Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Ten Dollar Word

Tonight I was sitting on the couch using my laptop, and Pepper the cat was laying on the couch next to me. All of a sudden I heard some loud rumblings coming from his general area and realized that it was his stomach gurgling!  I've never heard that happen before.

Pepper seemed to be a little embarrassed by all of the din coming from his body.  He jumped down from the couch and walked to the other side of the room, where he plopped down on the floor and glared at me.

Because I could, I immediately opened up a new browser tab and searched for "cat stomach gurgling". The first result of my search was the article Gurgling Sound in Cat's Stomach at Animalwised.  There I learned that the medical name for the sound was borborygmus.  That was actually more interesting to me than the actual causes of the problem, which could be anything from eating too fast to digestive tract disorders or inflammatory bowel disease. told me that, should I want to use the word in my next conversation, it was pronounced [bawr-buh-rig-muh s]. That's quite a mouthful.

Five years ago today: Cover Me

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Bountiful Biscuits

Hubby Tony was gone again today, attending a planning meeting for next month's prison retreat. Just like I did last time he was away, I made and froze a batch of cookies that he will take with him to the retreat.

Earlier in the week Christine posted a recipe for snickerdoodle cookies that she said was good, so I decided to try it.  The recipe was easy to put together, but it makes a lot of cookies.  (If you're not baking for a large group it might be a good idea to halve it.)  To cut down on washing of cookie sheets between batches I used every sheet that was in the cabinet--even the round pizza pans. By the time I was done the eight dozen cookies were cooling on every rack I owned, and I was even forced to pull out my shabby broiling rack to stack already-cooled ones.

Cookies ready to bag up.
At the end of the project, once again I bagged up the cookies in labeled quart sized Ziploc bags, a dozen to each bag. Now there are an additional eight dozen treats in my freezer ready to "go to prison" when it's time.

Five years ago today: Cats Like Sun, Too

Thursday, September 27, 2018

One Thing Leads To Another....

For the past week or so my scalp has been feeling dry and itchy, and my hair wasn't as shiny as I knew it could be.  Based on past experience I know those are symptoms of shampoo and conditioner build-up, which is easy to fix. After my trip to the gym today I decided to give my scalp an apple cider vinegar (ACV) treatment, which would get strip the gunk off and get everything back to normal. Besides, my gym shirt was sweaty and already needed to go into the laundry, so if it also picked up a vinegar smell it wouldn't matter.

Most things I've read recommend cutting the vinegar with water, but I've had good luck using it straight out of the bottle. I poured some ACV into a measuring cup, carefully dumped it on my scalp, massaged it in well, then let it sit for five minutes before I got into the shower. As I washed my body I could feel the scum rinsing off my my hair and scalp. The treatment had the desired scalp felt cleaner, and after my hair dried it was fluffy and shiny.

However, my scalp wasn't the only thing that got de-gunked by the apple cider vinegar.  When I looked down at the shower floor, there was a section where some soap scum had also loosened and washed away.
Can you see the clean section?
When I shower I use body wash, which doesn't leave a residue, but Hubby Tony uses bar soap. I really should do a better job of keeping the stall clean, but since I don't see well without my glasses (and of course shower without them) it's easy for me to ignore the grey scum on the brown floor. But today I had free time to tackle the problem, so I gathered my tools and ingredients and got started.

The first step was to douse the shower floor with plain white vinegar. I let that set for ten minutes, then came back with a scrubbing sponge. The sponge only removed some of the scum, so I got the container of baking soda and sprinkled a thick layer over the floor. As the two ingredients fizzed together I spread the paste around and walked away for an additional 15 minutes. This time the scum came up, and I washed it down the drain.

Now the shower floor is nice and clean, which makes the shower walls and glass doors look shabby. My next task will be to get some more vinegar and tackle that project.  Later.

Five years ago today: Operation Dust

Sunday, September 23, 2018

No More Stains

Hubby Tony and I attended a great Couples Retreat this weekend. Each year five couples plan the weekend, and each presents a talk based on their experience. After each talk there are small group discussion sessions. This year's topics were laughter, communication, partnership, getting through adversity as a couple, and spirituality. The schedule also includes time for general socializing, large group activities, and plenty of free time.

The retreat center bedrooms are plain but comfortable. The linens and towels they provide are the standard white hotel variety, but they're fluffy and large enough to completely cover your body. This year there was something new on the towel rack--two black washcloths designated specifically for removing makeup.  I guess the center got tired of replacing stained washcloths.

Five years ago today: Just A Little Creepy

Friday, September 21, 2018

Covering All Of The Clothes Bases

This is the weekend for the couple's retreat Hubby Tony and I have been attending for the past several years, and I'm really looking forward to it. After three years of helping to plan the event I get to go and just be a participant. I'll get to relax, catch up with all of the people I only see at this event, and eat lots of food that's not normally on my diet.

Fortunately, I think our abnormally hot weather is finally breaking. The temperature is down about ten degrees. The humidity is still oppressive, but that's supposed to be gone tomorrow too.  Just in case the weather people are wrong, though, my suitcase is packed like I'm going away for a week. It contains short sleeved/long sleeved shirts/fleece jacket, capris/shorts/jeans, and tennis shoes/sandals/flip flops.
ISL Collective

Five years ago today: Gah-run-teed

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What Is Your Hourly Rate?

That question is the topic of the website How Much Is Your Spare Time Worth?

The test has six questions about how you would prioritize your time in certain situations. Based on the information, it tells you what the value of one hour of your spare time is. And also provides an advertisement for Finn, a Norwegian classified advertisements company.

I obviously won't be taking the company up on their offer to help me find a painter, carpenter, or gardener, but the test got me thinking about just how much my spare time is worth, and how I can make the most of the time I have.

Five years ago today: Where To Eat?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Go Away, Already!

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

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

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

Five years ago today: No Seedlings Wanted!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wanted: Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five years ago today: Apple Pear

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Middle Of The Month

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

Five years ago today: Thanks For The Information

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Better Than An Exterminator

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

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

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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

In Lieu Of

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Secret Ingredient Is.....

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

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

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

Five years ago today: Choose Me!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Wow! Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 3, 2018

Emoji Fun

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

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

Five years ago today: The Bowels Of The Mall

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Downtown Fun

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

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


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

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

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

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