Pat Egen’s Weblog

Ramblings, chats, thoughts, ideas

Taking advantage of Zucchini Mother Lode

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zukesBeing out of town for two weeks meant a couple of Zucchini had a chance to grow to baseball bat size in my garden.  For some people, this is a catastrophe.  They seem to think the zucchini is too starchy and tough.  For some recipes, this is true.  But I have a couple that don’t care what size your product is – the end results are equally good.  Today’s blog post will share a couple of my favorites.

Zucchini Pickles – from Mary Jacobs – it was her mother in laws – really old recipe4 qts Zucchini sliced very thin – do not peel

2 green peppers sliced thin
6 small onions – sliced thin
1/2 cup salt 2 trays of ice cubes
5 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/2 tsp tumeric

Directions:
Put sliced vegetables in a bowl. cover with salt and ice. Let sit at least 3 hours. Drain and rince once.
In a pot on the stove, combine sugar, vinegar and spices and bring to a boil.
Prepare jars. Pack in zucchini, peppers and onions – fill with syrup to the top of the jar.
Cover jars and process in a water bath.

These photos show the sliced zucchinis in a bowl with ice.  The ice melts down thru the salt to remove the moisture from the zucchini.DSCF7303 DSCF7314 Here are the finished jars.  This used up half of one of the large zucchini.DSCF7315
Zucchini Bread – Don’t remember where I found this recipe.  Have been using it for years.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini

Directions
Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and cool.

I shredded the other half of one of the large zucchini with my food processor blade.  I just love that device.DSCF7307 I got two loaves from half the zucchini.DSCF7317
Zucchini Lasagna

This was an experiment.  I didn’t want to defrost hamburger, so I used soft chorizo sausage instead. The idea of this recipe I’ve seen before.  You use zucchini slices instead of noodles.  I grilled the slices first to help remove some of the water and to give them more flavor.Since I make this from scratch, I didn’t measure ingredients so you’ll have to make some assumptions here.

For my marinara sauce, I sauted onions, garlic and the chorizo.  Next I added a jar of Classico spaghetti sauce and some oregano.  I keep this sauce around for times when I don’t want to do my “all day” sauce.

In the pan, I start with a single layer of grilled zucchini slices, next I layer on some of the tomato sauce mixture.  Next, I top it with a few tablespoons of cottage cheese (you could use Ricotta), and mozzarella.  I repeat this two more times topping with a layer of marinara sauce and mozzarella.  Bake it for an hour at 350 or until the top is nice and brown.

Here’s the start of the assembly process.
DSCF7298
This is the finished product.  It’s a good idea to let it sit for a spell before cutting so the zucchini can re-absorb their liquids.
DSCF7310

That’s it for now.  Ciao y’all.

Written by pregen

August 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Cooking

I have awesome staff. Everyone took thei

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I have awesome staff. Everyone took their tests for Sage ACT re-certification & passed with flying colors. Good job gang.

Written by pregen

December 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

During holiday seasons remember your customers.

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During holiday seasons remember your customers – send out holiday greetings to tell them thanks for the business. Good will goes a long way.

Written by pregen

November 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Creating Styles in Word 2010 – a search and destroy mission

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Microsoft “moved my cheese” when they came out with 2007, and then, darn, they moved it again in 2010.  I’ve used Microsoft products since they began and am so used to things the way they used to be that sometimes I spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out where things got moved.  It is really bad to have to admit I actually like the ribbons at the top now that I realize they keep the majority of things you use right in front of your face.  However, they do a amazingly good job at hiding some things.

Because I work with HTML quite a bit, sometimes I want to bring in HTML code into a document.  Then when I go to spell check it the dictionary goes all wonky and spastic trying to show me all the “supposed” misspellings.  So, I said, self, why don’t you create an HTML style and tell it to not spell check.  I found out how to not spell check during another seek and destroy mission.

Since this was a royal pain, I thought I’d put it into a blog article to save some other poor sole the effort of figuring this out.  This will show you how to even begin to build a style – which is the first thing really hidden, and the second part will show you how to exclude spell checking on a style.

Ok, first things first.  Where the heck did they hide creating a new style?  Open Word and make sure you are on the Home Ribbon.  Next click on the little corner widget on the Styles Group.  I have learned that these little corner widgets hide a myriad of secrets, and usually have what I am looking for in the first place.

After clicking on the corner arrow, you will see the following drop-down. The icon you are searching for, and which is totally non-obvious is shown here on this graphic. The green arrow is pointing at your destination.

Styles Dropdown

Hooray, we can now build a new style.  As I said I built one for HTML Code.  The next mission was to set the style to do no spelling checking.  Let me explain where you can use this.  Say you are writing a blog article about HTML coding – or even more probable, a user manual.  You can use a normal default style and when you are entering the HTML code, go to the Style Group and select your new HTML Code style.  Then, when you run your spell checker it will bypass spelling checking that section.  In my case, it is HTML code.  It could be technical terminology for engineers, or Visual Basic or C# code for programmers, or very broad medical descriptions for doctors.  I think you get the idea.

So now that I have you interested, let me show you how to set the style to not spell check.  In Word, again make sure you are on the Home ribbon and click on the Styles corner arrow.  Locate your style and right click on the name to bring up the dialog box.  You are going to choose Modify as shown here in this graphic.

After clicking Modify you want to click the Format button.

On the format dialog box choose the Language selection.

Finally, you can now check the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar box.

Whew, see, I told you it was non-intuitive.  I know it didn’t used to be this hard.  The good news is all the clicking and searching causes me to find some things that are indeed really new.  But I don’t know about you, I really don’t have the time to have to go through this every time I need to do something out of the ordinary.  Yes, I know, I can go look it up on Help, but the Microsoft Help, as my husband likes to say, “makes up for lack of function by being slow.”  That combined with my total lack of patience spells disaster or a search and destroy mission – ergo, the title of my blog article.

That’s it for today.  Several of my readers have sent me emails asking for more regular updates.  They like the ones I do on Microsoft products, so look for more in the near future.  Who knows – maybe it will become a series of articles.

Written by pregen

September 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Favorite iPad apps

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A week ago I posted a tweet asking what were people’s favorite iPad apps.  Today I’m posting what came back as a result of that poll.  We are doing a lot more work with iPads so I see a series of blog articles coming soon as we talk about different scenarios where iPads work well in a business environment and also talk about situations where they just don’t fit at all.

First off, everyone should know that the iPad is a great vehicle for games and puzzles.  One of my favorite apps is a little Suduko game by Finger Arts.   The other favorites on my iPad are Quickoffice Pro, Evernote, Dropbox, Hootsuite, Netflix, FormConnect and last but absolutely not least Kindle for iPad.

Ok, so what did I get back as replies for favorite apps. Evernote, FormConnect, AudioNotes and Suduko got mentions as replies to my tweet.  Armed with that information, here’s a blurb about each of the products menti0ned. I will post URLs for all these apps at the bottom of this post.

Evernote – this handy app keeps important information as notes up in the cloud.  It’s free if you choose to only access it via the cloud – if you want to have it on devices locally, it’s $5 per month for a subscription.  The key thing here is this app runs on PC’s, smartphones and tablets so you keep your important notes synchronized on all devices.

FormConnect – this app is a way to design forms such as invoices, patient records, etc.  As per their website, “FormConnect allows you to create your own custom forms for storing information on your iPad. Create patient records, customer contacts, expense reports, invoices, proposals, purchase orders, questionnaires, real estate listings and more.”  It only costs $9.99 and has tremendous potential for small business applications.

Quickoffice Pro – for those of us who still live in the Microsoft world, this app is a must.  It allows you to read and create Office documents on an iPad.  You can use it to view PDF files as well.  At $14.99 it is one of the more pricey iPad apps but for me is an absolute necessity.

Dropbox – what can I say.  I love Dropbox.  I’ve been using it even longer than my iPad.  Dropbox is another cloud application that allows you to store files in the cloud and also on your devices.  It is similar to Evernote – except that this is for all file types.  You “drop” a file into a folder and it automatically gets sync’d to a cloud location.  What is particularly cool is you can share a Dropbox folder with other people in your organization or with customers and vendors.  You get a nice popup on your device telling you a file has been placed in a folder.  How cool is that.  I recently used it to put a Kindle book that was out on Facebook into a Dropbox folder and then opened Dropbox on my iPad and retrieved the Kindle book.  The Dropbox app was smart enough to download the book into the Kindle app.  Cool indeed.  Even better is the fact that Dropbox is free for up to 2 gig of storage. You can add more free storage by referring people to Dropbox.  Or you can upgrade to more storage for as little as $9.99 per month.  It makes a very good inexpensive alternative for backing up critical files to the cloud. That is always a good idea for disaster recovery.

Hootsuite – if you read my blog often, you know I am into social media.  Hootsuite keeps me sane.  It allows me to manage all my social media accounts in one place, including those of my clients who I monitor as part of our social media services.  Having it on my iPad turns my iPad into a device that serves me well in a business environment.

Audio Notes – I have a cheaper version of the iPad so I don’t have a means of recording sounds.  So, I had to go look up this tool and boy I wish I had recording ability.  It looks amazing.  Here’s what it says on their website: “AudioNote combines the functionality of note-taking and voice recording apps to create a powerful tool that will save you time while improving the quality of your notes.  By synchronizing notes and audio, AudioNote automatically indexes your meetings, lectures, classes, interviews—you name it. Watch as your text and drawings highlight during playback, helping you to remember the context in which they were taken. Tap notes to seek in the audio, taking you instantly to what you want to hear.” It sounds cool indeed.

Summary

Having elderly parents around means spending time in doctor waiting rooms for me.  Traveling quite a bit and suffering through the slings and arrows of airline services also means sitting around and waiting.  Pulling out my iPad is soooooo much easier than finding a plug for my laptop.  Since I read and respond to my emails, get instant messages, check my social media, read books, play suduko, read proposals, fill out quotes, and on and on, it has become my device of choice when I know I am going to be sitting somewhere for an eternity.  I am now mobile and productive and what’s not to like about that.

That’s my first pass at this series of blog articles.  If you have a favorite iPad app or are using it creatively in your world, post a comment here.  We all would love to hear about creative uses for this evolving technology.

And finally as promised, here are URL’s for all these apps.

http://www.evernote.com

http://www.formconnections.com

http://www.dropbox.com

http://www.quickoffice.com

http://www.hootsuite.com

http://luminantsoftware.com/iphone/audionote.html

Suduko 2 by Finger Arts – find it on the Apple store with your iPad

Written by pregen

September 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Black holes and Boomerangs Revisited

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Back in 2009 I wrote a piece on Black Holes and Boomerangs.  It had nothing to do with science or curved wooden implements.  I almost kept a small boomerang when I came back from Australia in April because of my prior post.  I have written that as a blog article, a magazine post, and turned it into a speech.  Now I wish I had that real Aussie boomerang to hang on my wall.  Because they’re BACK.  Like THE MOVIE.  You know which movie.

I have to work on a pretty intensive project that is going to keep me busy possibly forever – no kidding aside.  So, I have embarked on pushing projects out to people on my staff. I have to.  The projects won’t get done unless I do this and trust them.  Well, there you go.  It’s the trust them part that is failing.  Because I did.  And it failed. And they are back in my court.  Boomerangs.  There are two to four black holes out there that I probably need to follow up on because they will never become boomerangs.  They will just hang and languish with the hopes that nobody notices they are missing in action.

Ring a bell with you? It should.  It happens all the time.  All over the world.  It just can’t happen in my world because too many external things are going on right now and I need people bellying up to the bar so to speak.  And not drinking.  And not turning the project back to me – which is the boomerang part – or letting the project drift off into never never land never to be heard from again – which is the black hole part.

And I am at a loss as to what to do.  I just confronted said guilty parties and got the classic “duh, dear in head lights, surely you can’t mean me, I am innocent, obviously you  are a crazed women” look. Gosh I hate that look.  I want to take paint varnish and smear it off their faces. It’s like they think I am stupid or something. My goodness, can you tell I am upset.

We are at a crossroads here.  I need people standing up and taking charge.  Instead, I am surrounded by ostriches. My task for the day will be to figure out a way to inspire these people to get the heck out of ostrich-dom and take responsibility.  Ah, but this is not an easy thing to do – especially when they are family.  Ah, family in the business.  Gee, that’s another blog article.

I have empowered them.  I have stepped away and not hovered over them.  I’ve done all the things I should do to make them responsible.  But it is not happening. Next mission is to figure out how to motivate non-motivatable people.  Is that a word? Should be.  Ah, that will be my next blog article.

So, on a less than spectacular day, I bid you adieu while I go off to Googleland to look up how to deal with deadbeats.

For those interested, here’s the link to the original blog post. By the way – the same people are involved. Sigh.  Some things never change.

https://pregen.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/black-holes-and-boomerangs/

Written by pregen

July 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Posting on Linkedin from Twitter – A “How to” after their divorce

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As of June, 2012, Twitter and Linkedin got a divorce.  By that, I mean they both elected to stop allowing tweets to post on Linkedin statuses. I have read conflicting reasons for the breakup.  Some articles say Twitter changed their policy where you couldn’t have tweets appear on anything that “looked” like Twitter, ie. a status update page. Hm, if that is true, then why can Tweets still be posted to Facebook?  Other articles claim Linkedin has been hurt by both Twitter and Facebook and is trying to draw people back to using them as the vehicle for social  media and turning off Twitter would bring people back to the fold.  Hm again.

Some people thought this was a plus.  I however, did not.  I use Twitter has my main social media posting device.  It would post to both Facebook and Linkedin saving me lots of redundant typing.  I didn’t like the Linkedin format so I didn’t frequent it very often.  Recently they updated their format to be more Facebook like and in my opinion made it even worse.  For the sake of my business marketing, I need to ensure I stay current on Linkedin. When the Twitter and Linkedin divorce occurred it hit me hard.  Until today.

It’s Sunday and I use this day to troll around the net looking for good information for tweeting and learning.  I stumbled on a blog post talking about IFTTT – which stands for “If this then that.”  Basically, you develop some trigger, like a #in hashtag in my case, or a username, and it will then do whatever you tell it to do – like put photos into Dropbox, or send tweets to Linkedin.  Awesome.  I could have set it up to just use my Twitter logon name as a trigger, but I like the idea of putting in the hashtag because this way I can choose to not post something to Linkedin that doesn’t need to be there.  In fact, that’s the way it used to work but I changed to having automatic posts because I kept forgetting the hashtag.  Sigh.  Guess I’m back to remembering it again.

Since this helped me, I thought I’d share it as a quick blog article today in hopes it might help someone else.  The website is http://ifttt.com.

Here’s the link to the blog I found – it has several other useful tips for Linkedin as well.  http://marketingland.com/10-linkedin-shortcuts-for-a-post-twitter-world-16733

Written by pregen

July 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm

The Changing World of Sales and Marketing

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Last week, I had a great lunch with a friend here in town who owns a marketing firm that has a particular emphasis on social media.  One of the things we discussed is the changing face of marketing.   What is also changing is the role of sales and salespeople. My company is really starting to focus on changing how we sell and market based on what I am seeing in the industry.  The whole topic gave me the idea for today’s post.

I’m going to start it off with this chicken and egg question – which came first – marketing or sales.  Talk to a Salesperson and they will tell you it was them knocking on doors and making calls that brought the people to the door.  Talk to the marketing department and they say “ well, heck no, if the customer had never heard of our product, the sales person wouldn’t have gotten to first base.”  That’s why I call it a chicken and egg question.  Which aspect indeed is first?

Often, I run into organizations who think they are one and the same – to which I say, absolutely, unequivocally, NOT.  And if that organization thinks this, they are probably in trouble or going to be soon.  There are different rules and techniques required for each process.  And that’s what is changing.  And it’s changing for both sales AND marketing.

Social Media and Social CRM are rapidly changing how we interact with our customers.  It’s no longer a push situation – it’s a two way communication model.  The customer indeed wants to hear about the product or service and wants to talk pricing.  But after they have gotten the product, they want the dialog to continue. They want the ability to complain or compliment or suggest or comment on an ongoing basis.

Recently I read an article that “claimed” the sales person was going to become obsolete.  Websites, online marketing, “here kitty kitty” advertising, Facebook, all of the above would drive customers to buy.  Sales people would become an unnecessary burden and expense. Humph.  I don’t agree.  But I do agree how people sell will need to change to accommodate the new emerging online model.

It used to be that the role of salespeople was to advise customers of products and solutions.  The savvy customer can now find that on their own.  So, why would you need a salesperson?  The fact that  the customer can find it out on their own is why you need a salesperson.  The customer is probably overwhelmed with too much information and needs someone to help them figure out what’s right and wrong for their requirements.  The salesperson role is changing to that of a trusted adviser who knows what’s up and can help guide you, hopefully honestly, thru the morass of information to a workable solution.

My advice for salespeople is to become very literate with the internet tools.  Know what it means to be on Twitter.  Sign up for Linkedin, the world’s largest old boy network.  Join groups on Linkedin that are pertinent to your product and services.  Become a voice, and not just a lurker.  If you don’t, the new young guy following behind you will.  This is the world of the future, trust me, and it behooves salespeople to embrace it and become proficient social media pundits.   Or wait by the wayside while the other guy does.

Written by pregen

July 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Analyzing your CRM data – a continuing story

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Over the past several months, I have written a couple of articles talking about drilling down into your customer data.  No matter what tool you are using (and I hope you are using something), keeping track of daily interactions with your customers is crucial to knowing what they need, what they are asking for, and what is trending in your world.  It allows you to be nimble and responsive if there is a sudden downturn in the economy.  This is an election year – we always see businesses put projects on hold while they wait to see what is going to happen in November.  Factor into that an already shaky economy and you start seeing drops in sales.

You can try to stay ahead of this downturn by looking back at data and finding opportunities.  We get caught up in the day to day minutia and cannot see the forest for the trees.  It is important for you, as a business person, to step back and look at your customer base from 50,000 feet.  That is where data analysis can help.

You can either do this yourself, with some tips on what to look for or you can find a CRM Analyst.  I have not used that term in any of my blogs, but more and more that is what we are becoming.  We do tend to focus on one product, SAGE ACT, but what we do works for any application used to keep track of customer interactions.  In fact, I just spent a few days building a really slick Excel “reporting engine” for lack of a better term.  It goes out and pulls in data from ACT into Excel where pivot tables allow the end user to slice and dice the data any way they like.  Pivot tables can show interesting things very quickly.  It’s that 50,000 foot syndrome.  Instead of looking at a single contact record, you can now look at it from a higher level.  You can do year to year comparisons.  You can quickly spot trends or notice areas where you are missing contacts.  I call this mining for data gems.

Examples of trends and things to watch for are:
Finding customers likely to buy again – have they bought in the last 2 years?
Which customers generated the most closed sales?
Why were opportunties lost? Is it a trend in price, quality, competition?
Which customers have not been contacted in 6 months?
Do you have customers who have reached a certain dollar level?
Do you sell more in certain months? If so, what can be done for the lower months?
Which customers have not been contacted in 6 months?
Do you have customers who have reached a certain dollar level?

Recently we are helping customers set up drip marketing campaigns.  Those are important but equally important is going back and analyzing the results of the campaigns.  Were some more effective than others? If so, why?  Was it the right subject matter?  Did the subject line entice them enough to open the email?  That’s why we love using the eMarketing aspect in Sage ACT – it will tell us open rates, and even how often they opened the emails.  That’s very telling all by itself.  They were interested enough to open the email more than once.  But you need to be able to see that quickly so you can react quickly.  It’s all about looking for the data

Data analysis is an ongoing effort.  You don’t do this once and stop.  The economy changes, peoples requirements shift and in the technology space, it’s a rapidly moving target.  Constant review is necessary to ensure you are ahead of a downward trend.

CRM Analysis doesn’t have to be rocket science.  For example, using Excel is a very good and inexpensive way to find data gems.  You will either need to spend a little money with a CRM analyst to set this up for you or take a stab at it yourself.  Everybody has that “Excel” or numbers guru in their organization.  You know who they are.  And YOU know your business, so you will work with the Analyst to advise them of what you sell, and where you want to be.  The Analyst will know how to go look for the data based on your requirements.  If they are really good, they will have ideas of their own and recommendations and approaches on looking for data trends that you may not have even thought of.

As we do more and more of this type of work, I am realizing it’s not just ACT that is the driver.  It’s the data.  It’s the interactions with the customer and how to turn that into increased revenue.  I want Patricia Egen Consulting to become known as people to trust for doing data analysis.  We really like watching companies succeed by doing simple things like watching their data and reacting correctly.  Stay tuned for more articles on how to find data gems.

Written by pregen

July 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Maui Rules to Live By on a grumpy kinda day

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Ok, I’ve calmed down a bit.  I was grumpy this morning and my prior post today was not a positive one.  It’s not good to have a bad energy day. It’s reflected in your work, in your interactions with customer and staff, and any pet who happens to walk by.  Just kidding.  The pet gets petted – the staff gets growled at – big difference.  All kidding aside, it really isn’t good to have negativity in the day.

So, I decided to perk up a bit and post something more fun.  There is a wonderful document on my wall.  I originally read the sayings on a T-Shirt in Hawaii and furiously scribbled it down on a napkin and when I got back in town, put it in Photoshop and framed it. All of the sayings are true and I just love the thoughts.  They are called Maui Rules. Here’s they are:

1. Never judge a day by the weather

2.  The best things in life aren’t things

3. Tell the truth – there’s less to remember

4. Speak softly and wear a loud shirt

5. Goals are deceptive – the unaimed arrow never misses

6. He who dies with the most toys – still dies

7. Age is relative – when you’re over the hill you pick up speed

8. There are 2 ways to be rich – make more or desire less

9.  Beauty is internal – looks mean nothing

10. No Rain – no rainbows.

There, I feel better.  It’s not my style to be negative and grumpy – even when there are trying things going on in my business or life.  Positive attitudes help in everything we do – business, life, whatever.  Ok, that’s it for the mushy stuff.  Back to work again.

Ciao, y’all.

 

Written by pregen

July 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Posted in Ramblings

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