As Bruce Wayne transforms into Batman when duty calls, I too have an alternative identity from morning to night.
When evening falls I unwind by cooking, reading recipes, browsing blogs, editing photos and writing for Gidget Eats. I’d like to be posting content more regularly and baking experimental batches of cookies all for the sake of my readers, but I have a day job. And sorrowfully, it’s not for the food section of Southern Living or Cook’s Illustrated magazine.
I’m a food blogger at night and computer geek by day. Unlike Batman, I refuse to wear a cape.
For work I have been diligently compiling a list of website resources that are available online, for little to no cost. Compelled to share, I figure other people might find these to be helpful. Everyone likes free.
This post will be the first in a sporadic series of website resources ranging from development tools, image editors, pattern generators, font libraries, online publishing and project management organizers. No matter if you utilize the basic blog service from WordPress.com (like Gidget Eats), build sites using Dreamweaver, or code using ASP.net, you’ll be able to use something. Then, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
*Dropbox | https://www.dropbox.com
When you upload files on Dropbox, it automatically saves them to your authorized computers, phones and the Dropbox website. You can then access the files anywhere, change them and share links with other users.
Program download, 2GB free or paid monthly subscriptions
MediaFire | https://www.mediafire.com
MediaFire offers unlimited file sizes, uploads, downloads and does not require a registration. Store files on their cloud and share them through links or email with other users.
Online service, up to 200MB free for a limited time or paid monthly subscriptions for more space and features
*Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) | http://aws.amazon.com/s3/
The online giant offers a storage service for developers. They have a complicated looking calculator to determine cost, but from my experience it is very minimal – for example, up to your first 1TB/mo the storage rate can be either $0.125-$0.093 per GB.
Online service, minimal cost depending on file actions and size
Crashplan | http://www.crashplan.com
This is a computer backup system for all your computers, regardless of operating system. The free CrashPlan version is designed for personal use, online backup is offered with paid subscriptions.
Program download and online service, free basic plan and 30 day trial of CrashPlan+, or paid monthly subscriptions
*W3C Markup Validation Service | http://validator.w3.org
Brought to you by the almighty World Wide Web Consortium who develops and upholds web standards, this tool validates and checks the markup of web documents in HTML, XHTML, etc. You can input webpage by URL, file upload or direct code copy and paste.
Online service, free
*W3C CSS Validation Service | http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
Same as the markup service, the W3C also offers CSS validation.
Online service, free
SEO Logic | http://www.seologic.com/guide/history/google
This website offers a free online SEO analyzer report, tools, an explanation and guide to the world of search engine optimization, and a large library of FAQs.
Online service, free
Search Engine Land | http://searchengineland.com
Another SEO website, Search Engine Land has all of the tips, news and information regarding search engine optimization you could ever want.
net2ftp | http://net2ftp.com
Access your website files anywhere with this web-based FTP client.
Program download or online service
*EVO (Evolution Web Development) | http://www.evowebdev.com
I downloaded and used this free four-column grid for my latest web work, which allows for clear, organized design layouts. There is a Photoshop and WordPress theme template available, in addition to other tools and development tips.
File download, free
MockFlow | http://mockflow.com
This tool enables you to design simple user interface mockups and collaborate with others. The free basic account has restrictions on the number of mockups, collaborators and other features.
Program download and online service, free basic plan or $69/yr for a premium account
Cacoo | https://cacoo.com
Cacoo is another wire framing tool where you create diagrams online and then save, share or download them to your computer.
Online service, free plan, $49/yr Plus plan or different Team levels
Lumzy | http://www.lumzy.com
A fast mockup designer and prototyping tool, you can use this to build wire frames and sketches online for free. There are a lot of different controls and it seems to be easy to use.
Online service, free
*Denotes resources I have personally used.
I am in a book club, the Book Belles. No, it’s not nerdy at all. We meet to socialize, eat and try our best to discuss a book.
Being responsible for not only selecting the book of the month in December, I also was playing hostess, in charge of finding a suitable place to meet, eat and have our Christmas ornament swap. This was turning out to be a trickier task than handling damage control for Herman Cain.
Mentally running through a list of possible reads, I kept coming back to Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. Not only does Ruth have incredible merits as a food writer, her stories from when she was a critic are a solid mix of tasteful insight and humor. It was the perfect opportunity to foist my foodie passion on my friends, muuhahaha (evil laugh!).
The next item to tackle was securing a restaurant during the holiday season, with a small private room, at no extra cost. Needless to say, I came up short on my own and took to Twitter for help. Thankfully, others chimed in offering these suggestions:
Strawberry Cafe – private rooms for a high minimum spend
Sombra Mexican Kitchen – private room for a high minimum spend
Char – private room for a high minimum spend
CS’s – they sell beer, but had been informed you can BYO liquor/wine?
Bon Ami – BYO wine
Sal and Mookies – minimum spend with a buffet spread?
Georgia Blue – the big winner!
Georgia Blue came out the winner for numerous reasons: you can reserve their private room, it was available, there is no minimum spend or room fee, and the menu has a range of dishes to satisfy a group. The date was set, I re-read the book and wrapped my ornament.
Anticipating our arrival or tipped off by our geekiness, the hostess immediately identified members of the Book Belles as we trickled in. She was very gracious, as was our waitress Jessica, who did an outstanding job taking care of us throughout the evening and didn’t roll her eyes when we asked for 12 separate checks.
Having eaten at Georgia Blue before, I was fairly certain everyone would enjoy their meal. The room was an extra pleasant surprise. It comfortably fit 12 people, had extra tables, monitors/televisions, a projector and door to close when the live music started. It does have a strange red glow, which is why our group photo is black and white.
We talked, we ate, attempted to discuss the book (this happens on a varying degree) and swapped ornaments by playing a cut-throat game of Dirty Santa. Evidence pictured above.
Unlike Ruth there were no disguises, but just the same, Georgia Blue didn’t know I was writing this post. We had a great experience worthy of sharing and I figured someone else might also be searching for a room in the Jackson metro area.
Thank you Georgia Blue, happy eating and reading!
If you know of other restaurants in the area with private rooms, please leave a comment below.
We’ve finally reached temperatures most normal lands (I kid) have enjoyed for a month or so. With the onset of autumn I’ve been eating like a bear, especially during the first Jackson Restaurant Week when I wrote about Parlor Market and Bravo!, and hunting down fried foods at the Mississippi State Fair. At this rate I’ll have built up plenty of personal insulation to hibernate throughout the winter.
To pack on your own padding, fill up on pumpkin or take advantage of the freebies restaurants have been offering lately. Let me know if I missed anything that falls into either category.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling: Serious Eats
I will be baking these with cans of pumpkin I may have hoarded since last year.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothies: Peas and Thank You
This smoothie looks like fall in a glass and begs to be topped with real whipped cream. Yum.
How to Make a Pumpkin Spice Latte: Recipe Girl
There is a soft spot in my heart for the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte. This recipe is a great find because we have a Keurig and Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice coffee pods.
10 New Pumpkin Beers: Serious Beer
My curiosity may get the best of me.
6 Fall Beers You Should Be Drinking Right Now: Chowhound
I’m throwing in this article for my husband and the beer lovers.
List of Birthday Freebies: The lovely ladies over at Southern Savers have complied a list of birthday freebies. Many places require registration, all are clearly marked. From a previous post, an oldie but goodie.
Aj’s on the Lake: Sign-up for their email newsletter, fill out your birthday information and receive a free entree on your birthday.
Julep: Occasionally they will send out coupons for those subscribed to their email newsletter. I recently received a coupon for a free dessert or cocktail ($8) with an entree purchase. Sign-up to receive text messages and get 10% off your next entree purchase.
Cerami’s: On your birthday, bring your ID to Cerami’s and they will treat you to one of four entrees for free.
Pan Asia: In the past I’ve gotten coupons for a free dessert for my birthday and anniversary. Subscribe to their email newsletter and fill out the appropriate dates.
Mangia Bene Restaurant Group / When your Team Wins: For registering with this website you will receive ten deals from BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar, Broad Street Baking Company and Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint. The first coupon I got is for a free pastry with coffee purchase at Broad Street, not bad.
On a personal note, I was very sad to hear about Craig Noone’s passing. On the few occasions our paths crossed at the Parlor Market he always went out of his way to say hello. The Jackson area food scene lost a great chef and the world lost a warm soul.
Despite the blistering Mississippi heat, It’s been a cool week. Cool as in awesome!
The other day I won 10 oz. of free froyo at Sweet Tree Yogurt, realized County Connections is having a giveaway with tons of great prizes, and a representative from blissmobox contacted me about hosting a giveaway of their new blissmobox.
After clicking on nearly every link on the blissmobox website and learning more about their mission, I am happy to host a giveaway.
The blissmobox is a monthly subscription of organic and eco-friendly products sent to your door. It’s an easy way to explore these types of products which promote a greener, healthier lifestyle without breaking the bank. Visit the blissmobox website to learn more about the monthly box and how to subscribe.
The blissmobox is a product of blissmo.com, a new service offering organic, eco-friendly products and services at a discount. Blissmo.com is similar to Groupon or LivingSocial, members receive an email featuring a daily deal you can buy at a significant savings.
One blissmobox delivered to your door.
How to Enter
There are two requirements to enter the giveaway:
1. Sign-up to receive the e-newsletter at the blissmobox website.
2. Leave a comment on this post below, telling me one thing that makes you happy. Free froyo, giveaways and sample boxes definitely make me a happy camper.
The Fine Print
I will accept one comment/entry, per person. The giveaway ends at midnight (CT) Monday, July 18. One winner will be selected at random and announced the following day. This giveaway is sponsored by blissmobox.
The pleading paid off and I won a gift card to Walker’s Drive In. Booyah.
So, to continue the good energy…
Because I appreciate every single person who reads Gidget Eats…
Because free + food tend to cause excitement…
And, because it’s Friday…I’m going to host my very first blog giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to Foodzie. Foodzie is an online marketplace featuring items from small food producers. The products range from kimchi to popcorn to truffles. (Check out this Matcha Green Tea Assortment, swoon!)
How to Enter
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post below and answer this question:
What’s one of your guilty pleasures (food-related)?
Currently mine are Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Eggs, jalapeno potato chips and M&Ms, to name a few.
The Fine Print
I will accept one comment/entry, per person. The giveaway ends at midnight, central time Tuesday, April 5. One winner will be selected at random and announced Wednesday, April 6. This giveaway is sponsored by Gidget Eats. Rule breakers risk being beaten with a wet spaghetti noodle.