfy chairs

The new bookstore has a LOT of room – I was trying not to attract too much attention with my pictures, so I didn’t get photos of the adorable kids’ area and the cafe. Or the patio out back. There’s a communal study table in one of the back rooms. And there are lovely places to curl up with a book throughout the store – like the window seat in the front, or chairs scattered throughout the shop.

I picked up a copy of We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto by Alice Waters. She is the famous chef behind Chez Panisse. I also picked up a copy of On Booze, a collection of writings on what else, alcohol, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. That will make the perfect birthday gift for a friend of mine who is a noted connoisseur of cocktails. I’m already planning my next trip!

Isn’t this the cutest reading nook?

In the garden…

Before and after

Today was a wonderful day to take off and work in the yard. I’ve been telling myself for SO LONG that I will do something about the miserable, sad, overgrown, messy area around my mailbox. Today I made it happen. I picked up all the half-buried brick edgers, scraped away all the pieces of tarp, magnolia leaves, and junk, and put a new system of faux rocks in a ring around the mailbox. Next up: buying some nice new numbers for the mailbox, then in April transplanting part of the lantana in the backyard to grow in the circle. And maybe, just maybe, doing something to allow a morning glory to grow up and down the mailbox pole. We’ll see. One step at a time!

Moving to next project

By the time I got the mailbox done (and toting and hauling all those heavy bricks) I was pooped. And I had accumulated almost 10,000 steps by 10 a.m.! But I did have enough energy left to overhaul the bare hanging flower basket on the fence leading to the backyard.

Cooking · Keto

Staying on keto…

…When you’re too tired to cook.

Lately my work schedule has been so vigorous that I’ve come home exhausted from the office. On work-from-home days I’ve trudged wearily down the hall to the kitchen at dinnertime. Tonight was a good example; fortunately, I had leftover burger patties with cheese melted on top. But sometimes, you’re just too tired to cook. I’ve done deviled eggs to death; I’ve snacked on hunks of cheddar cheese, and when I’m tired, I don’t even have it in me to pull together a salad.

Readers: What do you suggest?

Perhaps ham and cheese rollups for supper?

What are your quick Keto go-to’s on those days when you’re too tired to cook? How do you keep from scarfing down potato chips or anything else full of carbs? I’m at the point where I’m starting to think skipping dinner is good – and I’m sure that will just cause me to overdo at the next meal. Please let me know your suggestions for very quick keto-friendly dinners in the comments.


It’s WWW Wednesday

It’s WWW Wednesday again! This round-up is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here are my answers to the three “W’s”.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first seven books in the Liturgical Mystery series, and now I’m happy to finally get back to it. “The Organist Wore Pumps” is the eighth time organist/choir director Hayden Konig gets to investigate a crime – when he’s not trying to write hard-boiled detective fiction in the manner of Raymond Chandler. Oh, and he’s also the town’s chief of police. It all works out with a cast of characters every bit as lovable and eccentric as those in Mitford.

What did you recently finish reading?

I said that Kira Davis could exhort anyone, challenge anyone and convince anyone to take up arms in defense of ideas. Her book “Drawing Lines: Why Conservatives Must Begin to Battle Fiercely in the Arena of Ideas” proved me right. Check out my full review of her book.

The Gentleman Farmers read like a cosy, but without a murder! So I suppose it wasn’t a real cozy after all. The heroine, Maggie Kingsbury, is the narrator of the tale. Actually, the book is presented as her diary or journal – she’s continually saying she’ll burn the manuscript after she says something embarrassing about a family member. The novel begins in the “Old World” – upstate New York of recent years, beset by falling home prices, rising crime, and worsening quality of life. Maggie recounts how she’s spent her life in her hometown, which is turning into a slum. After being mugged, Maggie’s sister Molly and her husband, Maggie’s friend Kevin, set off for the “New World” – a gentleman’s farm outside Asheville, N.C. The second half of the book focuses on how the three, with Molly and Kevin’s children, set up on their 10-acre “family compound” with hens, sheep, and goats. Everything that can go wrong does – and then, Maggie is accused of being a Nazi, because she defends a monument of Robert E. Lee. How the sisters and Kevin become true “Gentlemen Farmers” will captivate and charm you.

Robert Velarde imagined an ill man, lying in a hospital bed, suddenly seeing and having conversations with C.S. Lewis. The story borrows elements from Dicken’s Christmas Carol, as Lewis serves the protagonist as his Spirit of the Past. Lewis takes Clerk through scenes from his life, into scenes from his imagination – Narnia, Purgatory, and even Hell. All throughout he talks with Clerk, an atheist, and presents to Clerk his beliefs in the Christian faith. A beautiful work of apologetics – one any Christian could lend or give to an atheist or agnostic friend.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Long ago I read Dante’s Inferno. Then I put started Purgatory and put it down at the seventh canto. I figured Lent is a good time to finish it.


Keto Update, 2.28.23

Recovery from cheat days

I’m delighted to announce, that one week after my weekend of carbohydrate-busting dining in Charleston, S.C., I weighed and found I’d lost all the carb weight I’d picked up on that trip – plus a pound more! One solid week of focused attention on my carb intake, and it happened. The ketogenic way of eating made it easier than I thought – all the fat content of my meals kept me reasonably full. I’d lying though, if I said wasn’t hungry sometimes. I’m still not used to eating only a salad and grilled chicken for lunch, especially when you’ve spent years snarfing up fast food and bready sandwiches.

But I did get back on track. To celebrate, tonight I made a burger with a fried egg on top.

The four patties, made from one pound of grass-fed beef. I probably should have made them a little thinner.
The egg looked so lovely in the pan. Too bad I got in a hurry….
It doesn’t look much like the Simply Keto cookbook, does it?

I dined on a pared-down version of this burger: I forgot to buy avocado, skipped the onion, and I rushed the last bit and flipped my perfect sunny-side-up egg into an over-easy mess. Patience is hard to come by when you’re hungry!

Cooking · Keto

Tools for Keto Living

Making Keto dishes is easier with these.

Keto living means upping your fat intake – and that’s easy to do when you love cheese as much as I do. (One of my friends is giving up cheese for Lent – he’s made of stronger stuff than I am.) I’m eating slices of cheese by themselves, when I’m not grating or shredding cheese into every dish I can. What’s an omelet without cheese?

To make my dishes sing, I’ve been looking for the right tools. That old-fashioned box grater I was gifted from my mother still works beautifully, but it is a pain to clean. After a little looking around on Ebay I found the answer: a Holland cheese slicer, with painted scene on the handle. Both functional and stylish. In the words of William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” It doesn’t so much slice the cheese as grates it in thin strips.

I love the handpainted scene of the windmill.

And then there’s the ultimate shredding tool: the Microplane grater. Could I have shredded Parmesan before I got this? Yes, but it was large strips, not the fine shreds I wanted. And zest – forget it. My grocery story zester smushed every peel I tried to zest. If you want quality, yes, you will have to pay for it. But this tool has paid for itself. I love finely shredded Parmesan over salads, soups, and in so many dishes. The Microplane makes it happen.

The perfect shredder/zester, lying against the perfect block cheese slicer.

Tex-Mex & Keto

A delicate balancing act

For the second weekend in a row, I fell out of ketosis. This time, I was done in by the homemade tortilla chips – not just any restaurant tortilla chips, but chips at what my friend swears is the best Tex-Mex this side of New Mexico.

We had traveled to Charlotte for a shopping trip. After a latish start, we got there about 11:30 – time for an early lunch. My friend had been telling me about this wonderful Mexican chain in Orlando (of all places) that she swore had the closest thing to Tex-Mex that she’d found on the East Coast, ever since she left Albuquerque. I said, look it up, see if there’s one in Charlotte. And yes, there is a Chuy’s in Charlotte.

A Tex-Mex take on the 21 Club

We drove to the one Charlotte location on the south side of the city. The place had a kitschy vibe with the Chihuahua bar decorated with pictures of Chihuahua dogs, the checkerboard floors, and colorful furnishing. The ceilings drew inspiration from New York’s fabled 21 Club. Instead of toys hanging down, the ceiling of the room where we dined was decorated with shiny hubcaps of all shapes and sizes. There was some serious money in rims above our heads.

Salsas Devine

For about two minutes I thought hard about staying on my Keto program. I could order a taco salad and eat around the shell. I could order fajitas and skip the tortillas. But then they brought out those homemade tortilla chips with salsa and creamy jalapeno dip. The lightly fried, non-greasy chips crumbled in the mouth, melting as fast as my resistance to the carbs. My friend couldn’t stop exclaiming over the food. She eagerly ordered the Hatch Chili salsa to go with her lunch. My tastes run more to my WASP background. I gotta be me: I’m more at home with bland, creamy comfort food, not hot & spicy. I chose from the mild side of the menu. The enchiladas with tomatillo salsa were perfect. I did try to restrain myself: I didn’t eat most of the tortillas wrapping the chicken inside. And I left most of the rice and beans (something I’ve never done before in a Mexican restaurant.) Not because they weren’t delicious; I was reining myself in. And because I was stuffed full of chips.


It’s time to act.

Book Review: Drawing Lines

Note to all my Keto post readers: Every once in a while I post something else. I also like gardening and books, in addition to Keto. If you only want to read Keto posts, just click on the “Keto” category in the top menu.

In Drawing Lines: Why Conservatives Must Begin to Battle Fiercely in the Arena of Ideas, Kira Davis issues a call to action: take your stand, make a difference in the fight for our culture. For the past few decades, our society has defaulted to liberal values everywhere: media, books, television, and universities. Kira is telling conservatives it is time: time to stand up, speak out, make your position known. Push back whenever and wherever you can. Her writing voice is the same as her podcasting voice: friendly, encouraging, with stories from her own life that make you laugh and make you think.

Kira weaves her personal story in between chapters on women’s rights being pushed aside, schools and corporations going woke, and critical race theory. Growing up a liberal, she believed everything that left taught, and she thought the Right was just as evil as they were painted by mainstream media commentators. Volunteering at an afterschool tech center program for kids made her start to question how effective the education system was. No matter how much money was poured into the schools, test scores and passing grades never improved. Worse, the only solution that the left offered was “spend more money.”

After realizing that, Kira started questioning more of her political positions. For the past several years she’s been a conservative commentator, one who has “built a brand on reaching out to the other side, on giving people space to be wrong, the space to discuss, the space to tolerate.” Sadly, she admits that it is now time for conservatives to question the liberal zeitgeist.

In each chapter she gives suggestions for how you, the reader, can make your voice heard. Whether it’s going to a school board meeting, running for office (like she did) or writing to your representatives, she outlines the many ways conservatives can say, ‘hey, we’re here. This is our country too, and you can’t cancel us.’

Kira ends the book by ‘taking it to church’, as she says on her podcast. Her strong Christian faith undergirds everything she does. One of her core beliefs is that just below the surface of each societal fad is a soul longing to take the place of God, to make himself God. Having a faith in something greater than yourself allows you to reject the notion that government or politics is your Lord. As she says:

It’s very freeing when you can accept perfection is divine, and you have no way to get there on your own. It’s no wonder progressives are always so cranky. They sense they’ll never get to where they’re going.

– Drawing Lines, page 116.

Victory over All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

A Keto Win

Every month my team goes out to eat at a different restaurant. This week, it was the locally famous all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant Little Pigs. It’s a patriotic country place that features the flags of each branch of the Armed Services on the walls, along with the “Thin Blue Line” flag and a flag for MIA-POWs. And they serve the three styles of barbecued pork sauce predominant in South Carolina: tomato-based, mustard-based, and vinegar-pepper.

Buffet means minefield

Unfortunately, meat isn’t all they serve. There’s also the tantalizing display of casserole-type foods and starches that are mainstays of the Southern diet. Here’s what I had to pass by in order to stay on my Keto way of eating:

  • Fried chicken
  • Wings
  • Rice
  • Hash
  • Tomato pie
  • Hush puppies
  • Macaroni and cheese (this is considered a vegetable in South Carolina)
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Candied Yams
  • Corn
  • Candied Yams
  • Cut Corn
  • And for dessert:
  • Banana pudding
  • Chocolate pudding

What did you eat?

Believe it or not, I was able to dine quite nicely at the BBQ restaurant, and not feel too deprived. (Although I did sigh several times over the tomato pie I couldn’t have.) I filled my plate with broccoli salad made with cheddar cheese and mayo, green beans, and three types of pork: mustard-based BBQ, vinegar and pepper-based BBQ, and plain pulled pork. It was divine. And best of all – my teammates who ate all the carbs were falling asleep later that afternoon at work. Me? I had no problem powering through the day.