Monday, September 17, 2018

Go Away, Already!

Summer does not want to leave this year. Two weekends ago we had a cold front come through and I opened up all of the windows. The coolness lasted until the end of the week, when the increasing heat and humidity forced us to close the house up again and turn on the air conditioner.

Since then temperatures during the day are in the mid-90s Fahrenheit, and close to 100 if you factor in the humidity. (As a comparison, the average temperature at this time of year is 80 degrees.) The weather people are promising that there will be a break in the heat this weekend, with temperatures getting back to normal. I hope so.

The past few days I've been walking right after breakfast, while there's still a little coolness in the air.  Today I saw this fairy ring that popped up overnight in a neighbor's yard. 

Five years ago today: No Seedlings Wanted!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wanted: Cookies

Back in the spring you might remember that I helped Hubby Tony bake some cookies to donate to a prison retreat.

Tony was invited to serve on the team planning the next retreat, which will take place next month. Each team member is asked to provide 40 dozen homemade cookies to provide a "bottomless bowl" for the weekend, and I told him he could count on me to do some baking.

That's turned out to be easier said than done. The planning meetings take place on Saturdays, and they're an all day commitment. My plan was to bake each time Tony was gone. However, the first time I had an all day meeting of my own, and a family event on the second. Tony is headed back to the area today, but I had several things going on that would keep me from baking during the day.  So I changed my plan and baked a batch last night.

There are very specific requirements you have to follow. The cookies need to be about 2-1/2 inches in diameter and not more than 1/2 inch thick. They cannot have any type of fruit (like raisins), nuts, icing, sugar sprinkles, or any other type of coating on the outside. They have to be packed in a quart sized Zip-Lock bag, with one dozen cookies per bag, and be labeled with the cookie type inside.

Tony told me he had heard through the grapevine that there are always more than enough chocolate chip cookies, so I decided to make something else. He had give me a handout with several recommended recipes. I chose their version of sugar cookies, and after Rhonda of If you do stuff, stuff gets done posted about adding pumpkin pie spice to some cookies she baked I decided to follow suit.  (I think just about everyone is on the pumpkin spice bandwagon at this time of year.)

When I was done there were seven dozen cookies bagged and ready to go in the freezer.  That's a drop in the bucket for what Tony's supposed to provide, but there are two more formation meetings before the retreat actually happens. And, I don't have to do all of them myself. When they put the word out in the church bulletin a lot of people contribute.

Five years ago today: Apple Pear

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Middle Of The Month

One of the clues in today's crossword puzzle was "Mid-month date". Thanks to William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar I guessed that the answer was Ides (because of the events of the Ides of March). But the clue got me thinking....I didn't know that there was more than one Ides.  Wanting to know more, I turned to, where I learned about the Calends, Nones, and Ides:
  • The Calends (Kalendae) were the first days of each month. The name is derived from the Greek word meaning to announce. It may have been used to “announce” the day of the New Moon, or the first sliver of the Waxing Crescent Moon.
  • The Ides (Idus) occurred one day before the middle of each month. Depending on the month's length, it fell on the 13th or 15th day. In the lunar calendar, the Ides marked the day of the Full Moon.
  • The Nones (Nonae) fell on the 7th day of 31-day months and on the 5th day of 29-day months, marking the day of the First Quarter Moon.
The whole system sounded confusing to me. I wonder if an ancient Roman were to be transplanted to today if our system of dates would be as baffling to her.

Five years ago today: Thanks For The Information

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Better Than An Exterminator

We get the occasional flying or creeping bug in the house, but they don't last long. Bug Catcher Jackson is always on the prowl for extra protein.

He finds any insect or arachnid incredibly fascinating, especially if they fly or jump around. He follows them around, hunts them down, and then usually eats them.  Now that he's 16 years old he doesn't move as fast as he used to, but as soon as a bug gets near to him they'd better watch out!

Relaxing...and strategizing
Five years ago today: May We Always Remember

Sunday, September 9, 2018

In Lieu Of

LouFest is a big music festival that's been happening in our area every fall since 2010. This year it was scheduled to take place on September 8 and 9. However, just a couple of days ago the event was cancelled. There was some finger pointing back and forth between the organizers and other entities, but in the end the reasons why it wasn't going to happen didn't really matter.

After the cancellation, several of the participants and vendors made their own events. The Wolf, a restaurant and coffee shop near our house organized a "Lieu-Fest" for today. Even though Hubby Tony and I hadn't planned on going to the festival, we decided the alternate event would be a good way to support the artists and vendors that were left in the lurch.

The Wolf
We arrived shortly after the doors opened. There was already music playing (on vinyl albums!) from some of the bands who had been scheduled to appear at the festival. Our plan was to eat dinner there, but since it was a bit early for food we ordered something to drink and found a seat.The restaurant normally closes at 2 pm on Sunday, so we knew that everyone who came in was there to support the cause.

We were there for a couple of hours. In that time no vendors showed up, but the restaurant kitchen had put together a great menu of  'festival food'--appetizers, tacos, brats, and sliders, along with fries, chips, and a cold vegetable salad. We ordered several dishes and shared them half and half. After we ate we sat around for a while and listened to more music before we decided it was time for us to go.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Secret Ingredient Is.....

This morning I got ready to make some baked beans to take to a pot luck event and discovered I was out of both ketchup and BBQ sauce. However, I remembered that a while back the Asian market was running a sale on something called "Banana Sauce". Wikipedia had told me that "Banana ketchup or banana sauce is a popular Philippine fruit ketchup condiment made from mashed banana, sugar, vinegar, and spices".  Being a sucker for new food products, I decided to give it a try, but since we don't use a lot of ketchup around here the bottle was still unopened.  I wondered how the sauce would work in my dish.
As it turns out, it worked just fine.

Banana sauce is sweeter and spicier than conventional ketchup, so I was able to omit some of the ingredients I would usually use in baked beans. To make the dish I used three types of beans (Great Northern, pinto, and black, all cooked from dry and stored in the freezer). I chopped a half of onion, half of a green pepper, and several cloves of garlic, then sauteed the vegetables and dumped them to a large bowl along with the drained beans. Next I added back the Great Northern liquid, plenty of banana sauce, and some salt and pepper, then baked it at 325 degrees for 90 minutes.

At the end of the afternoon there were only a couple of spoonfuls of beans left in the bowl, so I wasn't the only one who enjoyed the dish. Now there's a half bottle of banana sauce in the refrigerator, and next weekend I have another potluck luncheon to go to. There will be no overlapping of attendees, so no one would know if I repeated the dish.  Sounds like a plan to me!

Five years ago today: Choose Me!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Wow! Day

I'm fortunate that I get to set my own schedule, and I usually don't cram too much into any one day. However, the past two days have been a crazy busy. I had two ambitious jobs to do-between commuting, performing, and reporting each took about five hours. And then of course there were all of the normal activities that had to get done. (Laundry! Meals! Yard work!) And to top it off I had a meeting both nights after dinner.

When I went to bed last night I still had some paperwork that needed to be finished and turned in. A half hour before the alarm went off I woke up, then tossed and turned for ten minutes before deciding to get up and start my day. Fortunately the paperwork didn't take as long as I thought it would, and after wading though dozens of emails I was free!

I felt like a huge boulder had been lifted from my shoulders, because now I could do anything I wanted to. I went to the gym,  came home and took a nice long shower, then put on knock around clothes. Instead of using my blow dryer to try to beat my cowlicks into submission I let my hair dry naturally. I wasn't planning on going anywhere, so no one would see what I looked like.

All afternoon in between catching up on blogs and other fun computer stuff I cooked, baked, and cooked some more. All stuff I wanted to do. I drank my afternoon coffee slowly, and took as much time as I wanted on the newspaper puzzle page and didn't feel guilty about it. I cleaned up the messes I made today as well as the ones that had been there for a while.

All too soon the day was at an end and my free time was over. Tomorrow is like most days--full of activities and commitments. You can bet I'll be on the lookout for another clear one.

Five years ago today: If You're So Inclined...

Monday, September 3, 2018

Emoji Fun

From a friend of mine. Can you pick the set of emojis that matches each Broadway song? Scroll down to see the answers.

  2.  The Next Ten Minutes
15.  The Music of the Night
11.  Footloose
  5.  Seasons of Love
  6.  Heaven on Their Minds
  7.  On the Street Where You Live
  9.  My Favorite Things
  4.  A House is Not a Home
  8.  Do You Hear the People Sing?
10.  I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair
13.  Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm
  3.  You Can't Stop the Beat
  1.  If I Were a Rich Man
14.  Ol' Man River
12.  And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going

Five years ago today: The Bowels Of The Mall

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Downtown Fun

Last night Hubby Tony and I went to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.  It was a great time; the Cards beat up on the Cincinnati Reds, winning 12-5.  Tony had purchased tickets that included Cards Cash, which meant that we each had ten dollars loaded onto the ticket to spend in the stadium.  Instead of packing all of our game snacks  like we usually do, we got some things from the concession stand.

We left the house right after Tony got home from work.  There wasn't much traffic on the road, and we got downtown two hours before the first pitch. After eating dinner, we still had an hour to kill. We decided to walk over to the Gateway Arch and see what was new there.


There's a lot. Back in 1967 when the Gateway Arch opened, it was removed from the rest of the downtown area. To get there you had to use one of several surface streets that went over the depressed lanes of Interstate. (See on the left side of the photo-the highway is running north to south on the left, and there are four ways to get over it to easily get to the Arch grounds):

Built St Louis
As long as I can remember different solutions to the problem were floating around. The area eventually passed a tax increase, formed a public-private partnership and got to work on updates. Four years ago the area became a construction zone. The visitor center closed two years after that.

Now there's a cap over the highway to make it much easier to get to the area. They built a promenade along the Mississippi River on the east side of the park. The visitor center has been expanded and updated.  It used to be completely under the monument, and you entered it through doors under the Arch legs. Now those doors are for exits only. The much larger entrance is now to the west of the monument.

Gateway Arch National Park new entrance
The new visitor center has been open for a little over a month, but last night all we had time to do is walk by it. Going inside will have to wait for another trip.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Chain Of Foods

Saturday night Hubby Tony and I had carry out Chinese for dinner. He brought home Hot and Sour Soup (accompanied by fried won ton strips), Chicken with Chinese Vegetables, Broccoli with Garlic Sauce, a container of white rice, and three fortune cookies. We ate about 2/3 of everything except for the rice, which we barely made a dent in.

Sunday is Tony's night to put dinner together.  He knew he was going to start with the previous night's leftovers, and add something else to make a whole meal. When I bought home baby bok choy and Japanese eggplant from the Asian market he decided to incorporate the latter ingredient.  He cut the eggplant into cubes and baked it, then added half to the combined carry out leftovers. Next he mixed in a little leftover brown rice and some restaurant white rice and heated everything up in the microwave. When it was done Tony ladled the dish into large bowls and put them on the table, along with packets of hot mustard and sweet and sour sauce.  The tasty dish was a cross between a thick soup and a juicy stew, and it was delicious.  As he was cleaning up Tony put the rest of the eggplant into the refrigerator.

Monday's dinner was a stir fry with the rest of the eggplant, half of the boy choy, half of a container of white beans from the freezer, onion and garlic, and some fresh basil leaves. It had a sauce made from rice vinegar, oyster sauce, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, and sesame oil.  The dish was served over leftover white rice (which almost, but not quite, used up the container).

Today I used up the remainder of the bok choy and white beans by adding them to a curry sauce, along with sweet potato, onion, garlic, and a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter.  Since there wasn't much Chinese white rice left I made brown rice in the Instant Pot and used some of that, too. The end dish was runny enough to serve in bowls.

Now, after three days of imaginatively using leftovers and ingredients, it's all gone.The refrigerator is looking a little empty, and my creativity has come to a screeching halt. I have no idea what tomorrow's dinner will be, but based on past experience something will come to me. 

Five years ago today: The Cats Weren't Too Wild About The Idea...