Friday, October 30, 2015

Too Soon! Go Away!

The Major League Baseball post-season has been going on for almost a month. In that time we've had at least part of most of the games on. (Hubby Tony watches pretty intently.  Me, not so much).

During these games they tend recycle the same set of commercials over and over. Since early October I've seen the commercials for prescription drugs, cars, car insurance, and online fantasy sports way too many times.  Tonight was no exception. I was minding my own business, sitting on the couch in the family room playing with my laptop and halfway paying attention to the TV.  Until a new commercial demanded my attention. It was a holiday ad!

In my perfect world retailers wouldn't promote Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but I'm not in charge and they don't listen to me. However, there was something particularly annoying about seeing references to a winter holiday during a summer sport.

Five years ago today:  Corny

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy National Chocolate Day!

This morning the Internet told me that today (October 28th) was National Chocolate Day. NO WAY was I going to pass up celebrating this one!

After lunch I had some business in a mall that has a Godiva chocolate store. Because I'm a member of their Rewards Club I can get a free piece of chocolate every month.  I hadn't gotten my October benefit yet.


Cookie dough truffle

Five years ago: Trick or Treat!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crazy Legs

Isn't this carrot cute?  This afternoon I pulled it out of vegetable drawer of the refrigerator:

I think it looks like the lower half of a person from the waist down with a short torso and two legs. When I saw it I immediately thought of Betsy. She often sees faces in her food.

Five years ago today: Time Is Running Out...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nooch Me

A couple of interesting recipes I've seen lately have called for nutritional yeast, which was a new-to-me ingredient. A little research showed me that nutritional yeast (or 'nooch') is used in a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes.  It's a strain of yeast that's grown on a food source, then harvested, heated, dried, and crumbled into flakes or powder.  I also learned that nutritional yeast is high in protein and has a mildly nutty and cheesy flavor.  Two weeks ago when I was at my local Whole Foods I bought a small quantity from the bulk section to have on hand for when inspiration hit.

Today was that day.  I was busy with work projects and activities, and forgot to think about dinner until mid-afternoon.  When I opened the refrigerator to see what it held I realized I forgot to make a grocery and produce run yesterday.  The shelves were pretty bare other than a package of raw broccoli (about a pound's worth), a small handful of blanched cauliflower, a half of a red onion, and a couple of cups of leftover brown rice.  I suspected I could meld them together with some kind of sauce incorporating the nutritional yeast.  A Google search with those ingredients gave me my inspiration recipe for Broccoli and Cauliflower with Vegan 'Cheese' Sauce.  With the addition of the rice I was able to turn the side dish into a main dish casserole

I cut the broccoli (both florets and stems) into bite-sized pieces and cooked it in the microwave until crisp-tender, then threw in the cauliflower.  While the vegetables cooked I chopped the onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and sauteed them for five minutes, then added water, nutritional yeast, and spices and heated to boiling. (At the last minute I decided there wasn't enough sauce, so I doubled the water and nutritional yeast.)  The last step was to make a slurry of olive oil and flour and stir it into the pot to thicken the mixture.  I dumped the rice on top of the vegetables, added the sauce, and stirred it up until it was well mixed.  Put it into a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until everything was hot, and put it on the table.

There was no leftovers. I think the nutritional yeast was a hit.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Totally Random

Did you know that the sidebar on the main page of Wikipedia has a link that will take you to one of their 4,995,452 random articles? Tonight I wasted part of an evening spent some quality time learning facts about things that for the most part I didn't know existed. Some of the highlights:
  • High Mowing School is the oldest Waldorf high school in Canada or the United States, and the only Waldorf boarding school in the United States.
  • The Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science is based in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and has an international reputation in theoretical computer science, mathematical logic and category theory.
  • Chenaran, Nishapur is a village in Zeberkhan Rural District, Zeberkhan District, Nishapur County, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran. which had a population of 1,660 in 2006.
  • IchirĊ Terao served as the Chairman of the National Board of Governors of the Boy Scouts of Japan. He was was awarded the 174th Bronze Wolf for exceptional services to world Scouting in 1985.
  • Encelia virginensis a North American species of flowering plants in the daisy family known by the common name Virgin River brittlebush which is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico,
Five years ago today: See You Later, Alligator

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Taste Of Fall

For the past two weeks I've had two nice-sized Halloween pumpkins on the kitchen island. They look nice there, but this location is just temporary.  Because the front door faces west I can't put them on the porch yet.  If I do the afternoon sun will make them rot before Halloween.

Yesterday the high temperature was 84° and it still felt like summer. Overnight a cold front came through and the weather turned fall-like.  The blustery winds that blew dead leaves through a cloud-filled sky got me in the mood for pumpkin-cooked something, and I decided to sacrifice one of the pumpkins to the cause.  After cutting, seed scooping, roasting, rind removing, pulp processing, draining, and packaging the freezer now holds four full bags of pumpkin puree (plus another partial bag) as well as a container of pumpkin liquid.  There's also a plastic container of roasted pumpkin seeds in the pantry.

After all that work the pumpkin-cooked something will have to wait until later.

pumpkin puree
Five years ago today: Feature Attraction

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Way To Show You Care

Yesterday I got an email from a member of a church group which said that a young pregnant woman in the parish was having some problems and had been put on bed rest. The author of the message indicated she'd set up a calendar through CareCalendar to coordinate meals and other help for the family.

An 'online care calendar' was new to me, but it sounded like a good idea.  Years ago, the system was different.  If someone needed help one person was in charge of coordinating things.  She assigned the days, let everyone know who was bringing what (to make sure there was a variety of dishes), and followed up with a reminder to make sure the meal was going to be delivered.  It was a lot of work for the organizer

When I logged in with the ID number and password. the calendar showed the days meals were needed and the days that had already been taken (along with what that person was bringing).  All of the needed information was there-the family's address, phone number, dietary preferences, and what time they'd like the food delivered.  I noticed that no one had volunteered for today or tomorrow, so I called to see what the family's plans were.  The woman said she had a casserole in reserve her husband was going to reheat.  I told her I was making a pot of chili for my own dinner tonight; would she like me to bring some to her?  She said she would.

Since my food wasn't being eaten tonight.I could drop it off on my schedule.  While the chili was cooking I microwaved apple wedges with lemon juice and cinnamon.  When everything was ready I scooped some chili into an empty yogurt container, poured the apples into a plastic to-go container, then set both in a bag.  The family didn't live too far away from my house, so it only took seven minutes to make the delivery.

Five years ago today: Shine On

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fixing A Hole

Yesterday I started watering our newly-sowed grass seed and discovered the hose had sprung a leak.  I was on a tight time frame and didn't have time to stop everything and go to the store for a replacement (besides, it's a quality hose and.didn't just want to throw it away). However, the problem didn't go away by itself; as I moved the sprinkler around the yard I noticed there was more and more water coming from the leak.  After I finished the job and put everything away I changed my clothes and headed towards my local big box hardware location to see if they had anything that would fix the problem.

In the hose department they had several options, ranging in price from just under two dollars to just over ten.  As I stood there pondering the array, a store associate came up and asked if I needed help.  He was very helpful, telling me the cheapest plastic mender had been working in one of his hoses for four years.  Based on his recommendation I made my purchase.

The mending kit had three pieces-a black plastic tube that slid into the hose pieces and two clamps (one for either end of the tube) that held it in place. The repair steps sounded simple enough: cut out the damaged section, slide a clamp on each piece, shove the tube into the pieces as far as it would go, slide the clamps up until they were over the tube, and tighten them securely.

After lunch it was time for Operation Hose Repair.  I gathered my equipment--a pair of kitchen shears to cut the hose and a Phillips screwdriver.  Before I went outside I loosened the screws on both of the couplers, then put everything in a custard cup so it wouldn't get lost.  When I got outside  I turned the hose on to find the exact spot it was leaking, then marked it by setting the kitchen shears next to it while I turned the water back off.  The scariest part of the whole job was cutting into the hose, knowing that if I made a mistake I'd ruin it.  However, once that was done the rest was easy.  Son Donald was in the garage, and I pressed him into service to maneuver the hose on the tube the last little bit and hold it there until  I tightened the clamps

Once the job was finished I attached the hose to the sprinkler, crossed my fingers, and turned on the water. My repair worked!  There were no leaks.

finished product
Five years ago today: I'm So Excited

Friday, October 16, 2015

Next Year's Lawn Starts Now‎

It's been about five years since our yard has had professional care, and it shows. At least half of the green stuff is weeds of one sort or another. In an effort to improve the turf on our estate, last week  we had lawn renovation work done.

My original plan for the yard was far less complex. It was to have a load of compost delivered so Hubby Tony and I could spread it ourselves. We ran out of time and energy to do that, so I contacted our local composting company to get a list of lawn service companies they recommended. They gave me names, and I requested estimates from them.

When they came out to do the estimates, the company representatives were nice enough not to laugh at our scraggly yard. They did indicate that it needed a lot more than just a layer of compost. When one of them mentioned it could take years to get a nice looking lawn, (which could add a substantial amount to the price we could ask should we decided to put the house on the market) Tony and I decided to let them do core aeration and overseeding work and addition to the topdressing.

Two days before the work was scheduled I spent the day watering the very dry soil. The next day Tony mowed the grass short. When the lawn company came, their first step was to use the core aeration machine to relieve the soil compaction. Next, they top dressed the lawn. The last step was to spread seed over the entire area. Then they left. The rest of the work turf renovation work was on Tony and me.

For the grass to germinate it had to be kept moist. We did that by lightly sprinkling it twice a day. For the last week one of us has been out there in the late morning after the dew dried up, and again in the afternoon shortly before or right after dinner. Each sprinkling took about 40 minutes, but I found it very therapeutic.

Yesterday I noticed a few tiny green sprouts, and there were even more today. Now we'll be able to switch to a sprinkler and water less frequently, but a little deeper. If Mother Nature doesn't send us rain, we'll be keeping the job up until it gets too cold for grass to grow. It will still be a chore to move the sprinkler on a regular basis, but I bet before long even that task will be part of the schedule.

Five years ago today: Vegetation

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Operation Exercise

It's now been a couple of days shy of six weeks since I had a procedure to repair an abdominal hernia.  The procedure was easy, but the recuperation has taken longer than I anticipated.  Up until last week the incision still hurt after exertion, but this week I really feel like I've turned the corner.  In honor of that, today I went to the gym.

The weeks before my surgery were a flurry of activity as I got ready to be out of commission. With not enough time to do everything, exercise was the first thing to go.  My gym has a wide range of classes to choose from, but I decided that piyoga would be a good way to ease back into things.  The combination of yoga and Pilates movements were slow enough that I could do as much as I felt comfortable with and modify things as needed.  This morning I dug my membership card out of the depths of my purse and made sure my water bottle was in the car before I left the house.

Before the class started I told the instructor why I might modify a position (or even get up and leave if it ended up being too much).  I spread my mat out on the floor, attempted to sit cross legged on it, and I realized a lot of my flexibility was gone.  As soon as we started doing the first set of stretches some of the flexibility started coming back, which felt marvelous.

Not surprisingly, the hardest moves for me to do were ones that used my ab muscles.  When everyone else was doing a plank on their elbows and toes, mine was on my elbows and knees.  My down dog was as sick as a dog, and my boat looked like it was going to sink.  The back bend was non-existent, more just looking at the ceiling without bending back.

When I was done my abdomen was sore, but in a good way.  The muscles were telling me they'd received the message it was time for them to start shaping up again.  Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I may go back to the gym and take another class.  We'll see.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Field Trip To IKEA

Hubby Tony was off today for the Columbus Day holiday.  Since most people had to work, we decided it would be a good day to check out the new St. Louis IKEA that opened a couple of weeks ago.  Although we were wrong about the number of folks that had a vacation day (and the store was very busy) we still had fun.

When we arrived there were quite a few cars turning off the street into the parking lot, but there were people stationed along the road directing traffic to ensure that everything moved smoothly. From the parking lot we followed the crowd through the front door and up the escalator, where an associate was handing out store maps. Clutching our maps, we followed the signs and the arrows on the floor to make our way through the maze-like showroom, admiring the room displays (and trying to stay out of the way of all the other people who were doing the same thing).

At the end of the showroom area we stopped for a bathroom break. As we walked by the cafeteria we noticed the humongous lines of people waiting to get food and decided we were glad to have eaten lunch before we got there. We took the stairs down to the Marketplace and continued wandering, then scooted through the warehouse area.

Based on the crowded parking lot and the number of people in the store I had told Tony there was NO WAY we were going to buy anything today. However, when we got to the end and saw the checkout lines weren't too long we decided to go back and get a duvet cover we'd admired. Rather than completely backtracking we took one of the shortcuts to the textile department. Once we knew we were committed, we backtracked even further and picked up some sturdy-looking glass tumblers and a couple of do-dads, then returned to the checkout area.

The checkout line may have been relatively short, but the line for the cafe wasn't. We had spent about two hours in the store and were ready to leave, so we passed on the cinnamon rolls and followed yet another crowd to the exit. On the way out of the parking lot we decided our next trip could wait until the initial opening crowds had really died down.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Noah And The Next Ark

An oldie but goodie for your Sunday reading pleasure...
The Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in America, and said, "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save 2 of every living thing along with a few good humans."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark. "Noah!," He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed."

"First I needed a Building Permit. I've also been arguing with the Boat Inspector about the need for a sprinkler system."

"My Homeowners Association claims that I've violated the neighborhood by-laws by building the Ark in my back yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the local Planning Committee for a decision."
"Then the City Council and the Electricity Company demanded a shed load of money for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear none of it."

"Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the Greater Spotted Barn Owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls - but no go!"

"When I started gathering the animals, PETA took me to court. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space."

"Then the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on Your proposed flood."

"I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building crew."
"The Immigration Department is checking the visa status of most of the people who want to work. The labor unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only union workers with ark-building experience."

"To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species."

"So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"

"No," said the Lord. "The Government beat me to it."
Five years ago today: Safe Seat

Friday, October 9, 2015

Older Than I Look?

Today my job was to evaluate a Medicare plan sales presentation.  I won't be eligible myself until 2024.

When I asked Hubby Tony if he thought I looked old enough to blend in he said he didn't think so.  (Smart man!)  I haven't tried to look older than my age since the late 1970s, when the goal was to get into clubs, so I needed some advice.  A Google search for 'trying to look older' yielded millions of results.  I went four pages back and all but one of them targeted people in their teens and 20s.  Not exactly the demographic I was looking for.  Finally, in a post about fashion habits that make you look older, I learned that wearing ill-fitting clothes was one of the worst things you could do.   

This morning I dressed in a pair of baggy baggy elastic waist pants that have seen better days, a loose-fitting red polo shirt and comfort shoes.  It was chilly when I left the house, so I grabbed a light jacket (which just happened to be purple) and I decided with that color combination it would be OK if someone thought I was going to a Red Hat affair.

I worried all the way to the event that someone would 'out' me for being too young.  However, I had nothing to worry about.  As a matter of fact, the man sitting next to me wanted to ask me questions about the plan I currently had, so I fooled at least one person.

Five years ago today: The Long Climb

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Skeleton Car

I saw this car while I was out walking today. Do you think it's legal to drive with skeletons in your car?  Is the answer is different if they're wearing seat belts?

Five years ago today: By The Time I Get to Phoenix

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ten Minutes At A Time

Later this week we're having some lawn renovation work done. It hasn't rained for a couple of weeks, so the company asked us to give the grass a good watering ahead of time to make sure the soil was moist to make their soil preparation work easier and more effective. Our clay-heavy soil absorbs water slowly, so the plan was to run the sprinkler in each area about ten minutes, then repeat the whole procedure to make sure the water soaked in and didn't run down the sewer.

Hubby Tony is the main grass caretaker, but yesterday afternoon while he was at work I decided to get the watering job started. I found the fancy sprinkler on a shelf in the garage and attached it to the hose, then set it in a far corner of the back yard.  Once the sprinkler was in place I walked back to the faucet and turned it on. The result wasn't encouraging. Instead of oscillating gracefully from side to side, the sprinkler arm moved halfway, then got stuck. I tried moving the dials in different directions, but nothing worked.

Feeling frustrated, I sent Tony a text telling him he'd have to look at the sprinkler when he got home from work. He did, and moved all of the dials again, and got the same result. With the large sprinkler out of commission we changed over to a stationary sprinkler that Tony uses to water the smaller areas of the yard. It works well, but only covers an area about five feet by five feet. Our yard is about a third of an acre.

Last night I moved the sprinkler until it got too dark outside to see.  This morning I started the project about 7 AM, right after I came downstairs.  Except for the two hours I was out running errands I watered until the job was done at about 6 PM.  Thanks to all the sprinkler moving I had no problem getting my steps in today.

On his lunch hour Tony went to the hardware store and bought a sturdy metal oscillating sprinkler. We've tried it and figured out it will cover a much larger area. Good thing, because once grass seed is sown we'll have to keep it moist until it germinates.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Do Not Engage

Hubby Tony and I follow the same procedure when a call comes in on our phone.  When it rings we look at the incoming number. If we don't recognize the number, we don't answer. A legitimate caller will leave a voice mail, and we'll return the call.  That screens out the vast majority of rubbish.

However, sometimes junk still slips through. For example, today there have been three messages from the same number. Each time the message is a robotic voice claiming to be from the IRS threatening us with legal action.  For what, it doesn't say.  The whole thing is very amateurish.  It starts out by saying:
"The IRS is filing a lawsuit against...[this is where a professional organization would insert a name to personalize the message. This time there's an extended silence, then...] you. For more information on case file call immediately on our department number XXX-XXX-XXXX."
Of course, I ignored the message and immediately deleted it. There have been so many print, TV and radio announcements about scams like this I can't believe anyone would fall for it at this point.  However, I guess they wouldn't keep doing it if there wasn't at least some type of response.

Five years ago today: Fall Recollections

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pampering For Pussycats

I popped into my local pet store yesterday for some cat hairball medicine and a new litter scoop.  I had time to spare, so I also had fun browsing up and down the feline 'accessories' aisle, looking at what was there.

We love our two cats, and they live a very good life, but (based on what I saw) the manufacturers and merchandisers would tell us we're not pampering them enough.  They don't have designer dishes to eat and drink out of, and their litter boxes are simple.  There are no dedicated cat beds in the house.  (Not because we haven't tried--we have-- but the cats have always snubbed them.  They prefer to think of the entire house as their bedroom).

Some of the things I saw:
  • Food and water bowls plain and fancy, dry food feeders automatic and gravity-operated, and water fountains with recirculators and aerators.
  • Placemats in multiple sizes, colors, and materials to keep food crumbs and water dribbles off the floor.
  • Litter boxes with privacy hoods to protect kitty from prying eyes while he's doing his business and self-cleaning models that didn't have to be scooped.
  • Special mats to lay next to those litter boxes for Kitty to wipe his paws on as he exits the area.
  • A small selection of Halloween costumes (which I know our cats are thankful not to have.)
Five years ago today: I Can't Drive 55

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Post 1600

Tonight when I logged into my Blogger dashboard I discovered that a huge milestone had snuck up on me. On September 29th I wrote the 1600th post on this blog!

When I started my blogging adventure in 2009, it never occurred to me that someday I'd hit a mile marker like this.

Five years ago today: It's A Jungle In Here!