Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Great Pacific Northwest Adventure of 2017

For the past four years our niece Michelle has gone to college in Olympia, Washington (just a couple of hours from Seattle).  Last Christmas she reminded Hubby Tony and me that she would be graduating this June, and extended an invitation to attend the ceremony.

Tony and I talked about it, decided it would be a good idea, and at the end of January booked our flight.  Since the tickets to Seattle were a little pricey we started talking about other activities we could do while we were in the area.  Soon a plan began to take shape......

Five years ago today: Save Some Time To Dream

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Virtual Crayons

Some time back I decided I needed an adult coloring book app for my iPad. There were almost a dozen in the App store, so I randomly chose one (appropriately) called Adult Coloring Book to download. I'm sure all the other options are equally fun, but I'm happy with my choice.

Several nights a week I open up the app when I'm zoning out in front of the TV.  There are multiple books to choose from, and also a special Daily Design. The app is easy to use. You pick a color and then tap the shape to fill it in. There's an undo button if you don't like the results.  Another handy option is the ability to zoom in, which makes filling in very small shapes easy.

When the picture is finished you can add a texture or a frame.  There's an option to share your creation via text or email, and a gallery where you can see how other artists have colored their pictures.  The app itself is free, and comes with a set of what they call 'Essential Colors'. You can subscribe to unlimited access to all the books and the color palettes, but I didn't bother.  Every once in a while I'll open up the app and be surprised that they've thrown an additional set of  colors my way.

One of my latest masterpieces
Five years ago today: Hot In Herre

Friday, June 16, 2017

Frog Fear

The other day I was moving around the potted plants that summer on the deck.  The large container of ginger sits on plastic feet, which raise it about a half inch off the ground.  When I picked up the pot this guy was underneath:

The frog looked at me.  I looked at him, then I pulled out my camera.  He posed nicely while I took his portrait. The photo is deceptive; this little guy was only about an inch long.  I went on about my moving plants business and the next time I looked he was gone.

After I finished my work I came inside and posted the photo on Facebook.  One of my friends made a comment that if she had seen the frog she would have "freaked and dropped the pot, because (even though she doesn't mind snakes, spiders or bugs ) she was petrified of frogs".  I'd never heard of frog phobia, but I  know there's a name for everything.  It only took a couple of seconds for Google to tell me that a fear of frogs and toads is ranidaphobia.

Now we all know.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thanks For The Help, But I'm Good

I decided not to plant a garden this year, but when I was buying my annuals one grape tomato plant jumped into the basket. I came home and put the small plant in a five-gallon bucket.  Now that the weather has heated up it's been growing nicely, and has a dozen small green fruits and many more flowers.

Originally I thought the plant was going to be a bush variety, but yesterday I noticed it was getting tall and gangly, which means it's an indeterminate type that will keep growing taller all season. I staked the stems, and briefly thought about removing the highest growing tips so the plant would bush out, but I was short on time.  This morning I noticed 'something' had done the topping for me!

Those stems used to be a lot longer

The damage was over three feet off the ground, but based on the nice clean cuts I suspected a rabbit. This isn't the first time Bugs has noshed on our plants, so I was ready. I pulled out a spray bottle of a natural garden pest control, which contains a lovely combination of putrescent egg solids, castor, garlic, and fish oils, and urea.  The mixture stinks to high heaven but does the trick.

I sprayed the mixture heavily to the leaves and stems. The smell will be undetectable to a human nose after several house, but the spray has an ingredient that allows it to stick to the plant surfaces.  That means that going forward, even if the smell doesn't deter the critter the taste will.

Five years ago today: Size Me Up!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Six-Tea Day

June 11 is always a big day for Hubby Tony, but this year it was extra special; the clock rolled over into a new decade for him.  When we woke up I asked Tony how he felt.  His reply was "At least a day older."

Two organizations that Tony belongs to both scheduled breakfast at the nearby American Legion post after Mass today.  Before we left church a 'little bird' told one of Tony's friends that it was his birthday.   During breakfast that person announced it to the entire room, who sang Happy Birthday to him. Then, for the next 45 minutes people took the opportunity to wish him a good day.

For a present I bought Tony tickets to a St. Louis Symphony concert entitled "Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the Ladies of Swing".  The event started at 3:00, so after we fed the cats we got in the car and drove to Powell Hall.  We followed the stream of people into the beautiful hall and took our seats.  The concert was wonderful!  I think I enjoyed it as much or more than Tony did.

Earlier in the week I had told Tony to pick a restaurant to go to for dinner.  It looked like he had a great time researching options and finally making a choice.  After the concert we drove in that direction, got lost, then pulled up the information on Google and discovered the restaurant was closed on Sunday anyway.

We ended up at an Ethiopian restaurant in Grand Center, where we shared an appetizer of sambosas and  a vegetarian combo plate.  At the end of the meal, when the waitress came by and heard it was Tony's birthday, she announced, "We celebrate".  Several minutes later she returned carrying a piece of baklava drizzled with chocolate sauce, holding a single lit candle. When she reached the table she put the plate in front of Tony and we sang in his honor.

Tony's "card"

Five years ago today: Comments, Please

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Am I Blue?

The internet is filled with diversions. Today it told me What Is The True Color Of Your Personality?

Like every web-based  test I've taken this one had several 'pick which you like the best' questions.  After I told them everything they wanted to know, the answer came back that I belonged to the Blue color family.

Their explanation:
The color psychology quiz tells us that like those blue colors that you subconsciously most relate to, you're deep, comforting, emotional and naturally intuitive. You've always had a sixth sense or gut feeling that never leads you astray. Rely on your intuition; it will never fail you! But, you probably already know that. Others may perceive you as overly emotional, and you may even have a reputation for being a bit sensitive or touchy, but you actually just have an incredibly high emotional intelligence. You can be a bit melancholy at times, and you need time and space to recharge your emotional energies.
Were they right in their assessment?  I'd give them a 50%.  However, I really liked the photo that accompanied it!

Five years ago today: The Sights And Sounds of Nature

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Walking Is Just Slow Running, Right?

I learned from Shirley that today was Global Running Day.  The holiday was new to me, but according to the Global Running Day website, it is "a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running."  To participate, all you had to do is take part in some type of running activity.  Shirley changed up the requirements by substituting a nice brisk walk.  Reading her post, I realized that based on her standards I had celebrated too.

Today I had some jobs that took me to the Central West End, a beautiful old neighborhood that has a nice mix of restaurants, retail, and stately mansions dating back to the early 1900s. After I parked my car (at the parking garage of a historic hotel) I walked down the street, people watching and admiring the elegant clothes featured in the boutique windows I passed. The weather was beautiful--in the high 70s, with a sunny sky and low humidity.

In one of the stores I stopped to try on the most beautiful shirt I had ever seen.  It was pale striped rayon crepe with a high-low hem which hit me at just the right place in the front and the back.  The front had a half placket with delicate-looking buttons.  The back was gathered at the bottom of the yoke and draped just right.  The long sleeves were just right for rolling up or leaving down. The only downside was the cost...the shirt was definitely selling for a designer boutique price.  More than I've ever spent for an item of everyday clothing.

Of course the sales associate told me the shirt looked fantastic on me, and went out of her way to highlight all the ways I could wear it.  It could be dressy!  It could be casual!  It would look great with a tank under it when the weather got cool!  She threw so many suggestions at me that they started to make sense, and I decided to throw my budget to the wind and buy the shirt.  The sales associate followed me to the cash register, where she rung up my purchase, wrapped it in tissue paper secured with a fancy sticker, and placed it in a tote bag.  On my way out the door she said she was confident I would love the shirt.

As soon as I left the store I started regretting my purchase.   I spent twenty minutes walking up and down the tree-lined streets pondering what I should do.  On the one hand, the shirt was very versatile.  But did I really want to be seen wearing the same thing at every event?  For the money I had spent I could buy three or four nice non-designer shirts.  Eventually I took the shirt out of the bag to see it again, then lifted up the bottom hem to look at the care label (something I had neglected to do in the store) and learned that this shirt was Dry Clean Only. 

That sealed my decision.  I backtracked to the store, and told the sales associate I didn't want to be 'that woman' but I would be returning the purchase I had just made.  She was nice enough to say she understood, but I still felt bad.  The only positive on my end was the almost 7,500 steps I got.

Five years ago today: Funnies

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Old Shoe, New Shoe

Two summers ago I found a pair of New Balance flip flops at a discount shoe store. They had the best arch support of any summer shoes I've ever worn, and I slid them on whenever the weather was warm enough to go sockless.

This spring I noticed that the flip flops weren't as comfortable as they used to be. When I took a good look at them, I realized that the soles had deep foot indentations and the outside edges of the heels were showing a lot of wear.  It was time to find another pair.

I browsed at all the big box shoe stores around my house looked for  pair of comfortable flip flops or sandals, but couldn't find anything just right.  Last Friday I found myself within five miles of a dedicated New Balance store.  It was worth a slight detour to see if they had what I was looking for.

I walked into the store, briefly pursued their selection of warm-weather shoes, and selected a Renew Thong to try on.  Except for a couple of cosmetic differences they looked just like the ones I was replacing. The clerk brought out my size, along with a pair of sanitary socks.  I tried them on (a little difficult, because the socks didn't have a toe split), and ten minutes later I left the store with my new summer house shoes.

When I opened up the box at home I noticed a tag hanging from the right shoe strap that touted all the benefits of this style-good arch support, a flexible forefoot, heel cup, and gender specific foot bed.  The tag also said that since the foot bed fit like an orthotic there should be a break-in period. (It suggested two hours the first day, and then 1-2 additional hours each day.)  I figured that since I was used to the shoe I could ignore their suggestion.

I thought wrong.

I had greatly underestimated just how much the old pair had lost their support. At the end of two hours the both the ball and arch of my feet ached and I couldn't wait to take the new shoes off. But the instructions were spot on. Yesterday I wore the shoes all morning. Today the only time I took them off was when I put on shoes to go for a walk.  They were that comfortable

Based on my past experience, I'm looking forward to a long period of happy feet.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Good Concept, Bad Execution

I think that AMBER Alerts (the name is officially a acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) are a good thing. They allow authorities to quickly get the word out about child abductions. However, the methods for getting that word out could use a little tweaking.

The alerts are distributed through radio stations, TV stations, and some social media websites.  At the beginning of  2013, they also started being sent to cell phone users that have the capability of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts.  It's still all good, but the chosen alert method for cell phones is an extremely loud and blaring alarm.  It doesn't matter if you have the phone on Silent or Do Not Disturb; the sound still comes through.  The first time I heard it I was terrified.

In my area an AMBER alert is only issued once every few months.  The latest one happened in the middle of the night Tuesday, during the 2:00 hour. My phone was downstairs in the kitchen. The loud, piercing sound traveled down the hall, up the stairs, across another hall, and into the bedroom. I woke up in a panic when I heard it, but when I realized what it was I rolled over and went back to sleep. (The next morning I found out the alert had been issued for a possible abduction about a hundred miles to the southwest from my house. Fortunately, the girl was quickly found.)

In the past I've tried poking around on my phone to find a way to lower the alert volume, but I didn't have any luck. This time I decided to research the issue.  Sadly, I found out the alerts are all or nothing.  The only option is to disable the alert. 

After thinking about it for a while I decided that when future alerts are issued I'll hear about them through other channels, and turned off the AMBER alerts on my iPhone.  The process was simple.
  • Open Settings, then click on Notifications
  • Scroll all the way to the bottom to the Government Alerts section
  • Toggle the switch for AMBER Alerts OFF
I hope that sometime in the future they'll update the notification settings to make the alerts less strident.  If they did I would gladly turn them back on.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In The Summertime

Monday was Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer.  If this song doesn't scream "carefree summer relaxation" I don't know what does:

The song is the biggest hit for Mungo Jerry, a British rock group. (Fun fact-their name was inspired by the poem "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer", from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, more than a decade before Andrew Lloyd Webber turned the same poem into a song in his musical Cats.)

Five years ago today: If You Don't Know Me By Now

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Walk of Trust

Before 2014 very few people outside of our metropolitan area had ever heard of Ferguson, Missouri. Then Michael Brown was shot and that changed forever.

Although since that time there have been commissions studying the issues and a Department of Justice investigation, things are not completely settled.  Robert Carlson, the Archbishop of St. Louis, had the idea to invite members of the Taizé Community (an ecumenical monastic order in France) to help plan a weekend long Pilgrimage of Trust. As part of the pilgrimage they sponsored a Walk of Trust for people of all faiths and backgrounds this afternoon.  Hubby Tony and I were there.  It was an awesome experience. 

According to the event's website:
The Walk of Trust is an important display of the unity and solidarity we need to begin healing the many divisions present in our community.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, where we started, was the second stop on the walk.  Right as the church bells were ringing at 2:00 the people gathered outside started walking.  The group moved slowly but steadily around the neighborhood, picking up more walkers at the Second Presbyterian Church and the Galilee Baptist Church. It stopped at the Daughters of Charity Province Office for prayer and song, then continued on to the West Pine Mosque and the Clock Tower on the St. Louis University campus (where we stopped for more prayer and song).  Next we walked towards the school's Chaifetz Arena, where we gathered for more prayer before heading inside.

Several hundred people filtered into the arena for a prayer service.  There were short homilies by Archbishop Carlson and the Reverend Traci Blackmon, a member of the Ferguson Commission.  After more prayer, meditation, and song, the walk officially ended.

I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.  It was great to talk with people from all different parts of the metropolitan area, and several from other states (and even Canada!) who had come specifically for the Pilgrimage. I learned something from each and every one of them.

Five years ago today: Memorial

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trash Can Composter

In the summer of 2011 I installed a new compost bin in the back yard. The recycled black plastic bin had a removable lid and a sliding door at the bottom to remove the finished compost.  It worked great for a while, but last year the weight of the material inside the plastic bin warped the runners and one side of the door came off and hung awkwardly.  I tried to fix it a couple of times, but didn't have any luck.  I decided that this spring it was time to start over with a new bin.

The last few weeks I've searched the websites of Amazon, some local specialty retailers, and all the hardware stores in our area looking for something that was sturdy, durable, and less than $100.  Much to my surprise, even the ones that cost close to the maximum price only got fair reviews.  I did not want to spend that kind of money to have something that wouldn't last!

Son Donald is only going to be home for one more week before he goes back to college for summer session classes  I was counting on him to help me with the manual labor of emptying the old bin and filling the new one, so time was of the essence.  This morning I had an inspiration.  Would a trash can work?  A quick Google search revealed that yes, it would indeed.

On the way home from the gym I stopped at a big box hardware store and bought the cheapest black plastic trash can they had. Using the directions for a Trash Can Composter I found on the Whole Foods blog, I measured out where I wanted to put the air holes (marking them with dabs of bright pink fingernail polish), then put a spade bit on the drill and bored out all the holes.  I also drilled a hole in the lid and attached it to the can's handle with a piece of rope so it wouldn't blow away.

Donald had emptied the old bin and had the site all ready to go when I was done.  I set the holey trash can in place and used a level to make sure it was straight, then put a landscaping brick in the bottom of the can so the critters couldn't tip it over. We used a shovel and a pitchfork to fill the new bin with partially decomposed food and garden scraps. 

The purpose of compost, of course, is to help amend garden soil, so while we were at it we also dumped several wheelbarrows full of finished compost on a perennial bed and spread it around.

The finished product
Five years ago today: What A Rebel!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NOBODY Will Be Getting That Data

Several months ago my very geriatric laptop (a Christmas present back in 2010) stopped working.  When I turned it on I could hear the computer start, but the screen remained black.  At its age I decided it wasn't worth trying to repair it. 

I rarely saved files on the laptop (preferring to network to the desktop computer in the kitchen, so everything was in one place). To the best of my recollection all that was the dead unit were a few clip arts. However, on the off chance I was wrong I didn't want to just recycle the computer as it was, and decided to remove and destroy the hard drive.

 I asked Son Donald if he knew anything about the insides of laptops. He didn't, but was happy to take on the job of researching and completing the removal project. It took him 15 minutes, and at the end of it he handed me the small rectangular hard drive.  While I was trying to figure out what the next step should be I set the hard drive on the kitchen island. After a couple of days it got buried by some papers. Today I moved those papers and saw the hard drive anew and decided it would be a good day to finish the project. 

The WikiHow article How to Destroy a Hard Drive was a fun combination of practical (how to wipe the data) and witty (shooting the drive at a firing range) information. I wanted a fast and easy approach, so I choose the article's second method, which was Hammering the Hard Drive.

I took the drive and a hammer outside to the back patio, then started pounding vigorously on the cover.  After several blows Donald, who had come out with me, decided he wanted to get involved, too.  I watched him have fun banging on the drive until the cover separated into two pieces.  He removed the magnet and gave the shiny platter a couple more whacks until it was completely shattered into small pieces. 

The final step of the project was to clean up all the tiny shards that had flown to all corners of the patio and throw them away, knowing that my information was safe. 

Five years ago today: Have Helmet Will Travel

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Waterless WC

This morning when Hubby Tony and I rolled out of bed it was sunny and almost 60 degrees...a beautiful day for outdoor activities.  He suggested a walk, but when I reminded him we hadn't been on a bike ride yet this year he quickly agreed.  After breakfast we loaded the bikes into the car and headed towards Grant's Trail. I like riding there, because as a former railroad right of way it's nice and flat.  When we reached the trailhead parking lot we got the bikes ready to ride.  But before I started I decided I needed to use the rest room.

It's been several years since we've been on that section of the trail.  My recollection was that the restroom was actually a port-a-potty, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was now a real building with separate Men's and Women's sides.  When I entered the single stall room the first thing I notices was the interesting-looking lavatory.  The sign on the wall told me it was a composting toilet.

According to Wikipedia, a composting toilet is a type of waterless system that uses a predominantly aerobic process to treat human excreta by composting. As befitting a waterless system this toilet had no water tank.  Instead, the seat with attached lid was placed directly on top of a large tank. A sign on the wall told me not to put bottles, cans, trash, cigarettes, cigars, or matches in the toilet, and to close the lid when I was done.

A small plastic trash can filled with wood shavings was attached to the wall next to the toilet.  There was a scoop attached to the can with a long cord.  No instructions were included, but I knew from my experience with composting that in order to keep a pile from smelling you need the right ratio of "greens" (fresh nitrogen-rich materials) and "browns" (dry or woody carbon-rich materials).  So when I was done I added a large scoop of shavings to the toilet before I closed the lid.

Five years ago today: Time To Eat! Now!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In Any Language, It's Still Dinner

Last week Son Donald finished his college semester. Over the weekend he came home with a car full of clothes, bedding, and books.

Tonight we had our traditional end of studies family celebration dinner.  Hubby Tony brought home carry out Chinese from a restaurant close to his office.  The food was good and plentiful. It wasn't until I was cleaning off the table that I noticed the slip of paper that was in the bag.  As much Chinese food as I've had over the years, it's never come with a bi-lingual receipt.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Wide Spectrum of Mothering

My niece posted this on her Facebook page. I thought it was powerful enough to share.
The Wide Spectrum of Mothering

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year–we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stain–we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment—we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms–we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children–we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children–we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year–we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother–we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood–we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children–we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and moth ering your own children–we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who stepparent–we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be–we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year–we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption–we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising–we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
By Amy Young
Five years ago today: Strawberries In Tuxedos

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Solitude and Silence

Monday morning before I woke up Hubby Tony left for a week-long work training class. It's been strange without him here, but I've been taking advantage of the strangeness.

Tony usually wakes up an hour or so before me and takes care of the cat's morning meal.  While he's gone I'm in charge (and the cats still expect to be fed at the same time), but I've figured out how to do the job and go back to sleep until the alarm goes off.  Each day I've left the house to run errands or go to the gym, but I've also taken advantage of the extra time to get some work done.  Right now I'm in the middle of a phone call project.  Each call (including preparation, the call itself, and documenting what was said) takes about an hour.  Usually one call a day is all I can fit in, but because my personal interaction obligations are minimal I've been completing two. 

Instead of stopping to fix dinner I can eat what I want, when I want to, where ever I want to. Monday night I bought a deli sandwich from the grocery store, brought it home, and ate it while I surfed the web. Tuesday I made a two-serving casserole, ate half of it while checking Facebook, and saved the rest for Wednesday.   Tonight I repeated the process with a soup and computer mahjong.

There is much less coffee being made and consumed each day.  With only one person in the house there has been minimal laundry to do and the few dirty dishes I make are easy to hand wash.  At night I get to decide what I'll watch on TV and what time I'll go to bed.  During the night I can stretch out into Tony's part of the bed (as long as I don't disturb Pepper the Cat, who always sleeps on that side).

Tony will get home tomorrow evening and things will go back to normal.   As much as I've enjoyed the 'me' time I can't wait.

Five years ago today: Wake Up Call?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Unexpected Art

A couple of weeks ago I had my twice-yearly dental checkup and cleaning. During the x-ray process the hygienist discovered I had a small cavity in one of my teeth and scheduled an appointment to fill it. That appointment was today.

I always have the same hygienist for my cleaning appointments. His room is the first one you come upon when you go back into the office area.  Today, though, I was led to a different room by a different hygienist.  After I got settled in the chair she clipped a bib around my neck.  The procedure started with the application of a numbing gel to the area so I wouldn't feel the local anesthesia needle.

The hygienist left the room until the numbing gel was fully effective.  While I was waiting I looked around the room.  My dentist is an avid photographer who also travels extensively. The office is filled with his large prints of exotic locations and animals.Recently he's also installed large TVs in the examination rooms, which show slide shows of his work mixed in with stock dental slides. 

It wasn't until I looked straight overhead that I noticed another photo. This one, attached to the ceiling right over the chair, was of two hummingbirds at a feeder.  Looking at that print was a great diversion while the dentist was drilling away.

Five years ago today: Skip The Elevator-Take The Stairs

Monday, May 8, 2017

Lubed Lips Lamentation

Over the weekend I attended the twice-yearly state business meeting of a group I belong to. Friday afternoon I rode with some friends halfway across the state to the Lake of the Ozarks. The meeting started Saturday morning and ended (with breaks for lunch and dinner) ten hours later. On Sunday there were four more hours of business before we adjourned until the fall.

This is my seventh year attending these meetings.  The tables we sit at are cramped.  It's an inconvenience having my purse with me, so I've developed a system for carrying my essential things.  I put all the manuals and papers I need in a tote bag, which goes underneath the table at my feet.  In my front left jeans pocket I put my room key and lip balm (because I need for my lips to feel lubricated at all times). My cell phone goes in a back jeans pocket.

Saturday morning before the meeting started I ate breakfast in the hotel's restaurant, then took my purse back to the room. I checked to make sure I had my key in the pocket, then walked down to the conference room where the meeting was held. I was almost there when I realized my lips felt dry, so I reached into the pocket for the lip balm.

It wasn't there.  That was a problem.

I backtracked all the way to my room, thinking the small tube could have fallen out of my pocket along the way. Nothing. And then, because I didn't have access to it, my lips needed lubrication even more.  It was all I could think about. 

I was so desperate that I thought that perhaps putting some of the beeswax hand salve I keep in the zipper pocket of the purse would moisten my lips. When I opened the pocket, guess what I discovered?  The lip balm. 

I must have applied it after breakfast and automatically put it back in the purse.  Life was good.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Floods, Crests, And A New Day

Last weekend, when Hubby Tony and I were in Dallas, our area got a little over five inches of rain.  In the past two days almost three more inches came down.  All the precipitation had to go somewhere.  All the areas that usually flood did, as did areas that normally stay dry.  The weather service called it at 500-year flood, meaning that the chance of a flood of this magnitude occurring in any year is approximately one in 500.  (The same thing happened at the end of 2015, but that's another story.)

Thanks to the Meramec River, the water topped Interstate 44 completely.  Manchester Road, an arterial street I use almost every day, became the detour. It was strange to see the road filled with huge semis, and all the extra vehicles backed traffic up badly.  Southbound Interstate 55 was also briefly closed, as well as many of the major cross streets close to the river.


Usually at the beginning of May I'm washing the winter coats and clothes and putting them away for the year.  However, the past two days I wore my lighter coat when I went out to run errands.  It was so chilly in the house that I finally broke down and turned the furnace back on. 

The rain ended last night after dinner.  This morning when my alarm went off the sun was shining and the birds were chirping. The first thing I did was turn off the furnace and open up a couple of windows.   It felt like the dawn of a new day.

Five years ago today: A Peony For Your Thoughts

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Write It Out

I was recently introduced to The Bureau of Communication  Their website says:
Every day, there are millions of thoughts that go unspoken.  To promote better understanding between the peoples of the world, the Bureau of Communication is pleased to present a selection of fill-in-the-blank stationary for everyday correspondence.  Whether you need to communicate a problem, send an invitation to an event, or simply apologize for a transgression, our easy-to-use forms will ensure that your message is clearly conveyed.
All of the Bureau's humorous forms can be filled in online and emailed or shared on Facebook.  The site's home page has links to eight different forms  (Declaration of Romantic Intent, Unsolicited Feedback, Observance of Holiday, Airing of Grievance, Formal Apology, Statement of Gratitude, Official Invitation, and Acknowledgement of Occasion).  Clicking through on one of those will take you to a second screen that has a dozen more (Apology, Forgiveness, Thank You, Invitation, Love Letters, Complaint, Feedback, Marriage, Will and Testament, Gift Giving, Bad News, and Non-Disclosure Agreement).  When you've finalized a form you can mark it with one of several stamps to make it extra-special.

Tonight I completed a Gratitude form. Filling in the blanks was a bit like doing a Mad Lib when you knew ahead of time what sentiment you wanted to express.  After the form was finished I sent it to a friend.  I don't think the email would ever take the place of a personal communication, but it's a fun and interesting addition, which might start a nice conversation.

Five years ago today: Out With The Cold

Monday, May 1, 2017

D Is For Dallas

A decade ago I rarely traveled anywhere. Now I have children scattered across the country, and much of my vacation  time revolve around visiting them.

Hubby Tony and I just returned from a weekend trip to Dallas, which is where Son Tony and his friend Ie moved last fall.  We left Friday after breakfast and got back Sunday right before bedtime.  In a little over 48 hours we fit a lot in.

We ate...fried chicken, farm-to-table food, barbecue, breakfast, and Thai.

Texas-size BBQ meat for four
We explored...the West End Historic District neighborhood around Tony and Ie's apartment, other parts of downtown, and the Uptown area where they just bought a condo.

We got our culture at the Sixth Floor Museum, dedicated to the life, times, and legacy of  President John F. Kennedy and at an event at a movie theater hosted by two of the past cast members of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 show.

All too soon it was time for Tony and Ie to take us back to the airport.  It was a great visit, and I look forward to many more.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Navy Blue And Black Kind Of Day

When the alarm went off this morning it was perfect going-back-to sleep gloomy.  I grumbled and got up anyway, because I had a full To Do list of things that needed to get done around the house. The forecast called for rain and falling temperatures, so after my shower I put on jeans and a casual tee shirt. However, after an hour I realized the temps hadn't fallen yet and it was hot in the house.  I went upstairs and swapped the jeans out for a pair of shorts.

At this time of year I'm used to changing clothes multiple times a day, and there's always a collection of barely-worn items in the closet that can be used a second time. Today that collection included a pair of black shorts. As I was putting them on I realized that I was wearing a navy shirt, which any good fashionista would say clashes with black. I decided didn't care, because it was no one around to judge.

As the day unfolded I made some work phone calls and recorded the responses.  I swapped out the warm weather bedding and accessories, then washed all the linens and put everything away until the fall.  I watered the houseplants and dusted up the oak pollen before I put them back in their spots. I cooked, ate, and cleaned up lunch, and later did the same thing with dinner.  The only time I left the house was to get the mail, but since it was raining there was no one to see me.

All day long I had the kitchen window open, and as the day wore on the breeze coming in got cooler and cooler. By the time I headed out to an evening meeting it was cool enough to put my jeans back on. I kept the tee, though, because denim goes with everything

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Friend The Frog

Do you remember all the frog sightings I had last year? (Here, here, and here if you don't and want to get caught up.)  This morning I took off the lid to the compost bin and saw two blobby looking things on the top rim.  Under closer observation, I realized that our frog was back and had brought a friend!

Please ignore the dirt and spider webs. See the frogs?
The morning was brisk, and the frogs weren't moving too fast.  In fact, except for their slowly opening and closing eyelids I almost thought they were dead.  But when I pulled out my cell phone to take a photo they slowly turned towards me.  Probably to make sure I wasn't going to harm them, but maybe they wanted to show me their best side?

For the past few weeks I've seen a lot of fruit flies buzzing through the decaying plant matter.  I'm sure they provide lots of good eating for small amphibians.  I'm thrilled to have the tiny critters take up residence, but I wonder how long it will take me to remember there might be something alive waiting for me every time I open the lid now?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mid-Spring Thoughts

For The Garden of Your Daily Living

Plant Three Rows of Peas:
--Peace of Mind
--Peace of Heart
--Peace of Soul

Plant Four Rows of Squash:
--Squash gossip
--Squash indifference
--Squash grumbling
--Squash selfishness 

Plant Four Rows of Lettuce:
--Lettuce be faithful
--Lettuce be kind
--Lettuce be patient
--Lettuce really love one another 

Plant 3 Rows of Turnips:
--Turnip for meetings
 --Turnip for service
--Turnip to help one another

Finally, Your Garden Must Have Thyme:
--Thyme for each other
--Thyme for family
--Thyme for friends
--Thyme for prayer 

Water Freely With Patience and Cultivate With LOVE.
There should be much fruit in your garden,
for after all, We reap what we sow.


Five years ago today: Who's The Parent?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Aves Aperture (Part 2)

Remember the story of our broken air vent?  I was pretty flustered when a bird flew out when I climbed up on a ladder to take a close look at it.

The next day I went to the hardware store and bought the replacement cover suggested by the store clerk.  Sadly, the cover had a slightly different design and wouldn't fit.  The next day I went to more hardware stores and got four additional covers, thinking that surely one of them would work.  Nope.  None of them would lay flush against the siding.

Neither Hubby Tony or I had time that week to wrestle with the project any more, so I asked my Facebook friends for handyman recommendations. I got two, but I also got an offer from someone to come fix the issue in exchange for a batch of homemade cookies.  He recommended that until he could get here we stuff the vent with towels to prevent another critter from getting in.  I went to bed that night with the vent secured.  The next day it looked like this:

Something really wanted to be in there! This time before I climbed up the ladder I waved a broom in front of the hole.  A small wren flew out and over to the nearby redbud tree, watched while I stuffed the towels back into the hole, then flew away.  Twenty minutes later she was back with her posse.  The group of birds perched in the tree, scolded me for five minutes, then left.  After that I checked the vent several times a day, but the towels were never disturbed again.

Several days later the friend showed up and determined that if he filed off a small section of siding one of the covers would fit.  Twenty minutes after he arrived he was done, leaving me to caulk, clean up, and return the covers that we didn't use.  (And he took a rain check on the cookies.)

Five years ago today: Thinking Positively

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy

A while back Eli at Coach Daddy asked if I would like to guest post at his place. It took me about 3.5 seconds to decide that yes, I would.  Today he's showcasing my riff on "Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time".

 Why not click over?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

An Easter Adventure

Since there were just two of us in the house today for Easter Hubby Tony and I decided to go out for brunch.  I hate sitting in crowded restaurants, though.  With a little creativity we came up with an alternate plan.

Before we left the house we loaded the car with the necessary supplies and the dessert I had picked up ahead of time.  We drove to Walgreens and purchased a jug of iced tea.  Next, we stopped by Local Chef Kitchen and ordered food to go.

We headed to a nearby park.  There was no one else there, and we had our pick of tables.  I spread one with a bed sheet tablecloth, then set it with china, cloth napkins, silverware, and glasses.   We removed our food from the carryout containers, plated it, and sat down to eat.

Both Tony's chicken casserole (served with fried potatoes, salad greens, and fresh fruit) and my egg, ham, and cheese sandwich (with fried potatoes and fruit) were wonderful.


After we moved the lunch dishes off to the side I brought out  two Nothing Bundt Cakes bundtlets.  We split both the white chocolate raspberry and the chocolate chocolate chip cakes in two to share.

Five years ago today: Don't Bug Me

Friday, April 14, 2017

Silence Is Golden

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. According to the regulations of the Catholic church this is a day of fasting (which means one full meal during the day, and two small meals or snacks).

I'm a horrible faster.  I know that the purpose of the action is spiritual focus and self-discipline, but by the middle of the day I get weak and give in to my stomach, which insists it needs its normal afternoon snack.  Based on past experience I knew it wouldn't go well, and I wondered if there was anything else I could include in the fasting.  The voice inside my head wondered how hard it would be to have silence for the day.
A little background...the first thing I do when I come into the kitchen in the morning is turn on the radio. It stays on whenever I'm in the house, and the broadcasts follow me out to the car. My first choice is a local community station, but I've been known to switch over to NPR or even an AM station if I need traffic or weather updates.
Today I decided to 'fast' from the background noise.  At first the silence was deafening, but it didn't take me long to get used to it, and then started liking it.  It was warm enough to have the windows open, so as I prepared and ate breakfast I was serenaded by a bird chorus. Later I listened to a neighbor cutting his grass. Every so often I'd hear the sound of a distant train horn.  Right before a rain shower came through things got very quiet and still, and after it passed the birds started chirping again.   I tried to drive with the radio off, but the noises of my old car were distressing. I settled for turning on a mellow music station at a very low volume.

When I returned home from my morning errands the first thing I instinctively did is walk over to the radio, then I remembered my commitment and walked away.  As I was pouring my afternoon cup of coffee my finger automatically hit the radio 'on' button.  After a couple of seconds I turned it off again.

The day had a different rhythm. My main radio station changes its volunteer DJs every couple of hours. I'm used to the flow of the day as each show has a different emphasis. It was interesting to discover just how much I relied on them to keep track of the time.  I was completely surprised when I got a text from Hubby Tony telling me he was on the way home.

When Tony walked in the door I asked him if he noticed anything different.  He did not, but after I told him said the quiet was a nice change of pace.  During dinner Tony and I discuss our days and listen to music. Tonight there was just discussion, which was a nice change of pace.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Aves Aperture

On Sunday I stepped out through the family room door and noticed several large pieces of plastic lying on on the deck. Then I looked up and saw why. The air vent cover was completely broken.   As I continued to examine the vent I saw pieces of dry grass sticking out of the hole:

At the time Hubby Tony and I were on our way out the door and couldn't do anything about the problem.  We returned just as it was getting dark, so it was the next day before I could pull out the ladder and study the broken vent up close.   I climbed up the ladder until the vent was at eye level. Suddenly I heard a rustle from inside and a small bird flew out and straight towards me.  Yikes!  I jumped down and rolled (gracefully, I think) onto the deck.  After I got up I looked around to make sure no one saw me before I went inside.

I'm sure the bird was in a panic.  I know it took  me 20 minutes to settle down.  Then I started thinking about what we had to do to fix the problem.

(To be continued....)

Five years ago today: The Cruise Diaries--Dressing For Dinner

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Raise A Glass

You're probably aware that the musician Chuck Berry passed away on March 18 at the age of 90.

Berry was proud to be from St. Louis.  Even after he became a big star he lived in the metropolitan area.  He mentioned his home town in "Back in the USA" (New York, Los Angeles, oh, how I yearned for you/Detroit, Chicago, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge/Let alone just to be at my home back in ol' St. Lou) and "Sweet Little Sixteen" (They're really rockin' Boston/In Pittsburgh, P. A./Deep in the heart of Texas/And 'round the Frisco Bay/All over St. Louis/And down in New Orleans/All the cats want to dance with/Sweet little sixteen.

Up until 2014 Chuck Berry still performed once a month at the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, an intimate 350-seat venue. I saw him there in 2008.

There will be a public viewing service for Chuck Berry today, followed by a private celebration of life. In addition to those, last night at 10 p.m. everyone in the area was encouraged to raise a glass and toast him.  Hubby Tony and I both had busy days that started early, and by 10 p.m.we were already home. However, that didn't stop us from toasting with glasses of lemonade.

Chuck Berry wrote a lot of great songs.  Here's one of the most well-known:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Single Letter Can Make All The Difference

As you may remember, one of my volunteer tasks is to make slides for events that run on monitors around the church campus.  Over the past three years I've gotten pretty good at it and can put together slides without too much thought.  As I found out tonight, that's not always a good thing.

Two weeks ago I made a slide for an organization's "Bunch for Bunco" fundraising event.  (In case you're unfamiliar with it, Bunco is a mindless dice game) I emailed the finished product to one of the organizers; she replied that it was perfect.  That weekend, and the next one, it was part of a slide show on two of the three screens.  Today I made new slide shows and after dinner went to set them up.  Once the first slide show started running I stood and took a look at it.  AND discovered a problem!

The top of the slide was supposed to say "Bunch for BUNCO Fundraiser. What it actually said was:

That one incorrect letter at the end of the first word made quite a difference.  In two weeks of running, no one had discovered the error.  I came home, fixed everything, and will take the corrected slide shows back up tomorrow.  What do you think are the chances that I can get by one more night without anyone noticing?

Five years ago today: The Cruise Diaries--Fun And Fitness

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cyberspace Blunders and Gaffes

The Internet works great.  Except when it doesn't. I've been on the receiving end of my share of cyberspace blunders and gaffes.  Two recent examples:
Later this month Hubby Tony and I will be visiting Son Tony, who relocated to Dallas last fall.  The downtown apartment he chose doesn't have a spare bedroom, so right after we bought plane tickets we booked a nearby condo through Unnamed Internet-Based Vacation Rental Site. 
    Then Tony called us with exciting news--he and his friend Ie were buying a condo!  The condo is several miles away from where they are living now, far enough that the place we booked no longer made sense.  We decided to cancel it.
    However, that was easier said than done. Even after much searching, I couldn't find a way to do it on the company's website.  I tried calling the Customer Service number, but gave up after being on hold for more than 20 minutes. Next I emailed the company and explained the problem. When I read that it could take 2-3 business days for them to respond I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

    The next day I had a message telling me that the request had to go through the condo's owner.  If they had only stated that plainly on the website I would have started there!  It took several back-and-forths with the condo owner to complete the cancellation.  Finally, four days after I started the process it was completed.
    Three weeks ago I realized I was getting low on the specialty shampoo and conditioner I use to keep my hair and scalp in good shape.  I normally purchase it at a local beauty supply store, but since someone had given me an Amazon gift card I decided to buy it online.  The products cost the same there as they would at the local store, so I added the items to my cart and chose the free (4-5 day) standard shipping. 
    After I closed the browser tab I forgot all about the order until several days later when I ran out of shampoo.  According to the Amazon website the items were ready to ship, but it wasn't until two days later that I got the email that said they were on their way.  I received the box nine days (seven business days) after I clicked the "BUY" button.  Somehow my hair and scalp survived, but they weren't happy.

    Five years ago today: The Cruise Diaries--Eating My Way Through The Caribbean

    Monday, April 3, 2017

    Just The Way I Like It

     Son Donald was home last week for his school's Spring Break.  It was wonderful to see him and spend some time with him.  However, he had a busy week planned, including catching up with friends, doing homework, and working on professional projects.  As the week wore on, in his busyness, he reverted to 'college boy' cleanliness.  It didn't help that I had a very busy weekend with not much time for housework.

    So this morning was all about getting things back to normal.  Before I left to run the day's errands I swept and damp mopped the kitchen floor, and promised it a thorough cleaning down the line.  I put all the dishes in the dishwasher, then cleaned the countertops with soapy water.  Donald had already started his bedding in the washer on his way out the door.  I transferred it to the dryer, then started another load which included the rug by the door to the garage.  The last thing I did was sweep the debris out of the garage so it wouldn't get tracked back in on the clean rug.

    Now everything is just the way I like it.

    Five years ago today: The Cruise Diaries--Ya Mon

    Friday, March 31, 2017

    The Laughing Gnome

    When I was out running errands today this came on the radio:

    After the song was over the DJ came on and announced that the song was by David Bowie. That originally surprised me, but when I came home and re-listened to it, the voice was obvious. Wikipedia said the song, which was released as a novelty single in 1967, was "a pastiche of songs by one of Bowie's early influences, Anthony Newley. At that time the song flopped, but became a hit when it was re-released in 1973.

    Thursday, March 30, 2017

    Too Tall Grass

    For the past two weeks, nine days have had at least some rain. The others have been party or mostly cloudy.  The damp and gloom haven't been great for my attitude, or the cutting of the grass.

    Hubby Tony bought a new lawn mower, and when he did the first cut of the year the grass was already long  He had to raise the wheels as high as they would go.  I had the same problem when I followed up with a second mowing a little over a week ago, and kept the wheels where they were.   Since then the grass been growing luxuriantly, and short rain-free breaks haven't been long enough for things to dry out.  

    When I walked through the grass yesterday morning, the blades covered my shoes.  It needed to be cut!

    Last night as I was cooking dinner I heard a neighbor using a mower and decided that if he could do it we could too.  However, Tony had an appointment to go to, so if the grass was going to get done it would fall on me.  After I ate I left Tony to clean up the kitchen while I got on my grass cutting shoes and headed out the door.

    The new mower starts up like a champ, and turned out to be the easiest part of the job.  I only had to push it a couple of feet to find out that the mower would have a hard time with the long grass. 

    Tall grass is difficult to cut, and tall, wet grass is even worse. The mower has a nice self-propelled function, but that was unusable with the thick, unruly grass.   If I went too fast the motor would get overwhelmed and stall. I eventually figured out the best procedure...walk two steps forward and one back, lift the front of the mower a couple of inches to allow any accumulated clippings to shoot out, then repeat.

    However, after a couple of successful passes across the yard I'd get cocky, go too fast, and the mower would stall again.  Every time it stalled a large clump of wet clippings were left behind. (After I was done I tried to go back with a rake and get them all up, and Tony made a second pass when he got home.  I don't think we were completely successful.)

    When I was done the grass looked much better, although there were weird tufts standing up here and there that managed to avoid being cut.  There were also grass clippings and wheel tracks up and down the driveway.  I pulled the spark plug on the mower, turned it over, and removed massive, damp, thick grass mats from underneath.  I also tried to remove the green stains from the driveway, then came in and did the same with my hands and clothes.

    Our plan was to lower to blade a notch or two and cut the grass in a couple of days and break the too-tall cycle, but last night I was laying in bed and heard the rumble of thunder...then the sound of rain.  The forecast has precipitation in the forecast for most of the days in the next week.

    I'm not optimistic that our plan will work. 

    Five years ago today: The Cruise Diaries--It's Grand!

    Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Around The World In Six Blocks

    Yesterday I was leafing through this week's Review (our area's Catholic newspaper) and came across an editorial about supporting immigrants and refugees in the area. There was also a sidebar list of specific ways to get involved. The very last one was to support an immigrant-owned business or restaurant, suggesting a good place to start would be one of the ethnic restaurants along South Grand, which is considered the International District of St. Louis. I mentioned the idea to Hubby Tony, and had barely finished my sentence when he said "Let's do it." An adventure was born.

    South Grand is only six blocks long, but it's filled with a wide variety of restaurants and shops. Before we left the house we did some research to find out if there was a church in the area, and were pleased to find out that St. Pius V parish was at the southernmost edge. Their 4:30 Mass fit perfectly into our plans.

    We decided to get there early enough to do some shopping before Mass, attend church, then go to dinner.  As we left the house mid-afternoon a light drizzle started falling.  We briefly thought about changing the plan, but decided to be adventurous. The rain stopped, but as we pulled into the church parking lot it started again.  Tony grabbed an umbrella from his car and we started walking north. (The drizzle stopped five minutes later.  Glad we stuck to the original plan.)

    As we strolled up and down the street we looked in all the store and restaurant windows and tried to narrow down our dinner choice.  A large portion of the world's cuisine is represented on South Grand. In addition to USA "eats", you can also find food from Brazil, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Persia, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, and Viet Nam. For good measure, there are two Vegan restaurants and a couple of dessert-only places.  After we'd browsed through an ethnic grocery store, a used book store, a Fair Trade shop, and popped into a half-dozen restaurants to look at the menus we had a short list to ponder.

    After church it was time to make a decision.  We decided that Moroccan sounded good.  It was.  My Cucumber Salad had diced cucumbers tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Tony tried the Harira, a traditional Moroccan soup that contained beef, lentils, chick peas, and vermicelli.  It was hard to narrow down my entree from among all the choices, but in the end I ordered the Artichoke M’Kally, which had several fried artichoke hearts on top of a vegetable medley that had been cooked in a fantastic tomato sauce and topped with olives and slivers of feta cheese. Tony got the Vegetable Couscous, which had large pieces of vegetables and chick peas on top of a bed of couscous.

    When we came out of the restaurant it was drizzling again.  By the time we'd walked three blocks the drizzle had turned into a steady rain, and we ran the last block to the car in a downpour.  By the time we got in the car we were soaked.  The adventure and good food made the inconvenience worthwhile, though

    Five years ago today: Polished Piggies Redux

    Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Good Day, Sunshine

    We're two weeks past the spring Daylight Savings Time change.  As always happens, the yearly shift to extra light in the evening made it dark again in the morning.  However, as the days continue to get incrementally longer the beginning of the day light has started to return.

    This morning when I woke up at my normal time there was enough brightness that I didn't have to turn on the bedroom light to pick out my clothes.  That realization of longer days to come makes me happy.

    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Fancy That

    Yesterday I was reading an article in a foodie magazine about a new trend; evidently chefs are using all types of unusual ingredients to make fancy waffles.  I'm usually not on the cutting edge of fads, but I'm already doing that.  For the past few months I've been putting a version of falafel batter in my trusty old waffle iron. The results are quite yummy.

    Traditional falafels are Middle Eastern balls or patties made from chickpeas.  They are usually fried, and look like this:
    Popo le Chien, Wikipedia
    These are mine:
    Falafel Waffles, ready to eat
    My inspiration was this Waffled Falafel recipe, but I've made several changes.  My version has scratch-cooked beans, half the oil (I substitute bean liquid), chickpea flour instead of all-purpose (which makes them healthier and gluten free), less salt, and whole eggs instead of egg whites (because I hate wasting anything, even if it's just an egg yolk).

    Falafel made in a waffle iron are far from traditional, but the waffled version contains all the necessary flavors.  The batter is easy to put together.  After it's ready I heat up the waffle iron and spray the interior surfaces with a good coating of cooking spray.  The first time I made the recipe, it took me a couple of rounds before I figured out that a half-cup of batter was just the right amount.  As each waffle finishes cooking I place it in the oven to stay warm.  Eventually the leftovers go into the freezer. 

    A traditional falafel sandwich is stuffed in a pita and topped with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, tahini sauce, and hot sauce.  That's too much work for me to put together, so I've been adding a crumbled falafel to a spinach salad mixed with a spoonful of yogurt and several dashes of hot sauce.  Even my meal is untraditional!

    Falafel Waffles

    4 cloves garlic
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    3 cups chickpeas
    1/3 cup bean liquid
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup chickpea or all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoon baking powder
    2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (to keep cooked waffles warm).

    Pulse the garlic in a food processor until minced. Add cilantro, parsley, and chickpeas and pulse again. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

    If necessary, lightly coat the top and bottom of the waffle iron with cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup of batter. (Some waffle iron will still be showing.) Close the lid gently and cook 5-10 minutes, or until the falafel is golden brown. Keep the cooked falafels warm in the oven or covered with foil on a plate while you make the remaining falafels.

    Five years ago today: The Cruise Diaries--Sunday At Sea

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Global Goof Off

    Are you feeling unmotivated today? Here's your official invitation to do something about it:

    For the rest of the day I'm taking a break from the things I have to do, and substituting want to dos.  Wanna join me?  Let me know how you celebrated.

    Five years ago today: The Cruise Diaries--Embarkation

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Goodbye And Good Riddance, Winter!

    Today is finally the first day of spring. This year the season tried to come too early, with bulbs, forsythias and flowering trees blooming weeks ahead of time.  But last week winter roared back in with temperatures that killed all the early bloomers.  Now, hopefully things will keep seasonally on track.

    With the new season here it was time to do some spring interior redecorating.  A big part of the job involves swapping out artwork in the living and family rooms.  For example, this snow scene, painted by Hubby Tony's great aunt many years ago:

    I love the memories it brings back, but the subject matter doesn't feel appropriate any more.  The painting was relegated to a closet in the basement until next fall.

    The new pieces are bright, flowery, and invoke the new season.  Like this one:

    When the changing of the artwork project was done I stepped back and took a look around. The whole thing only took fifteen minutes, but it made such a difference!

    Five years ago today: In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb--Hardly!

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    Cat Cleaners

    Tomorrow, of course, is St. Patrick's Day. However, I'll be too busy to cook a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner so I decided to serve it tonight.  After lunch I plopped the brisket in a baking dish, added the spice packet and a little water, then covered the whole thing with foil and put it in the oven to cook.  Two hours later I pulled it out of the oven to check for doneness. 

    The good news was that it was tender.  The bad news is that I spilled some of the hot liquid, which ended up on me, the countertop, the cabinets, and the floor.

    I thought I wiped everything down well with soapy water before I went upstairs to change my clothes.  However, the cats seemed to think otherwise.  When I came back into the kitchen they were doing an additional clean up on the stove.

    I thanked them for their help, then grabbed the soap and washcloth again.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2017

    A Pi Memory Helper

    According to Wikipedia, Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi), which is observed on March 14 (3/14 in the month/day date format) since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π.

    The Internet was full of Pi Day tidbits today.  My favorite, and new to me, was the mnemonic device "May I have a large container of coffee".  The number of letters in each word of the phrase corresponds to the first eight numbers of Pi's series.

    Sunday, March 12, 2017

    In The Land Of Grandbabies

    In my opinion, one of the greatest social developments of the past few decades is the change in parental leave policy. When my boys were born, Hubby Tony had to use his vacation days to spend time with his new sons. Today, the companies that Son Brian and Daughter-In-Law Nicole work for both have generous paid time off. After Baby Jay was born, both parents were there for the first initial weeks, then Nicole stayed home with him while Brian worked. When she went back to work Brian stepped in as the full-time caregiver.

    Brian has to go back to work at the beginning of April.  Before he does, he invited Tony and me out for a visit. We spent six wonderful days in California hanging with this guy:

    Jay was on the cusp of his five-month birthday (which happened the day we left).  Developmentally, he was right on track, so we got to see him sit up with just a little assistance and work on developing his rolling-over skills.  He liked to cuddle, coo, smile, laugh, and blow bubbles.  Any object in his hand ended up in his mouth. 

    Tony and I got to give him some bottles and take him out for a few walks.  The time flew by, and all too soon we were giving Jay a last hug and kiss.  Until our next trip Tony and I will have to make do with FaceTime calls and text updates.

    Thursday, March 9, 2017

    I Thought There Was Nothing To Eat...

    You know the feeling when you think your refrigerator and pantry are bare and then you discover you have the makings for a darn good meal in your own house?  The sweet potato and kale stir fry with fried eggs on top we were able to throw together was pretty yummy.