Sunday, August 31, 2014

Easy "Roasted" Garlic

Hubby Tony and Son Donald decided to clean out the produce drawer and make a Tuscan grilled vegetable salad for dinner. I suggested they add some white beans and turn it into a main dish. They agreed. Mid-afternoon they were busy preparing the eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and onions to go on the grill. I offered to make the vinaigrette that they would toss everything in.

All the dressing ingredients went into the blender and got pureed. That sounded easy enough.  However, when I took a closer look at the recipe I saw that it called for six roasted garlic cloves.  I was NOT going to preheat the oven for that small amount! 

I figured there had to be a way to replicate the texture of roasted garlic without heating the whole kitchen up. A Google search proved me correct. I put the unpeeled cloves in a microwave-safe bowl, added a splash of water, then covered the bowl with a lid and cooked it in the microwave.  Ninety seconds later my garlic was perfectly soft, squishy, and ready to squeeze into the blender.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Sink Isn't SUPPOSED To Sink!

Sunday I was getting ready to rinse some vegetables for lunch when I noticed the undermount sink (which came with the granite countertops we had installed four years ago) had come loose from the countertop.  Half of it was falling down into the cabinet, which is not a good thing. 

I yelled for Hubby Tony to come take a look.  Before I knew it Son Donald was there, too and all three of us were brainstorming ideas.  We were in agreement that we needed something tall enough to prop the sink up so it didn't fall any further, and set off in search of that 'something'. 

Looks funny, but it worked!
I looked in the garage, and Tony did the same thing in the basement.  Donald went out to his car and brought in the jack from the trunk.  Nothing worked, but we combined our ideas and set an empty cat litter bucket on top of the jack, then raised it up until it lifted the sink.  While the men were working inside the cabinet I called the company that installed the sink and left a detailed voice message, asking them to call ASAP Monday morning.

Although the company did call Monday morning, they couldn't send anyone out until Wednesday.  I didn't want to make the sink any heavier by putting water in it, so for a couple of days I tried to make as few dirty dishes as possible. I counted down the hours until the kitchen would be back to normal

When the installers showed up they blamed the failure on the first installer and the glue they used 'back then'.  They unhooked the drains, took the sink completely out, and cleaned the edges.  Next they applied a thick layer of stinky caulk and stuck the sink back under the counter, then clamped everything together tightly.  Then they gave us some bad news.  The caulk had to cure overnight (with NO water dripping on it); they'd have to come back today to reattach the drains. 

This morning I filled buckets with water to hand wash the breakfast dishes.  It was a real pain.  After dinner I did it again.  I was very glad when the installer showed up.  He did his job quickly, then told me we were back in business.  Thank goodness!

Five years ago today: Mother May I?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Too Darn Hot!

That's been my mantra the past week. Every hot, humid, day when the temperature has been close to 100°.

Last weekend the weather folks promised a cool down by mid-week. Each day the nice weather has been pushed back; now they're saying things will change starting tomorrow (only 92°), but a daily chance of storms guarantees the humidity will make it feel warmer than that.

But, like someone said at the gym yesterday, we won't still be complaining about the muggy weather on Halloween.

Five years ago today: WHAT'S Your Name?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Different, But The Same

Today at the mall Customer Service desk a woman who works at one of the stores asked if she could use our computer to log into her email and print out a schedule her boss had sent.  I moved the keyboard and mouse to the top of the desk, and she quickly logged in.  I could still see the screen and was surprised that her home page looked much different than what I'm used to.  It was in Hebrew.

The woman quickly printed out what she needed.  In the meantime I started helping another customer, so I forgot to remind her to log out of her account before she left.  It should have been intuitive for me to figure out where to click to exit, but the foreign lettering had me stumped for a couple of minutes.

Even after I logged out the Hebrew home page remained.  I thought about it for a few minutes, then entered my user name and password in the boxes.  When my account home page loaded I signed out and had the English version back.

Five years ago today: King and Saint

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Being Bitten Bites!

Although Hubby Tony and I share the grass cutting duties, I'm the main trimmer.  I've been procrastinating on the job for a couple of weeks.  The oppressive heat has been part of the reason, but the larger issue is that if I stay still for any period of time the mosquitoes feast on me.

The grass along the edges was getting really straggly looking, though, so tonight after dinner I decided to tackle the job.  I sprayed myself with a bug spray that promised to repel mosquitoes, moisturize my skin, and smell pleasant.  I went outside and trimmed until I filled up a large black nursery pot, then dumped the trimmings in the green waste can and put everything away.

When I got inside I realized the repellant had delivered on two of its three promises, but failed on the one that was most important to me--the repelling.  In fifteen minutes outside I got one bite on my right shin, and one on my left foot next to the heel.  There were two on the right side of my left knee, and three on my right thigh immediately above my kneecap.

For some reason my experience made me think of the Off! commercial from the 1960s where the man sticks his arm in a cage full of mosquitoes.  (I always wondered how much he got paid to do that.)

Five years ago today: Season's Greetings To You

Friday, August 22, 2014

Charmed Circle Deux

It was a little more than a week ago that I saw a large fairy ring in the yard of a house not too far from mine.  This morning as I was leaving my street I saw a circle of white mushrooms in the grass two houses from the original one.  It was not there yesterday.

This circle was only about four feet in diameter, but the mushrooms were HUGE! (The picture doesn't do them justice.)

Before last week I'd never seen a fairy ring.  Why, now, all of a sudden would there be two?  I'm sure there are logical, scientific reasons... the last month has been cooler and wetter than average, or the spores blew from one yard to the other, or the lawns need to be dethatched. 

However, I prefer a more imaginative answer.  The other day Joanne suggested the original ring was so big because the fairies needed a lot of seating.  Maybe the party got too big and they divided it into two parts, or maybe there was a falling-out and some of the fairies got mad and moved to a new location.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It Wasn't Me!

The other day I was looking at the charge card bill online and saw two charges I didn't recognize.  At first I thought they were from our recent vacation, but underneath each charge was an additional line labeled 'Foreign Transaction Fee'. When I opened each item up I saw that the card had been used for gas at two stations in the Dominican Republic. 

Our vacation was in Denver, not the Dominican.  Yikes!

I had plans to leave the house that morning, but I immediately changed those plans and called the charge card company. Forty-five minutes later they'd reversed the charges from the account, cancelled the card, and said they would send me a new one with a new number.  The representative asked me if the card had been out of my possession.  It hadn't (other than nominal amounts of time when a waiter ran it at a restaurant), but I had shopped at Target during the period they said hackers were stealing information.  I wonder if that's how my number got into the wrong hands?

Hubby Tony checked less than 24 hours later, and there were already credits on the online account statement. When I received the new card several days later there was written documentation from the fraud department that everything had been taken care of.

Thank goodness.

Five years ago today: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Can A Guy Get A Little Attention Here?

I got a text from Son Donald today with this picture attached:

The caption was "Technically not on the table". 

I guess he's right.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes You Just Need A Good Laugh...

Did you hear about the Italian chef that died?
  • He pasta way.
  • We cannoli do so much
  • His legacy will become a pizza history.
  • Here today, gone tomato
  • How sad that he ran out of thyme.
  • Sending olive my prayers to the family.
  • His wife is really upset. Cheese still not over it.
  • You never sausage a tragic thing
  • It’s such a shame good people have to die fusilli reasons.
  • It was a farfalle from grace.

Five years ago today: Look Mom...No Cavities!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Those Must Be Some Big Fairies!

All week I've drivin by a house that has a huge (about ten feet in diameter) fairy ring of mushrooms in the yard.  Tonight I stopped and took a picture:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

There's More To Ferguson Than You Might Think

It's been almost a week, but unfortunately the City of Ferguson, Missouri continues to be in the spotlight.   It's hard to keep up with the news, which changes almost hourly.  Based on the headlines you might think the entire area is in turmoil. You'd be wrong.

Ferguson covers a little over six square miles. The unrest and riots have been confined to a very small portion of the city. Yesterday Hubby Tony and I listened to a local radio show as we were getting ready for bed.  The host talked to a few restaurant owners in downtown Ferguson whose business had dropped off as a result of the disturbance. Tonight we decided to show our support for the area.

There are about two dozen restaurants and food service places in the downtown area, most of them along South Florissant Road. We chose the Ferguson Brewing Company where we enjoyed an awesome meal. We weren't alone; I heard the large group at the table next to ours talking and it sounded like they were there for the same reason.

After dinner we went to church at the nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe church. The Mass was very inspirational and uplifting. I wasn't surprised that the topic of the nearby violence came up several times, but each time they focused on what we could do to help alleviate it. 

Five years ago today: Summer's Bounty

Friday, August 15, 2014

Patch A Chip

Several years ago I had a small chip on my car windshield.  I repaired it with a do-it-yourself kit from the car parts store.  The job was easy to do, but a bit of a hassle.  That windshield bit the dust, and the current windshield has been in place for three years.  Two weeks ago I noticed a chip on the passenger side with cracks radiating out from the center.  From one edge to the other it was about two inches long.  I thought that would be too big to repair, so I called my insurance company about having the windshield replaced again.

The insurance company uses a "preferred" provider for auto glass, so I got transferred to that office.  Much to my surprise they told me I could have the chip repaired, and set an appointment for this afternoon.  At 2:00 the doorbell rang and the technician introduced herself.  I showed her the windshield imperfection, and she verified she could indeed take care of it.  It would take her about 30 minutes to do the job.

It actually took closer to 20 minutes.  She cleaned the windshield, then injected resin into the chip and set an ultra-violet light on top of the area to cure the resin.  While it was curing she cleaned the exterior of the rest of the windows and vacuumed the front seat carpet of the car (which was a nice touch).   Before I knew it she was knocking at the door again with my paperwork.  Unlike my do-it-yourself job this one has a warranty.  She showed me her work and I was amazed.  All that was left of the chip was two pinhead sized dots.  The rest had disappeared.

The best part?  My insurance company waived the deductible because I had the windshield repaired instead of replaced.

Five years ago today: Jammies

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Remodeling Season

It's remodeling season at the mall.

All summer they've been working on patching and replacing the sidewalks.  A crew has been on the roof doing something with the air conditioners.  For a couple of weeks different areas of the parking lots and garage have been roped off with yellow tape every day, and I had to be observant so I could  zig and zag around them.

There are changes going on inside, too.  One store is being remodeled.  Another is being rebranded with a new concept by the same corporate owner.  Two storefronts are being built out for new stores, and the management office has announced there are more changes to come.  (They didn't come out and say it, but I suspect everything will be done before the holiday shopping season--the main event for retailers--begins.)

All these changes have led to some grumpy customers who don't like change and expect 'their' store to be there.  They come to the Customer Service desk to vent; we have a list of alternate places they can find what they're looking for so we can send them in the right direction.  There's never a dull day at the mall!

Five years ago today: Birds of Prey

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Sad State Of Affairs

Ferguson, Missouri (a suburb of the St. Louis area) is making the national news. But not in a good way.  On Saturday Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, was killed in an altercation with the police. Afterwards the officer gave his version of what happened. A friend of Michael Brown contradicted that version. The incident turned into 'he said, she said', and racial tensions began running high.

Last night there was a candlelight vigil that turned violent. Several businesses were looted, and a gas station was burned.

On the way to work today I heard the young man's parents were going to hold a press conference about the matter, but Ferguson isn't particularly close to the mall so I didn't think any more about it. Shortly after I opened the Customer Service desk I got a call from the main office letting me know there'd been rumors on social media that some people were calling for incidents at several places, including this mall. They were aware of it, and had extra Security guards and police officers on the floor.

For a while after I hung up the phone I startled at every strange noise, but after an hour or so I relaxed. There was indeed an extra safety presence, although they looked a little bored.  Over the course of my shift I fielded several calls asking me if the mall was open. (I guess those people had heard the rumors, too).  When my co-worker arrived to relieve me mid-afternoon I passed on everything I'd been told.  We agreed we hoped the sad issue resolves itself soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moonlight Rambling

Every year about this time I hear ads for the Moonlight Ramble, a leisurely nighttime bike ride through the streets of St. Louis.  Every year I think, "I should do that some day".   Now I can say I have; last night Hubby Tony and I participated in the fifty-first version of the ride. 

This year AARP was one of the big Ramble sponsors.  Last month when I was reading through the group's Bulletin I noticed the local office was offering a limited number of free registrations.  I quickly sent off an email to the contact person, and was excited to find out a couple of days later that I'd snagged one.

Last night at 12:05 AM (long after I'm usually in bed) Tony and I were on our bikes at the staging area just south of Busch Stadium  along with thousands of others waiting for our turn to start riding.   Around us was an incredible variety of people, from babies in bicycle trailers to couples on tandem bikes. Families were clustered together, and there were quite a few people in costumes or groups with matching shirts.

When we finally got the OK to start it took several minutes for the bikes in front of us to get out of the way so we could get moving.  For the first couple of blocks things moved slowly, but eventually the crowd spread out.  Despite the fact the organizers emphasized the Ramble is not a race, some bikers felt the need to go fast; they darted in and out of the pack annoyingly, but for the most part the riders were a friendly group that leisurely rode down the blocked-off streets.

There was a  short (9 mile) and a long (19 mile) ride.  We had planned on doing the longer route, but when we got to the turnoff we changed our minds.  Only half the people turned with us, which made the rest of the ride less congested and more pleasant.  It took us about an hour to return to the staging area, where a band was playing.  We got some snacks and a drink, listened to the music for a while, and decided to call it a night.

On the way home we were already talking about what we'd do differently next year.  I guess we've started a new tradition.

Five years ago today: Younger or Older?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Unique Flavors

I try to stay away from potato chips, but today when Hubby Tony, Son Donald, and Son Tony went to the grocery store they brought home several bags of produce and healthy food....and a bag of Lay's Wasabi Ginger chips, one of the four finalists for the 2014 "Do Us a Flavor" promotion.  (The others are Cappuccino, Mango Salsa, and Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese)

The chips were good, but I thought the wasabi was a little too mild.  When Tony left for the evening to visit with some friends I asked him to take the rest of the bag with him. I didn't want to be tempted to eat more.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pizza, Anyone?

You may remember that last month I signed up to be a secret shopper.  I've now done a half dozen assignments, but the majority of them have been for a chain of pizza parlors that has two locations relatively close to my house.  I must be the only person in my area who can do them because they keep calling me!

One of the locations will deliver.  My house is outside the delivery area for the other so there I order the pizza as a carry out.  My assignment is to get a pizza, rate the quality of the service, and take pictures of the pizza from several vantage points.  I upload the pictures and fill out a short survey, then call it done.

We used to order from this chain when the kids lived at home and we needed to fill three teenage boy stomachs.  The first time I did the assignment we had the pizza for dinner, and I realized my taste buds had changed.  It may be on the inexpensive side, but it's not the best.  Son Donald has friends who like pizza, though, so I tell him when I'm getting one and he figures out whose turn it is for a free meal.

The pay for doing this isn't great, but I figure I'm paying my secret shopper dues and getting experience.  I'm also making several 20-somethings happy, so it's worth it.

Five years ago today: Fine Dining

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Centennial State

Hubby Tony and I just got back from a whirlwind four days in Central Colorado.  While we were there we saw the sights in Denver:

State Capitol building

Capitol Building step--5280 feet

Big Blue Bear statue

Colorado Springs and nearby areas:

Air Force Academy chapel

Pike's Peak Cog Railway

And the Rocky Mountain National Park and surrounding territories:

Continental Divide-more than 2 miles above sea level

Five years ago today: Getting Nailed

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Pastor's Cat

An urban legend...but nevertheless funny:
My friend Dwight recently told a story about the pastor of his church who had a kitten that climbed up a tree in his backyard and was afraid to come down. The pastor coaxed, offered warm milk, and tried most everything he could think of to get it to come down, but the kitty would not budge.
The tree was not sturdy enough to climb, so the pastor decided that if he tied a rope to his car and pulled it until the tree bent down, he could reach up and get the kitten.  That, then, is just what he did.  He attached one end of a rope to the tree and the other to his car, and then pulled the tree downward, all the while checking his progress in the car. After getting out and trying unsuccessfully to reach the kitten, he decided that if he went just a little bit further with the car, the tree would be bent sufficiently for him to reach the kitten. 
But as he moved the car a little further forward, the rope broke.  The tree went  'BOING!' and the kitten instantly sailed through the air - completely out of sight!
Needless to say, the pastor felt terrible. He walked all over the neighborhood hunting for the animal, asking people if they'd seen a little kitten. Nobody had.  So he prayed, "Lord, I commit this kitten to your keeping," and went on about his business.
A few days later he was at the grocery store and met one of his church members. He happened to look into her shopping cart and was amazed to see cat food.  Now this woman was a cat hater and everyone knew it, so he asked her, "Why are you buying cat food when you hate cats so much?"
She replied, "You won't believe this, Pastor, but..." and then told him how her little girl had been begging her for a cat.  She kept refusing.  Then a few days before, the child had begged again, so the Mom finally told her little girl, "Well, if God gives you a cat, I'll let you keep it."
She told the pastor, "I watched my child go out in the yard, get on her knees, and ask God for a cat. And really, Pastor, you simply won't believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes. All of a sudden this kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky, with its little paws outspread, and landed right in front of her."
Lesson learned... Never underestimate the power of God and His unique sense of humor.
Five years ago today: Must See TV

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Money Minder

Many years ago a friend gave me a small combination coin purse/wallet/key case.  It was just big enough to hold a license and a couple of credit cards in the top zipper compartment and some folded up bills in the change section.  I decided it was the perfect size and weight for a travel wallet.  Last time I took a trip, though, I noticed the stitching was starting to pull away at the sides.  It was time to start looking for a replacement.

For months I looked around and couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.  Either the wallets were too big, too fancy, or way too expensive.  (I don't travel enough to justify a $40 wallet that I'd only use a couple of times a year.)  One day I was in a shop that was having a sale on Vera Bradley products, and I found what they called a Campus Double ID. It has two ID windows, a coin pocket on the back, and a few credit card slots inside.  I thought it might do for my needs.

The best part?  It was on clearance for only $10.

Five years ago today: Burn, Baby, Burn