Thursday, April 19, 2018

Have A Ball

Yesterday I was at the post office to mail a package for work. After I took care of that I decided to buy some stamps. I like non-traditional ones, so when I looked at the poster of commemoratives the cute collection of sports balls stood out.  Not only were they colorful, but the shape was really unique. I decided to get them.


The clerk asked if I had seen them before.  When I told her I had not, she pointed out the that they were textured and invited me to feel them.  Sure enough, the baseball stitching, tennis ball and basketball seams, soccer ball and volleyball panels were raised, and the and golf ball, football, and kickball were nubby.

I'm going to have fun putting these stamps on my envelopes.

Five years ago today: No Grow

Monday, April 16, 2018

33 Ways To Stay Creative

      Break The Rules

Five years ago today: In Honor Of Tax Day...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Unfamiliar No More

Several months ago a large Asian grocery store opened near my house. I'm a sucker for exotic ingredients, so I had to go in and look around. However, while I was there I discovered that their produce section had some great prices, so now I stop in there once a week to see what they have. My price point is 99 cents a pound or less. That way if I don't like an item I'm not out a lot of money.

I often get some type of bok choy (which I learned comes in all different sizes and shapes) or eggplant (again with a wide variety of styles). For a couple of weeks they had grapefruit for a really good price, and Hubby Tony and I enjoyed it each day until the season ran out. Then there was asparagus for much cheaper than the other stores in town. We ate a lot of that for a couple of weeks. Sometimes I take a chance on other assorted other fruits and vegetables (like yuca).

Today's exotic find was yellow papaya. I've eaten the fruit dried and in salads, but I'd never seen them whole. Unsure if they needed a lot of work to process I put a smallish one into my bag and brought it home.
Papaya cross section / Wikipedia
Thanks to the Internet I found out that you process a papaya just like a cantaloupe (not surprising, as it's also known as a tree melon). You cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, section it, then cut the skin off. I was surprised to learn, though, that the seeds were also edible and can be used in a variety of ways.

This afternoon I cut up the papaya, but didn't have time to do anything about the seeds. I put them in a small container and placed the container in the refrigerator until tomorrow.  Another culinary adventure awaits!

Five years ago today: Saucy

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Don't Do It

My Facebook wall is filled with opportunities to answer surveys and take quizzes.  If you use the social media site I bet you've seen questions like these:
  • What was your first car?
  • What was your first job?
  • What was your high school mascot?
The queries always have thousands of answers. I rarely respond, but after reading an article called Don’t Give Away Historic Details About Yourself I'm going to completely stop. I learned that when you answer those quizzes, you could be giving away an answer to a website security question.  If someone has the answers to your questions they could get access to your accounts or online identity.

And then who knows what would happen?

Five years ago today: Doing A Good Deed From The Comfort Of My Couch

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

'Willow' It Grow?

When I picked up some donated flowers from a funeral home a couple of weeks ago one of the arrangements was a large vase containing a colorful mix of flowers, greenery, and curly willow branches. I broke down the arrangement, put all the stems in water, and took them with me the next day. At the end of the weekend I offered the flowers to the people who had attended the retreat. As I was carrying around the container I noticed that the branches were now studded with tiny green leaves!

I brought the remainder of the vegetation home. At this point the donated flowers were close to a week old and looked pretty rough. They went into the green waste can. The flowers I had bought for the occasion were still fresh. I put them in a vase along with the branches and some leatherleaf  fern stems. The only place that's safe from the cats is the family room fireplace mantel so I placed the arrangement there.

As the stems of flowers faded I took them out of the vase. Eventually I was left with nothing but greenery and branches.  The leaves on the branches kept getting bigger, though, so I wondered if they would grow if I planted them.  Google told me that yes, they would but that willows are vigorous growers with soft wood and invasive root systems.  I decided to put the stems into a pot.

The only appropriate size container I could find in the garage was an unattractive looking nursery pot, but I filled it with good potting soil and stuck the stems in. If they thrive I can slide the nursery pot into a decorative one. It's still cold at night, so for now the whole thing is back on the fireplace mantel.

Five years ago today: Thanks, I'm Just Doing My Job

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Good Baked Good Deed

Several times each year men from our church are part of an ecumenical Kairos Inside retreat team. "Inside" refers to the fact that the retreat takes part in a prison (in this case, one that houses maximum and high-medium security males). Each time the men go, they put out an appeal for cookies to take with them...because each team member is asked to provide 40 dozen homemade cookies to provide a "bottomless bowl" for the weekend. 

Hubby Tony has several friends on the current team. He wanted to support their efforts, so he asked me if I would like to bake with him. Instead of going somewhere last night after our traditional restaurant dinner, we went to the grocery store for ingredients, then came home and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Tony is a beginning baker, but he did the vast majority of the work. I provided expertise and advice and manned the mixer. When the batter was ready Tony scooped it onto the trays he'd prepared, put the trays in the oven, and moved the baked cookies to cooling trays. I did the clean up. After the cookies were cooled Tony packaged them according to the requirements, one dozen to each quart-sized Ziploc bag, then put them into the freezer until the Thursday delivery date.

Five years ago: Baseball Is Back! 2013

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Spring, Where Are You?

The 11 Seasons of Midwestern States:
Fool's Spring
Second Winter
Spring of Deception
Third Winter
Mud Season
Actual Spring
False Fall
Second Summer (1 week)
Actual Fall

Our area seems to be stuck in the Third Winter season. The high temperatures should be in the 60s. That's happened two times in the past week, but the other days the mercury got stuck in the 40s. And the low temperatures were way below freezing!

Last Saturday when Hubby Tony and I were doing some pre-Easter shopping he asked if I wanted some cut flowers for the table. I declined (because the cats tend to eat them), but said pansy plants from the garden store would provide a nice pop of color and could be planted outside afterwards. We decided on a pack with small yellow blooms. On Sunday I nestled the black plastic container in a basket where looked very nice.

After dinner it was too cold to put the flowers outside, so they stayed in the garage until Tuesday. The day was sunny and warm, and it was a joy to dig in the dirt in the front porch planter. Wednesday was cloudy and brisk. Thursday started out nice, but a cold front came through and by bedtime the temperature was back in the 30s. Each night since that time the lows were in the high 20s.

This morning when I looked outside the tiny yellow flowers were shriveled and drooping down to the ground. The leaves looked sickly and wilted. However, the day might have been brisk but it was sunny. By the afternoon the plants had amazingly perked up.

According to the forecast if the plants can hang on for three more days they should be rewarded with normal spring-like weather. Since that will be a third of the way through April I certainly hope the meteorologists are right.

Five years ago today: One Of The Mysteries Of The Universe

Thursday, April 5, 2018

"Dog" Detox

Recently I was introduced to the idea of a home version of a foot soak detox. Supporters of the procedure say it pulls the toxins out of your body through your feet. I was skeptical, but my tootsies love a good soak. If I could improve my health at the same time all the better, so in the interest of science I decided to try a detox out.

The soak didn't work for me, but your mileage may vary
The theory behind detoxing is that an alkaline body is crucial to a person’s health. Ingredients in the foot soak are predominantly alkaline. They also contain elements to remove impurities and add necessary trace minerals to your body.

Following the directions I received, I put Epsom salt, baking soda, sea salt, and a few drops of lemongrass essential oil in a large container, then added water as hot as I could stand. After mixing everything together the water was slightly cloudy from the additives. I put my feet in. At the end of 20 minutes I took them out and patted them with a towel to dry.

The detoxification process is supposed to be proven by the discolored water in the bath at the end of the treatment. My foot soak was very relaxing, but when I was done the water was still the same slightly cloudy color.

However, my experiment wasn't a complete waste of time. After the nice soak I gave myself a mini-pedicure, using a loofah to remove the dead skin and giving the cuticles some much-needed attention. As an added bonus, all afternoon a pleasant smell of lemongrass followed me around.

Five years ago today: Starting From Seed

Monday, April 2, 2018

Eye Drop Adventures

Last Wednesday I noticed that the outer corner of my left eye was cracked and red. I carefully dabbed some cream on the crack, and the redness went away. The next day the same eye felt irritated, like there was something in it. I also had a film over my vision that came and went. At bed time my eye was red and watery, and the right one didn't look so great either.

I called the optician's office right after they opened on Friday and got in for a visit a couple of hours later. After listening to my symptoms and looking in my eyes he diagnosed me with an infection that was probably viral, but since it was almost the weekend (when the office would be closed), he suggested prescribing antibiotic drops to cover all of the bases.

I left the office with a prescription and several sample bottles of lubricating eye drops. My instructions were to use the medicine four times a day and the drops once an hour.

I've been amazed how fast those hours fly by! Every time I turn around it's time to pull out the tiny sample bottle and squirt away. My eye immediately started feeling better, but I have to keep up the regimen for an entire week.  I'm always glad when Friday arrives, but this week I'll be doubly grateful.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Is It April Or December?

Happy Easter! It's been a very un-spring like one here.

Last night Hubby Tony and I attended the Easter Vigil at our church. When we walked out it felt like winter. This morning it was sunny, but my phone app told me it was only 32 degrees. After breakfast Tony and I bundled up to take a walk. It was really brisk.

Shortly after lunch the sun disappeared behind the clouds, and all afternoon it got darker. We had our Easter meal mid-afternoon, then Son Donald (who has been home for the last week for Spring Break) started packing up his car to go back to school. As he took out the next to last load it started raining. After a minute that turned to freezing rain. Then sleet. Then wet, sloppy snow. The precipitation stopped after 15 minutes, but since that time it's restarted and stopped again several times.

Depending on which forecast you believe the winter weather is already done, will stop around bedtime, or keep going until after midnight. It will be interesting to see what's waiting when I wake up in the morning.

Five years ago today: April Fools'

Saturday, March 31, 2018

World Backup Day

Did you know that today is World Backup Day?  The day reminds us to stop what we're doing and back up all of our computer, tablet, and phone files.

I was surprised to learn from the World Backup Day website that:
  • 30% of people have never backed up their files
  • 29% of file disasters are caused by accident
  • 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute
  • 1 in 10 computers are infected with viruses each month
I sync my phone calendar with the one on my kitchen computer every week or so, and as part of that iTunes also backs up everything for me.  After a hard drive failure on his computer some time back, Hubby Tony bought an external hard drive to back up the laptops and the kitchen computer.  However, I sense he's not as diligent as he used to be, so this will be a good reminder to both of us.

I hope you'll be backing up things today, too

Five years ago today: Easter Greetings

Friday, March 30, 2018

What A Concept!

Last weekend, you may remember, I was away on retreat.  This wasn't the first time I've been part of the team planning a similar event, and each time I do I learn and receive as much as I give.

When I returned home on Sunday I pulled out a slim book called Coming Down the Mountain: How to Turn Your Retreat Into Everyday Living that was gifted to me when I participated in the event as a retreatant. The book has six weeks worth of daily meditations and suggestions for incorporating what you learned on the retreat into your daily life.

Each day's meditations are thought provoking, but yesterday's provided me a real 'ah-ha' moment. Have you ever read through something multiple times with no effect, and then all of a sudden a thought jumps off of the page at you? That's what happened to me. In the section entitled "Difficult People" I was struck by a discussion about the difference between "like" and "love".

According to the book, liking someone means that you have positive feelings about them. Loving someone means helping them, not wanting to cause harm to them, and even sending prayer their way. We can love someone without liking them.

So that means I can love the jerk who cut in front of me today with a full cart of groceries to be first at a newly-opened check out line. I can love the people who spout political views I don't agree with on social media. I can even love the people who carry out horrible deeds.

I'd like to say that my loving is automatic, but it's not. It's a really hard thing for me to do. I'll keep working at it, though.

Five years ago today: Good Friday Is The Blues

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Tale of Two Trees

I felt like Spring is really tardy this year. Now I have proof.

There is a large redbud tree next to the deck in the back yard. The photo of it on the left just popped up as a memory on my Facebook page. At this time in 2012 it was full of flowers and even a few tiny leaves at the end of the branches. The photo on the right is from today. Buds on the branches but nothing else.

And the forecast for the next ten days shows the same chilly weather as we're having now.  I wonder when those buds will actually get a chance to open?

Five years ago today: Oh No She Didn't!

Monday, March 26, 2018

This Strange English Language

An oldie but goodie...
We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,
and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.
                   ~~Author unknown~~
Five years ago today: A FEW Of My Favorite Things

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Fortuitous Flowers

Since the beginning of the year I've been one of about 30 women planning a religious retreat at a local retreat center. Tomorrow morning after breakfast I will, in the event lingo, "head up the mountain" and not come back until Sunday morning.

One of my responsibilities for the retreat is to have flowers for one of the events. I needed 60 stems. And there wasn't really a budget for flowers. As I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to get the job done, one of the other women on the team suggested that I check with nearby funeral homes to see if they had any arrangements to give away.

That was a source I hadn't thought of!

I called the nearest one last week and asked about donations. The woman I spoke with said I would need to contact them a day or two before I needed the flowers. When I called back yesterday there were three arrangements available. They put my name on them, and said I could pick them up any time during the day.

I stopped by the parlor today when there were no visitations going on. The large building was eerily quiet. I announced myself to the attendant at the desk. He walked with me to an empty viewing room, pointed out the arrangements that were mine, then helped me carry them out to my car.

When I got home I disassembled the arrangements. Many of the flowers were past their prime and went straight into the yard waste trash can, but in the end I had about half of the flowers I needed. I also kept some greenery and filler flowers that may come in handy. After a trip to the store to buy the rest of the flowers I needed, I placed everything in some plastic cat litter buckets, then staged the buckets by the garage door until tomorrow morning.

Now my garage temporarily looks like a florist. I didn't think about how much room all those flowers were going to take up!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Is Here?

Today is the first day of spring. However, when I took a walk after lunch it didn't look or feel like it. I wore my heavy winter coat and a pair of gloves (and should have added something to cover my ears).

Not too far from my house I saw these winter-looking trees:

But when I looked closer there were subtle signs of the changing season. Check out the buds:

Five years ago today: Signs Of The Season

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Tasty Potato Substitute

Hubby Tony and I eat dinner out on Saturday nights, so this year we pushed back our St. Patrick's corned beef and cabbage dinner till today.  I bought enough meat, potatoes, and carrots for the two of us to have dinner tonight and leftovers tomorrow, so when Son Donald said he was coming into town to take care of a couple of errands I had to figure out how to bulk everything up.  I was going to Aldi for a couple of things anyway, so I bought a package of sweet Hawaiian rolls and a container of ice cream for dessert.  On the way there I also had a menu inspiration.

Earlier in the week I was at the Asian market buying produce.  I enjoy trying new things if the price is right, and this time they had a sale on yuca root. I knew nothing about it, but it was only 99 cents a pound so I added a smallish piece to my bag.

I had done some research and learned that yuca (also called casava and manioc) is the root of a South American shrub that is a major staple food in the developing world, and that it could serve as a substitute for potatoes in some dishes.  Since I didn't have enough actual potatoes in the house I figured I could also use the yuca.  It could also add an exotic element to the meal.

While the corned beef was cooking I cut the yuca root into pieces about three inches long, then used a paring knife to remove the peel.  When the meat was done I removed it and added cut up red potatoes and carrots to the pot, reserving a little broth to pour over the yuca pieces in a small saucepan.  After the liquid came to a boil both pots simmered for 20 minutes until everything was fork tender.  I drained the conventional vegetables and dumped them into a bowl.  I put the yuca into a separate bowl, removed its fibrous core, and broke the flesh into smaller pieces.  Everything went on the table when it was time to eat.

We all thought the yuca was pretty good.  It was drier than the boiled potatoes, but it had taken on the flavor of the corned beef broth.  There was plenty of food for everyone, and I was able to send Donald home with some leftovers for tomorrow. 

We don't eat a whole lot of starchy vegetables, but I would definitely have this one again.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Last night the Spelman College Glee Club brought their "Resilience Annual Spring Tour 2018" to our church. Hubby Tony and I were there.

Before last night I knew that Spelman was a historically Black college, but nothing else about it. In the lead up to the event I had learned that it was a woman-only school in Atlanta. The show program told me the school was founded in the late 1880s, became Spelman in 1924, and that the glee club had been existence since 1925. The group sings both sacred and secular music with a focus on traditional spirituals and music by African American composers.

We got there about 15 minutes before the show started and chatted with fellow parishioners and friends. The stage was a set of risers placed in front of the altar with a black curtains backdrop. Right on time the approximately 30 singers filed down from the back and took their places. The women were dressed in long black skirts, scoop neck tee shirts, and pearls. After some introductory remarks, they settled themselves and began singing.

Their voices melded beautifully, and the harmonies were amazing. All of the soloists were wonderful. There was a group of Spelman alumni there, and at the end of the second half they were invited to join the glee club on stage to sing the school song.

This is one of the songs I heard last night. (In an interesting twist, last night a huge rain storm started right before the song began. The heavy drops hitting the church's roof made for an amusing counterpoint.)

Five years ago today: Fact O'The Day

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Finding First Class Footwear

Back in January my brown leather shoes fell apart when I went to put them on. It was time to replace them. My foot is weirdly shaped (I have a wide forefoot and a narrow heel) so it's hard for me to find shoes that fit. I had no idea how hard it would be, though!

Brown did not seem to be a very popular color this year. After stopping in several big box shoe stores with no success I paid a visit to a comfort shoe store that recently opened near me. I walked in and explained the situation, and the clerk jokingly exclaimed it was a shame I couldn't just stick with tennis shoes. She brought out several styles for me to try on, but nothing was just right. A store at the mall had a pair that fit perfectly...and cost $150, way more than I wanted to spend.

Finally I exhausted my options, and decided I would make do until warmer weather let me pull out my summer shoes. If I happened to be in a store that sold shoes I would glance down the aisles, but didn't expect to find anything. Two weeks ago we were running errands when Hubby Tony announced he needed new shoes. I went with him into the store, and was slightly depressed when he found a pair after ten minutes of looking.

A couple of days later I got a coupon in the mail for that very same shoe store. I told Tony, and we agreed it was a shame he couldn't have saved a little money on his purchase. The next time my errands took me towards that store I stopped in, with no expectation that I would have any luck.

I walked through the casual shoe section and headed back to the clearance area. The first three racks didn't have anything remotely close to what I was looking for, but on the fourth rack I saw a box containing a pair of dark brown Merrell slip ons (a new to me brand). Holding my breath I tried them on. They felt comfortable, so I gave them the walk test. Hallelujah! They fit! I couldn't believe my luck.

At the cash register I learned that not only were the shoes 20 percent off, I could use my mail coupon ($10) and another $10 coupon I had cached in my account. According to the receipt I had saved almost as much as I paid for the shoes.

I've worn the shoes enough now to know they are as comfortable as my original assessment thought they'd be. They look like they're made out of sturdy leather, so I hope I get many years of wear out of them before I have to start the shoe shopping process again.

Five years ago today: Delicates

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bookmark Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I picked out a book from a nearby Little Free Library.  Since not everything I read has to be educational or 'important', this time I chose fluff--Explosive Eighteen, one of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels.  When I got home I dove right in.

I've read most of the books in the series. They're pretty repetitive, but I enjoy the core group of characters and mindless entertainment.  When it was time to put the book down I grabbed an old page from a Thought for the Day calendar to use for a bookmark: 

Bookmark and inspirational thought
When I was done reading the book I tucked the calendar page inside, then returned the book to the library.  I hope it will be helpful to whoever finds it.

Five years ago today: No Can Do

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Changing The Hands Of Time

Today marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. At 2 a.m. we "sprung forward" an hour to be able to shift more of the natural daylight to the evening.

Half of the clocks in our house are smart and reset themselves, but the rest need to be done manually. This morning I walked from room to room changing those that had the incorrect time (and made a second sweep in the afternoon when I realized I had forgotten a couple).  Over the past few months there have been a few power outage blips, after which clocks were reset to "close enough" time.  While I was at it, I also adjusted those too.

Most of manual-change models are intuitive, but there are a couple that I can never remember how to do.  One is  the clock/radio/CD player in the kitchen. I couldn't find the instructions. After both Hubby Tony and I randomly pushed buttons and rotated knobs with no effect I asked Google. A search for the make and model number gave me a PDF of the instructions.  Before I used them I downloaded the file to my computer.

Will I remember its there next time I'm looking for the information?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A World In Miniature

The "General Community" section of Craigslist in a fascinating microcosm of real life. Legitimate requests are mixed in with humorous, dramatic, melancholy, and tragic ones. Some of the most interesting posts I found during a recent browsing session on the site (complete with original spelling and grammar):
  • Fridge Purge - Purged my fridge of fattening foods. Would like to help a struggling single mother. Must pick up in (City Name).
  • Looking for personal loan - I do not have good credit and am in a situation where I need a loan. Im curious are there places that have income based repay loans. Or an individual willing.
  • Please I need help - I'm looking to work I was homeless and after 4 years of homelessness with God's help I finally got a apartment but my electric is off I need some work so I can get them on if anyone can help I would be more than happy Thanks
  • Manikin - Looking for a free or cheap manikin for an art project.
  • Seeking Chessmaster - I love playing chess. The problem is that I don't know how to plan a good strategy, so I kinda suck. I know how the pieces move, and that white goes first, but beyond that not so much. So I'm wanting to find someone that is really really good. If you would be willing to help me with my chess game, drop me an email.
  • NRA Life Membership - I'm a life member of the NRA, and looking to sell it. I have my reasons, and feel someone else would appreciate it more than I do. A life membership costs $1,500 straight from the NRA, so you're getting this at a deal. The price is firm. All it would take to take it is a quick name and address change in their files. The same as if you were to pass it on to one of your children. You will get everything I got when I bought the membership, except my member certificate. I doubt you would be interested in that anyway.
  • Free potbelly pig - Free friendly male pig. He likes people and other animals I just don't have time for him.
  • Looking for doctor to help me lose weight. - I need to lose a lot of weight so I'm looking for a doctor that can start me on contrave or something like it. I wasn't sure where to post this so I thought I would start here. Let me know if you can help or know of a doctor that can. Thank you.
  • huassment - have you been stopped on the road ways by a security or feel they are just with a lot of harassment trying to play cops the i want to hear from you some security companys are out of control i will tell you how to put a stop to them and want they can really do
Five years ago today: Not Perfect, But It'll Do

Monday, March 5, 2018

Never Tie Again

My current pair of house shoes is an old pair of white canvas Keds. Although the shoes were still comfortable, after years of wear they had too many permanent stains and looked dingy to go out of the house. When they made the move to inside-only, I loosened the shoelaces so I could slip the the shoes on and off without tying, then secured the laces with a double knot and controlled the floppy lace ends by typing them with a conventional bow.

The problem was that the bows were forever coming undone. It was very annoying (and potentially dangerous) to be in the middle of carrying something heavy up the stairs and feel the ends of the laces flapping on the floor. Today I was at a shoe store and saw a pair of "no tie" laces hanging from a hook. I thought maybe they could solve my lace issue, so I decided to buy a pair.

Look like giant springs, don't they?
At home I unknotted and removed the old laces and replaced them with the curly ones. It was hard to get the springy tension just right, but once I did the shoes fit comfortably on my feet and I didn't have to worry about the laces coming undone.

It will be interesting to see how they wear, but now, after a couple of hours I'm a real fan.

Five years ago today: Memories

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Magazine Yourself

This evening I'm going to a banquet sponsored by an organization that Hubby Tony belongs to.  I don't get the chance to dress up much, so I'm taking advantage of the opportunity by putting on a new dress, fancy jewelry, and actual makeup.  I honor of the occasion I even polished my fingernails!

While waiting for the polish to dry I was poking around on the internet and came across the website, which does pretty much what its name implies.  I had time to kill, so why not?  There were a couple dozen different covers to choose from. I uploaded a photo, resized it to fit the space better, then 'published' it:

Five years ago today: Ding-Dong!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Be Careful How You Type

A strange email showed up in my Inbox the other day. The forwarded message was about booking a block of rooms at a resort for a daughter's wedding later in the year. At first I was confused. I didn't recognize any of the names, but then I realized the person had just typed the 'To' address incorrectly. The intended recipient would probably be wondering where the information was, so I replied to the message, saying
"I believe you made a mistake in the email address when you sent this, as I did not request the information. However, congratulations on your daughter's wedding! The venue looks like a very nice place."
The next day I had a response from the sender thanking me, and apologizing for the mistake. I never heard from her again, so she obviously took care of the issue.

My story had a happy ending. Here's a silly example of one that doesn't:

Five years ago today: Adopt A Cardinal

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Bigger, Better Sleep Surface

Last fall when I put the flannel sheets on our bed I noticed that part of the binding on the mattress edge was starting to come off. I couldn't tell you how old the mattress is, so I put 'research and buy new mattress' on my list of 257 other projects.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, where I had a work assignment in a store that happened to sell mattresses. As part of a discussion with the salesman in that department I learned they were discontinuing the Tempur-Pedic brand and selling off all of their inventory. All of a sudden getting that new mattress jumped to the top of the list.

Over the years I've had the opportunity to try out the original memory foam mattress several times. Each time I told myself I'd love to have one, but its high price held me back. For the rest of the day I kept thinking about my conversation with the salesperson. After dinner I took Hubby Tony back to the store where we laid on the display model together, agreed it was a good fit, and decided to buy it. For about a third of the regular price.

There was one tiny problem, though. All they had left were queen sized mattresses. Our bed frame, part of a 1940s vintage set, is full sized (which is six inches narrower and five inches shorter). The salesman suggested converter rails. which included extenders to make the larger mattress fit. I didn't know such a thing existed, but was glad it did.

The mattress was scheduled to be delivered last Tuesday, but when the truck arrived I was told the 'converter' part of the rails hadn't been shipped with the rest of the frame. The company overnighted the part, and I rescheduled the delivery for today. The truck showed up right in the middle of the time frame they assigned me. Thirty minutes after they walked in the door they had the new rails put together and the mattress laying on top of them.

While I was waiting for the mattress to be delivered I hit the thrift stores to look for new bedding for the new up-sized bed. After a couple of tries I found a set of queen sized percale sheets and a partial set (missing the pillow cases) of flannel sheets. I figured I'll just use the ones from the current set. The blanket is a combination full/queen and won't need to be replaced, but after trying to make do with the current comforter and dust ruffle I can see they're much too small. They'll have to go.

Time to hit the thrift stores again. (Good thing it's one of my favorite activities.)

Five years ago today: A Medicine Cabinet In A Bottle

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Not So Humdrum Dinner

Every once in a while I get in a cooking rut, where it feels like I'm making the same thing over and over for dinner. The other day I decided to shake things up.

I started with a survey of what was in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. No surprise that I found exactly the same ingredients that have been there for the past month. Randomly picking black beans and sweet potatoes as inspiration ingredients, I started searching the Internet for recipes. Google was full of variations on chili and casseroles, but they all left me cold. It wasn't until later in the morning that inspiration hit. I could make chili and use it on top of something! In this case, the 'something' could be the Napa cabbage purchased earlier in the week at the Asian market. Kind of a Mexico/Asia fusion salad

Later in the day I was out running errands when I saw a sign outside the produce market that said they had avocados on sale. (Five for a dollar! How could I not stop?) The avocados were small, and not as ripe as I would have liked, but I figured it would be a nice addition.

I cook my beans from scratch, and freeze them in 3-cup portions. That means if it's just me and Hubby Tony eating dinner I can get two meals out of a container. This meal was no exception.  When it got close to dinner time I chopped the cabbage and set it on the counter so it would come to room temperature. After cobbling together a couple of different chili recipes to suit my taste I sauteed onions and garlic, then dumped in the beans, diced sweet potato, a can of tomato sauce, chili powder, and cumin. Things looked a little dry and was out of stock, so I added just enough water to cover the ingredients. After coming to a boil the chili simmered until the sweet potatoes were done (about 20 minutes).

At dinner time I put two cups of cabbage on each plate, poured the chili on top, then added half of a chopped avocado. Right before I put the plates on the table I found a little cheddar cheese in the freezer. I sprinkled some on top, then added some crumbled tortilla chips after I took the photo. The finished result:

Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili Salad (serves 4)

3 cups black beans
Approximately the same amount of sweet potatoes
1/2 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil (or water for sauteing)
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Stock or water (as needed)
8 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
2 avocados, cubed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips and salsa (optional)

Drain and rinse the beans. Dice sweet potatoes. Saute onion and garlic in oil or a small amount of water until translucent. Add beans, sweet potatoes, spices, tomato sauce, and stock or water to cover ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer until sweet potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes).

Arrange cabbage on two plates. Spoon chili on top. Garnish with avocado and cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and salsa.

Five years ago today: What Do You Call A Group Of...?

Friday, February 23, 2018

An Early Sign Of Spring

I'm so ready for winter to be over, but the spring solstice doesn't arrive for almost a month.  It doesn't help that I haven't seen the sun for almost a week, and it's rained (or flurried) for six out of the past seven days.

This afternoon when I got in the car to run an errand my radio was tuned to AM Station Preset One. At first all I heard was a murmuring silence, but a couple of seconds later I heard the broadcasters for St. Louis Cardinals baseball. I soon learned that this was the very first spring training game of the year.

If they're playing baseball, nice weather can't be far behind. Right?.

Five years ago today: Truly Trivial