Saturday, April 30, 2011

iMac: Installing Parallels and Windows 7

Our PC recently gave up the ghost, and my husband Robert decided to get an Apple computer to replace it.  We were both sick of our PCs giving us problems -- slowing down, malfunctioning, etc. -- and had heard great things about Apple computers including that they are more stable, run just as fast three years down the road as the day it is brought home, and are less susceptible to viruses.

After several trips to our local Apple store, we finally decided on getting a 21.5" iMac.  It has a beautiful, large LED screen and all of the computer innards are contained in what looks like just a monitor.  I wasn't sure I would like the very low profile keyboard, but I do. It certainly frees up room on my desk.  I also love the wireless mouse, especially the way you can scroll without using a wheel.  Transitioning to a Mac involves a little bit of a learning curve, but Apple has great resources to help you in that regard (see future post).

Because we do have Windows-based software that we want to continue using, Robert decided to install Parallels on the iMac.  Parallels is the top-rated software for running the Windows operating system on a Macintosh computer.  According to one of the guys in blue shirts at the Apple store, Jonathan, it's been around since the 1990's.  Robert did not have any trouble (that I know of) installing Parallels.  We had to wait several days to install Windows because we ordered Windows 7 Ultimate off of Amazon.  I'll be honest:  I don't know why Robert decided on the Ultimate version of Windows 7.  I would've been happy with the Home Premium version.

Robert did have trouble installing Windows 7 using Parallels.  It allowed us to create a new virtual machine.  When it popped open a black window that resembled a boot-up screen, it said several things including that BOOTMGR was missing and that Parallels Tools needed to be installed. Robert couldn't do anything with it, and I couldn't do anything with it.  I tried looking on the Parallels website which wasn't much help.  Since I had an appointment at the Apple Store for some "tutoring" Robert told me to ask them to help me.  Jonathan, who is a great, personable, and helpful teacher, openly admitted that neither he nor anybody else there would be able to help and suggested I contact Parallels.  I had read that phone support would cost money and I really didn't want to pay if I didn't have to.  So I utilized Google to do a search for installing Parallels Tools.  Within a few short minutes, I found a website (sorry, I didn't save it) that helped.

The first thing I did was I told Parallels to create a new virtual machine and I renamed it "Windows 7 2nd attempt" (rather than the default "Windows 7").  With the Windows 7 installation disk inserted in the CD-ROM drive, it immediately began installing Windows 7 without so much as a hiccup.

That solved that problem.

The other problem that came up was that when I tried to startup Parallels/Windows 7 in my husband's user account, it didn't list the Windows 7 2nd Attempt virtual machine.  Back to Google which helped yet again.

I had to activate a Finder window, click on Macintosh HD, open up the Shared folder, open up Parallels folder, and double-click on the Windows 7 2nd Attempt icon.

I should note that when we set up the virtual machine, we told it to act like a PC which enables the sharing feature.

Clicking on that icon allowed Parallels to recognize that virtual machine while in Robert's user account.

When starting up Parallels and clicking on Use a Virtual Machine, it showed both virtual machines (Windows 7 and Windows 7 2nd Attempt).  The original Windows 7 will not work so it's pointless to have it listed.  Removing it from the list is as simple as clicking and dragging to the desktop and dropping it.

I also removed the icons from the desktop by dragging them to the trash can.

It took a little bit of searching and working, but we finally got it to working like we want it to.  I have yet to install any Windows based software, but Robert has.  Should there be any issues, you'll hear about it in a future post!
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Recipe Review: Cowboy Casserole

I get the Daily Dish emails from I don't always save these emails and rarely do I really get to try them out. However, when I saw the recipe for Cowboy Casserole a couple of days ago, I immediately wanted to try it. The author of the recipe uses it while camping. It involves just one pot (gotta love that!). Basically, you cook up some bacon and cut it up; set it aside; drain the grease; cook onions and ground beef; drain; add baked beans, BBQ sauce, and the onions; and cook until boiling. Finally, turn down the heat, put refrigerated biscuit dough on top, cover with a lid, and cook until the biscuits are done. For the full recipe, go to the link above.

The recipe said to use a dutch oven or a skillet. My deep skillet (nonstick) was in the dishwasher, so I had to use my dutch oven. The bacon kinda stuck and left behind particles, but the hamburger and onions absorbed the particles, leaving a smooth surface. I didn't have enough BBQ sauce, unfortunately, but put in what I had. The recipe said that the biscuits would take 10 minutes to cook. They took a LOT longer than that, probably more like 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the meat mixture started burning on the bottom as the biscuits were finishing up. I had to take the pot off the burner, and now I am going to have to use some serious elbow grease to clean that pot.

Overall, it was a good dish, but could have been a lot better had I better executed the dish. Next time, I will use my nonstick deep skillet and I will probably cook the biscuits in the oven. I like the idea of cooking them with the casserole in one dish, but it didn't brown so it wasn't as visually appealing. My husband Robert liked it -- he ate two big helpings of it. He did say that it's not something that he would want all the time, though. I liked it, too, but I feel like it could some kind of spice to give it some more flavor -- maybe chili powder.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Activities for Children in Memphis -- Sunday

Our Sundays are spent going to church, working around the house, and, if Gracie cooperates, taking a nap! We haven't done any of the activities.

3 PM -- Search Party at the Children's Museum of Memphis
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Activities for Children in Memphis -- Saturday

We haven't been to any of these. Our Saturdays are usually spent doing other things.

2 PM -- Welcome to Oz at the Children's Museum of Memphis

3:30 PM -- Okie Dokie Karaoke at the Children's Museum of Memphis

3:30 PM -- Super Science at the Children's Museum of Memphis
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Activities for Children in Memphis -- Friday

Here are the activities available on Fridays.

9:30 AM -- Preschool Open Gym at Sega Gymnastics and Cheer, Collierville, TN
200 South Main Street
I have not been to this, and I only heard about it, and do not know if it was a one-time-only thing or weekly activity.  Fee is $5 per child, parents are free.

10 AM -- Fabulous Fine Art at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We haven't done this yet.

11 AM -- Storytime at the Davis-Kidd Bookstore
This is THE BEST Storytime we have attended in Memphis! See Tuesday Activities for more information.

12 PM -- R&R Storytime at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We went one time (on our very first visit to the Museum) and was NOT impressed with the storytime. However, we LOVE the indoor toddler play area!!

3:30 PM -- Okie Dokie Karaoke at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We haven't done this and we're not likely to.
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Activities for Children in Memphis -- Thursday

Because Gracie and I go to Ladies Prayer Group at our church on Thursday mornings, followed by brunch at Cracker Barrel, we typically do not get to do any other activities.

10 AM -- Tot Art at the Children's Museum of Memphis (ages 1-4)
We haven't gone to this one yet.

10 AM (2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month) -- MOPS meeting at Grace Evangelical Church, Germantown, TN
Phone: (901) 756-7444
We haven't attended any meetings of this group.

10:30 AM -- Wiggle Worms Storytime at Collierville Library (ages 18 months - 3 years)
Gracie is not quite old enough to attend this Storytime.

10:30 AM -- Storytime at Cordova Library (Toddlers)
We haven't been to this one, either. I have visited this library and really liked it.

11 AM -- Storytime at Davis-Kidd Bookstore
This is THE BEST Storytime we have attended in Memphis! See Tuesday Activities for more information.

11:15 AM -- Storytime at Collierville Library (ages 12 months to 5 years)
We went to this one a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. There was singing and crafts in addition to the story.

11:30 AM -- Storytime at Cordova Library (Preschool)
Gracie is too young for this one so it'll be a while before we can go.

12 PM -- R&R Storytime at Children's Museum of Memphis
Bottom Line: Didn't like it.

3 PM -- Book Worms at the Children's Museum of Memphis
I've read they do a story and a craft. This is too late in the day for us to attend.
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Activities for Children in Memphis -- Wednesday

Wednesdays usually are not a good day for us to do anything, but there are some good things available.

9:15 AM (1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month) -- MOPS meeting at Germantown Baptist Church
Phone: (901) 756-9450
I've been wanting to attend a MOPS meeting somewhere. I'm not sure if Gracie is old enough since she is a toddler and not a preschooler. Hopefully, I'll get to attend one of these meetings.

9:30 AM -- Tots & Trikes at FunQuest, Collierville, TN
$2 admission, $5 for admission and lunchbox
We went to FunQuest to attend Tots & Trikes, but unknown to us, it was cancelled that day due to a large group of schoolchildren coming for a field trip. We haven't been back yet.

9:30 AM (every other Wednesday) -- MOPS meeting at Central Church in Collierville, TN
Phone: (901) 888-4673
We hope to try this one, too.

10 AM - 4 PM -- Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
On Wednesdays, you set your own admission fee.

10 AM -- Storytime at Central Library in Memphis, TN
This is for toddlers (ages 2-3).

10 AM (1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month) -- MOPS meeting at the First Assembly of God in Cordova, TN
Phone: (901) 843-8600

12 PM -- R&R Storytime at the Children's Museum of Memphis
This is the only Wednesday activity that we've gone to (and it may not have been on a Wednesday since they have it on Thursdays and Fridays as well). I found this storytime to be very disappointing. The girl read the book and that was it. She didn't even really read with any kind of expression or interest. I don't know if they have different people read on different days and maybe they each do something a little different, but it was not a fun experience for us.

1:00 PM -- Pint Sized Science at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We haven't been at the museum at the right time to catch this one.

3:30 PM -- Around the World at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We probably won't ever get to see this since it's later in the day.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Activities for Children in Memphis -- Tuesday

There are quite a few things for children to do in Memphis on Tuesdays.

10 AM -- My First Book Club at the Children's Museum of Memphis
Gracie and I attended this special storytime a few weeks ago. Overall, we enjoyed it. The girl read the story, we did a craft, and ate snacks. It's supposed to be for ages 2-4, which I didn't know until I was looking up information to write this post, but the girl didn't say anything and Gracie did fine.

10:30 AM -- Bookworms (Storytime) at the Collierville Library (ages 3-5)
We haven't yet gone to this since Gracie is not yet old enough.

11 AM -- Storytime at Davis-Kidd Bookstore
This is, in my opinion, THE BEST Storytime in Memphis! Mrs. Marjorie does a fabulous job with the children! She sings songs, interacts with them, and reads a story. There are specially-made bleachers for moms and kids to sit on. There are also two train tables and other toys for children to enjoy while at the bookstore. During Storytime, the trains go "night-night" so as not to be a distraction for the children.

11 AM -- Storytime at Barnes & Noble Bookstore near the Wolfchase Mall
Gracie and I went to this one one time. The lady did an ok job reading. I would not clear my schedule to go to this particular Storytime; however, if we happened to be there or in the immediate area, I would let Gracie attend every once in a while.

12-6 PM -- Memphis Botanic Gardens
I read somewhere that entrance to the Memphis Botanic Gardens is free on Tuesday afternoons. However, I could not find anything about it on their website. Weather permitting, Gracie and I will be going here this Tuesday afternoon. I want to take Easter/Spring pictures of her among the beautiful flowers.

1 PM -- Super Sing-A-Long at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We haven't been to this activity yet.

1-5 PM -- Lichterman Nature Center
Robert and I have been meaning to go here for a couple of years, but we haven't made it there yet. Admission is free on Tuesday afternoons.

1-5 PM -- Pink Palace Museum
For me and Robert, the best thing about the Pink Palace Museum is the IMAX Theater. This is the only public movie theater that we attend. The exhibits are fun (I've been there on school field trips), and the planetarium show was ok. Entrance to the exhibits only is free on Tuesday afternoons. I think Gracie is old enough now that she would enjoy seeing some of the exhibits.

2:00 PM (1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month) -- Wiggles & Tickles (Storytime) at the Collierville Library (ages 6 months to 23 months)
We have not yet been to this particular Storytime. We did attend another one that is held on Thursdays and really enjoyed it. I really, really like this library. I wish it were part of the Memphis Public Library system and/or that we lived closer to it!

2-5 PM -- Memphis Zoo
Gracie and I visited the Memphis Zoo with some friends from Beautiful Bundles last summer. Tuesday afternoons are free for Tennessee residents (however, parking will still set you back $5). There was a long line to get in, but it went through very quickly as all you had to do was flash your ID. The zoo is a great place, and I look forward to taking Gracie again. I'm hoping to get a gift membership for Christmas next year.

3:30 PM -- Family Trivia at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We have not attended this activity yet as Gracie is still too young to participate.
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Activities for Children in Memphis -- Monday

There are a number of activities available for children living in the Memphis Area. I will be talking about the ones that I know of and will update as more information is available.

10 AM -- Toddler Playgroup at the Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women
I have not actually attended this one yet as Monday is just about my worst day for optional scheduled things. Most, if not all, of the children and mommies come from the Beautiful Bundles group that meets on Thursdays (facilitated by expert baby nurses).

10 AM -- Science 2 Go at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We haven't caught this one in action yet.

11 AM -- Storytime at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Collierville, TN (Carriage Crossing)
Gracie and I attended this storytime just before Valentine's Day, and we loved it! The storyteller read an Amelia Bedelia book about Valentine's Day and did a GREAT job! She was lively, spoke with much expression, and was very funny. In addition to the story, she had crafts for the children to do and snacks for them to enjoy.

1 PM -- Art in the Afternoon at the Children's Museum of Memphis
Gracie and I have not attended this activity yet, but it looks like a lot of fun! When we are able to go, I will let you know how we like it. As a side note, we received a gift membership to the CMOM for Christmas, and it's been one of our favorite gifts to enjoy!

3-5 PM -- National Civil Rights Museum
On Mondays during this time, entrance to the National Civil Rights Museum is free (for Tennessee residents)! We haven't been here, either, mainly because I don't like to drive in that part of Memphis by myself.

3:30 PM -- Move and Groove at the Children's Museum of Memphis
We haven't been to this one since it's later in the day and too close to the time when Daddy comes home from work.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mac Attack!

Since I last blogged -- and, yes, I remember quite well that I said I would write again in a few days -- our laptop attempted to give up the ghost and is now in an induced coma. Translation: Blue Screen of Death and dismantled hard drive.

My husband decided that we would get an Apple computer to replace it (though I'm still hoping we can get the laptop fixed so that I can some of my favorite PC software). After 4 or 5 trips to the Apple Store, as well as several trips to Best Buy, we finally settled on the iMac. I love the big screen! It's been some 20 years since I last used a Mac, so it's taking some getting used to. In the future, I hope to share with you some things I've learned and will be learning. To help, I checked out some books from the library (which I've only had time to briefly browse through) and I will be having a One-to-One session at the Apple store on Friday. In the meantime, I've started a list of questions to ask.

I haven't yet synced my iPad or my iPhone using this computer's iTunes because I'm afraid of losing data -- namely, pictures and videos of my daughter.

Speaking of which, I did use a really, really neat app called Photo Transfer to transfer some photos and videos from my iPhone to this computer over our wireless internet. It took some time to transfer the videos, but at least I have them on the computer. I forgot to mention that barely a week before the laptop died, I backed up the hard drive. I was able to do a partial backup of the files since the total backup when the computer was giving its last breaths.

On the home front, the inside of our house is painted and it looks great! I can't wait to show you pictures (soon!). Robert has decided to paint the outside of the house. He has started on it and the man who painted the inside will finish the job. It's looking really good!

I've been able to do some decluttering and boxing up of things in the house, so it's starting to look much better; in fact, the house has never looked better! We still have some areas to tackle (like my dining room table which is housing things to go on the wall and other things to keep out of reach of my 14-month-old), but it's coming along quite well! I will be posting the progress soon. I still have yet to pop my SD card from my camera into the Mac. I'm looking forward to trying out the iPhoto program. So much to do, and so little time!

Ava Kinsey
AKA The 21st Century Keeper at Home
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