Saturday, December 29, 2018

Not Me!

When I go into a store for just a few things, I usually bring a reusable shopping bag with me. I hang the bag over my arm and put the items I want to buy inside the bag. At the checkout counter I dump everything on the counter, then hand the bag to the cashier so they can refill it as they scan the items.

Today when I was at a Walgreens store not too far from my house the cashier warned me not to do that any more. She said that the management was cracking down on shoplifters, and on a security camera it might look like I was trying to steal something.

Her comment floored me. I'm so honest, I'd never think about stealing an item.  But I guess unless a store associate personally knows me they might not recognize that. Now I'm going to have to retrain myself to grab a basket as I enter the store....and place my shopping bag in it before I start gathering the things on my list.

Five years ago today: An Accurate Description?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Repair Or Replace

Last week I was driving home from the gym when the check engine light on my trusty 2002 Honda CR-V came on. I pulled over as quickly as I could, then called AAA and had them tow it to the repair shop we've used for years. Later in the day I got the news that the car would need close to $1,000 worth of parts and repairs.


I told the shop I needed to figure out what I wanted to do and would call them back. A Google search for the phrase "Keep old car or buy new" offered about 2,360,000,000 results. I chose the article How to Decide Whether to Keep or Replace Your Car. After reading it I made a list of the pros and cons of keeping my current vehicle.

  • The car has been very reliable. Other than routine maintenance I haven't had to put much money into it.
  • I don't have a monthly payment, and it would be great to keep it that way.
  • Because of the age of the car the insurance and personal property taxes are low.
  • The body is still in pretty good shape. I'm not embarrassed to be seen in the car.
  • On an older vehicle there's no guarantee something else won't go wrong.
  • A newer model would probably get better gas mileage
  • January is a horrible time to replace a vehicle. That would mean I would be obligated to renew the license plate right after the holidays for as long as I had it...and years from now might have to spend big bucks in repair work to get it to pass the required safety and emissions inspection our state requires.
The repair shop said that if I had the work done my car should last for a long time,so in the end I authorized an immediate oil change and made an appointment to have the rest of it completed today. Right before dinner I got a call it was ready to be picked up. Driving home, the ride felt much smoother.

I'm glad I decided to stick with my old reliable wheels, but if I get the chance I think I'll start researching what else is out there. That way I'll have the information available if I need it.

Five years ago today: Petite Predicament

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Day After The Day

Usually on December 26th I don't have the energy to do much of anything, but this year it's different. Because we celebrated Christmas with the family early, the actual holiday was laid back and serene.

On Christmas Eve, instead of frantically running around trying to tie up all of the loose ends Hubby Tony and I leisurely completed a couple of errands together, then got lunch at a new-to-us Mediterranean restaurant. The original plan was to go to midnight Mass, but at the last minute we changed our mind and went in the late afternoon. Afterwards Son Donald joined us for a pizza and salad dinner. I started a pan of overnight oatmeal for brunch, then we watched TV until it was time to head for bed.

The next morning we got up when we felt like it. We had divided up the cooking chores for dinner and mid-morning Tony realized he was missing a couple of ingredients for his dish. The Oriental market close to the house was open, so we piled in the car for a field trip. Both Tony and Donald picked out some things they wanted, then we wandered around looking at all of the exotic packages. Our mid-afternoon meal of tamales, beans, rice, cole slaw, and guacamole really hit the spot. After things were cleaned up Tony and I took a walk. Later in the day I served dessert - baked pears with homemade dolce de leche sauce.

Five years ago today: Pizza For Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2018


December has flown by! I can't believe it's Christmas Eve already.

Today is the accounting day for my 2019 Advent of Gratitude challenge. When I completed the challenge last year I had no idea how all of the daily prompts would open my eyes to the everyday blessings I have in my life.  This year I had a knowledgeable head start, and I wasn't disappointed.

As the directions specified, today I added up all the money from the prompts. It came to $67.50. As I did last year I sent the proceeds to the Circle of Concern food pantry, which serves clients that live in the three school districts closest to my house.They do great work.

Five years ago today: Merry Christmas, 2013

Sunday, December 23, 2018


I've been using the Firefox browser on both my desktop and laptop computers for several years. I like it because it's fast, has a built-in spellcheck feature, and lets you sync across all of your devices.

Lately, when I've opened a new browser tab things things have looked different.  Then there used to be a grid of the sites I used the most, but now the page has a set of random articles "Recommended by Pocket".

I wondered what Pocket was.  A little research told me that the company is an application and web service for managing a reading list of articles from the Internet. It is owned by Mozilla, the developers of the Firefox web browser, so I guess it makes sense that it's being cross-promoted.

I've enjoyed reading the articles that show up on the page, and I've been introduced to some interesting websites.  There's an actual Pocket app that I haven't explored yet, but it sounds like it might be useful.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Cooking By The Seat Of My Pants

Over the last week we had a house full of people, and we ate well. There were Chinese, carryout pizza, and barbecue meals. For the big extended family get-together  I baked a turkey breast and pork loin roast, and cooked French Dip in the crock pot. I sliced it all for sandwiches, and served it on pretzel slider buns. For the non-meat eaters I made a main dish bean salad. Others brought a green salad, a potato casserole, and desserts.

Even though some of the earlier leftovers were consumed as the week went on, when things started returning to normal on Monday the refrigerator was still very full. That night Hubby Tony and I attended the Christmas party dinner for a club he belongs to. Neither one of us finished our food, so yet one more Styrofoam container got shoved into the refrigerator.

I hate to throw away food, so I've been getting creative with those leftovers.
  • Tuesday night I heated up the previous evening's extras (Tony's pork medallions and my breaded chicken with white wine sauce and mushrooms) and cut them each in two pieces so we could share. I roughly smashed the leftover baked potato, and nuked some frozen Normandy blend vegetables to serve with the protein and carbs.
  • Last night I combined the last of the French Dip au jus and partial containers of Hot and Sour and Egg Drop soup to make the liquid for a hearty soup. I bought a bag of bok choy at the Oriental market, chopped it up, and tossed it in to cook, then threw in the extra scallions and shredded carrots that I'd purchased for Sunday's bean salad.  When it was time to serve the dish I poured it over leftover rice.
  • Tonight's meal was loaded sweet potatoes. They were topped with a combination of leftover barbecue brisket, frozen mixed vegetables, sauteed onion and garlic, and assorted barbecue sauces.
Even though I've made a large dent in the extra food, there's still baked beans, rice, cheese, and yogurt to get rid of.  Not sure what exactly I'll do with them, but I'll think of something.

Five years ago today: Oy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Giving For The Sake Of Giving

I love this!
Son: "Dad, I think I'm old enough to know now. Is there a Santa Claus?" Not being the world's fastest thinker, I stalled for time.
Dad: "OK, I agree that you're old enough. But before I tell you, I have a question for you. You see, the truth is a dangerous gift. Once you know something, you can't un-know it. Once you know the truth about Santa Claus, you will never again understand and relate to him as you do now. So my question is...Are you sure you want to know?"  Brief pause.
Son: "Yes. I want to know."
Dad: "OK, I'll tell you: Yes, there IS a Santa Claus."
Son: "Really?"
Dad: "Yes, really, but he's not an old man with a beard in a red suit. That's just what we tell kids. You see, kids are too young to understand the true nature of Santa Claus, so we explain it to them in a way that they can understand. The truth about Santa Claus is that he's not a person at all; he's an idea. Think of all those presents Santa gave you over the years. I actually bought those myself. I watched you open them. And did it bother me that you didn't thank me? Of course not! In fact, it gave me great pleasure. You see, Santa Claus is THE IDEA OF GIVING FOR THE SAKE OF GIVING, without thought of thanks or acknowledgement.
Son: "Oh."
Dad: "So now that you know, you're part of it. You have to be Santa Claus too now. That means you can never tell a young kid the secret, and you have to help us select Santa presents for them, and most important, you have to look for opportunities to help people. Got it?"
~~Author unknown~~
Five years ago today: Something Different!

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Great Time Was Had

Things have been crazy busy at the house lately.  In anticipation of Son Donald crossing the graduation stage at Missouri S&T last Saturday, all of the family came in from out of town. For the past nine days people were coming and going, and it was hard to keep track of what day it was. The highlight of the weekend was Saturday, when we piled into cars for the trip to Rolla.
On Sunday we had our family Christmas celebration and a get-together with some of the extended family. Part of the out of towners left that night, and we took the rest to the airport today. While they were here I talked, laughed, played with Play-Doh, and cooked (some of the time with my favorite helper, Grandson Jay):
Checking on dinner
All in all it was a glorious time!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Chocolate Covered Anything Day

I celebrated....and celebrated.....and celebrated some more.  Now I don't feel so good!

Five years ago today: Fortunes

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Holiday Diversion

I've been having fun playing Snowman, which is a Christmas version of Hangman. The simple game has you guessing letters to make holiday words.  When you guess incorrectly, a part of a snowman pops up on the screen.  If the snowman is complete before you guess the word, you lose.

Five years ago today: Snowman, Snowman, Who's Got The Snowman?

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Search Is Over

In the spring of 2004 Son Tony was a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. When I visited him for the first Mom's weekend I bought a commemorative brick at a craft show that had the word Illini (for their football team, the Fighting Illini) in orange and blue, the school colors. When I got home I put the brick in the planting bed just outside the front door.

When Son Brian started classes at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I bought a Mizzou Tiger brick at one of the stores in town and placed it next to the first.

For years they were a set of two, but in 2016 when Son Donald began classes at Missouri University of Science and Technology (otherwise known as Missouri S&T) I started searching around for a school brick to go with the others. The only things I could find with the school logo were clothes. Nothing else. Not even online! Finding the elusive brick turned into somewhat of an obsession.

Earlier this fall Hubby Tony and I made a Homecoming Weekend trip to Rolla to attend a downtown business district craft fair. Once again I came up empty handed, but when I walked into a stained glass store I saw a display of large stepping stones that were similar to what I was looking for. I got the owner's contact information and after exchanging a series of emails with him, four weeks later I made another trip to Rolla to pick up my custom made brick.

The set is now complete

Five years ago today: Getting The Hang Of It

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Tasty Tribute

You're probably aware that George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, passed away on November 30th. His funeral was today, and in his honor Hubby Tony had the day off.  I had several errands and work commitments first thing in the morning, but when I got home Tony was watching the broadcast on TV. After I finished my paperwork I joined in. Eventually we got hungry and decided to go out to lunch, listening to the ceremony on the radio in the car.

Tony and I had done some pre-planning to figure out a way to make our meal a Presidential tribute. A web search led me to an article on Delish about favorite Presidential foods, where I learned that George H. W. Bush put hot sauce on everything "just like a good ole boy from Texas". I often eat food with built-in heat or add sauce to spice it up so I could relate.

We ended up at a restaurant that featured hamburger sliders and other miniature sandwiches.  As we often do, Tony and I decided to split our food half and half. He ordered a salad, and I chose three sandwiches...a traditional slider, a Hot Chicken slider, and a Philly sandwich. (We did NOT get anything with broccoli, because of the President's stated hatred for it. He said during a news conference in 1990 "I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it." He  went on to say, "And I'm president of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli.")

When the food came we requested a bottle of Tabasco, and used it liberally. Here's to you, President.

Five years ago today: Dogsitting

Monday, December 3, 2018

Have You Seen It?

The other day I was using the rest room in a grocery store. When I reached over to get some toilet paper I noticed a dark blue leather folio phone case laying on top of the paper holder. The case had several slots on the back to hold charge cards, but the slots were empty.

I opened up the case to take a look at the phone, but  it was locked with a pass code. I was in a hurry and didn't have time to try to find any contact information. This store doesn't have a Customer Service desk, so I decided to turn the phone in to the cashier.

However, if it was me backtracking to find a phone I misplaced somewhere, I would be even more frantic to not find it where I thought I had left it. So I got a length of paper towel from the holder and wrote that I had turned the phone in. I left the note in the exact same place the phone had been. That way if the person would know what the next step was.

Five years ago today: (Not Quite) A Partridge In A Pear Tree

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Another Advent Of Gratutude

Once again this year I'm going to participate in An Advent of Gratitude, a month long challenge to help me remember to be grateful for what I have.

The background of the event, from their Facebook page:
Most Advent calendars present us with a gift each day leading up to Christmas. The purpose of this Advent of Gratitude is to remind us of the gifts we already have, what we often take for granted, what we can and should be grateful for. Each daily reminder includes a suggestion for payment, a small monetary gift that in 24 days will grow into a donation, payable to a charity of your choice.

At the end of this challenge, please donate to a charity, preferably somewhere local, that serves those less fortunate than you.
Here is the 2018 list.  Unlike last year, this time I will not be doing a daily blog rundown. Instead, I invite you to follow the list on your own (or even better, 'Like' the Advent of Gratitude page yourself).
  1. When you woke up this morning was “What to wear?” a decision? If yes, pay $2.
  2. Have you experienced a natural disaster in which you felt unsafe? If no, pay $3.
  3. Pay $1 for each vehicle owned by yourself or someone who lives in your home.
  4. Do you pay a monthly subscription to anything? If yes, pay $4.
  5. This may seem personal but … count the number of undergarments in your drawer(s). Pay .10 per garment.
  6. What’s in your wallet? Pay .50 per credit or debit card.
  7. Did you listen to music today? That’s worth at least $2!
  8. If you, and/or those in your family who need them, have access to feminine hygiene products, pay $3.
  9. Did you pay property taxes in 2018? If yes, pay $4. More than one property? Multiply!
  10. In 2017, we counted light switches. Today count electrical outlets. Too many? Pay $5.
  11. Look in your cupboards. Count coffee cups/tea cups. Pay .10 per cup.
  12. Do you worry about having clean water to drink, bathe, or wash with? If no, pay $2.
  13. Do you (or did you) have access to birth control when you wanted or needed it? If yes, pay $3.
  14. Look in your jewelry box(es). Any real gold or silver? If yes, pay $3.
  15. Did you go to the dentist this year? If yes, pay $3.
  16. Count the bottles of shampoo, soap, conditioner in your home. Pay .10 per bottle.
  17. If there is sporting equipment in your home or garage, pay $4. Went to a professional sporting event in 2018? Double that!
  18. If you bought lettuce or watermelon this week pay $2. If more than once, pay $4.
  19. Think about how you get from your work to your home? Do you feel safe? If yes, pay $3.
  20. Open your closets and count purses/handbags. Men, count your ties/belts. Pay .25 each.
  21. When was your last vacation? In 2018? If yes, pay $4.
  22. Do you have easy access to local, national and international news? If yes, pay $2.
  23. Do you own tools for house repair? If yes, pay $3.
  24. If you have more people who love you than you can count on your fingers, pay $5.