Thursday, February 28, 2019

How Much Is Enough?

This weekend I volunteered to chair the Hospitality Room for a group meeting that starts Friday night and ends Sunday just before lunch. The approximately 60 meeting attendees are coming from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. A few are flying in, but the majority are driving.

The budget for the event was adequate, but not extravagant. I spent considerable time researching options for food and paper products, and developed a shopping list that cherry picked the best deals at three different stores.

I thought I had everything under control. And then Mother Nature stepped in.

Coming our way
All of that purple in the Midwest is today's weather- a mixture of sleet and freezing rain.Tomorrow should be fine, but then another event--this time snow--is predicted for Saturday night into Sunday morning . Depending on what source you listen to, we could get somewhere between 2-8 inches. Based on the forecast, last night people started cancelling their meeting attendance. Today I've received a steady stream of emails from the meeting chair to keep me updated. As of 1:00 pm 18 people had indicated they wouldn't be coming, and the chair expects there will be more.

I had purchased the paper products earlier in the week (buying heavy because I knew I could return any unopened packages), but because of my schedule today had to be Buy Perishables day. My carefully curated grocery list got halved, or for some items cut even more. After lunch I went to Aldi and came home with snack foods and breakfast items, crossing my fingers that I didn't overbuy.

And if by some crazy coincidence I didn't get enough? There's a grocery store right across the street from the meeting venue.

Five years ago today: The Random Acts Of Kindness Adventure #4

Monday, February 25, 2019

Perking Up Parsley

Over the weekend Hubby Tony and I went to a pot luck. Our section of the alphabet was asked to bring a side dish, and after some consultation with Tony I decided to make a chickpea salad. In addition to the chickpeas, the dish had colored peppers (red, yellow, and orange, because why not?), garlic, kalamata olives, green onions, tomatoes, and chopped fresh parsley, all tossed with a lemony dressing.

I bought the ingredients the day before I needed them.The morning of the potluck I prepped everything and mixed it together. After I put the salad into a bowl I wanted to add a sprig of parsley on top for decoration. When I took a good look at the extra stems, I realized they were pretty sad looking. Fortunately I knew a solution.

I got out a deep coffee mug, put a couple of inches of water in the bottom, and placed the parsley stems in like a bouquet of flowers. Two hours later they had revived enough that I was able to get my sprig, but 24 hours later the stems were looking pretty perky.

Before water                                               and after

Five years ago today: Keywords Unavailable

Friday, February 22, 2019

Changing It Up

Today was gloomy and chilly...and a good day for soup. When I looked in the pantry to see what was there I decided a hearty lentil soup made in my Instant Pot is what would be for dinner.

Son Brian was the first person in the family to get an Instant Pot, and he gave me one last year. Since then we've shared recipes and tips back and forth. Very early on I made an Indian-inspired lentil soup recipe which used both brown and red or yellow lentils. (The colorful ones took less time to cook and fell apart before the brown ones were done, which made the finished dish wonderfully thick.) I told Brian; he made the recipe and liked it so much it went into his regular cooking rotation. He even started making up batches of a seasoning mix to have on hand, then shared the information with Son Donald, who shared it with me:

Turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin, black pepper,
onion powder, and garlic
Today, though, I was in the mood for Mexican, and I wondered why I couldn't spice the basic soup differently. I Googled 'Mexican lentils' and cobbled together portions of three different recipes. My dish started with onions, lots of garlic, and three types of lentils (brown, yellow, and red because why not?). After I sauteed the vegetables and tossed in the lentils I added broth, half of a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, then seasoned with pepper, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. I closed up the Instant Pot and cooked everything for 20 minutes.

When the soup was done I served it up with tortilla chips to continue the Mexican theme. It was so good I forgot to take a photo!

Five years ago today: Welcom-er

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Nothing But The Facts

Factslides is a website that takes random facts and converts them into slideshows for "students, teachers and curious minds". All of the facts are verified, and you can click through to the source material.

I was sitting on the couch tonight with  a cat on my lap, scrolling from slide to slide, and this is the one that struck my fancy:

Five years ago today: Don't Tell Her, She Doesn't Want To Know

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hurts So Good

On Thursday nights Hubby Tony and I are attending a workshop series at our church. Since last Thursday was Valentine's Day we decided to put off our celebration until today when Tony was off work for President's Day.

Tony took charge of the plans. Yesterday he shared them with me, saying he had made made massage appointments for us at a spa located in the small Chinatown area of town. I was excited; I haven't had a massage for a very long time, and never with Tony!

We left the house mid-morning for the 20-minute drive. If we hadn't been looking closely we would have gone right by the nondescript storefront in the middle of a small strip mall. When we entered the owner greeted us, then turned us over to a masseur (for me) and a masseuse (for Tony). We passed through a curtain into a large, dimly lit communal room with of towel-covered chairs arranged along the long walls. Each chair had a large ottoman in front of it. Soft, soothing music was playing.

The first stop was the changing room, where we changed into shorts (and a tank top for me). Back in the massage room we were directed to sit in chairs next to each other. A container of water had been set in between the chair and ottoman, and my masseur indicated I should put my feet into it. He reclined the back of my chair, then the bliss began. Over the next hour I don't think there was a part of my body that didn't get attention!

This was a deep pressure style massage. The masseur really put his body weight into it. After he gave my face, scalp, shoulders, and arms attention, he removed the container of water and moved the ottoman next to the chair so I could lay my legs on it. My legs and feet got their turn, then he put the back of the chair completely down so I could turn over for the back of my body. I was in heaven.

All too soon the hour was over. Tony and I changed back into our street clothes, paid, and left. It was time for lunch. Within a mile there were more than a dozen Chinese restaurants. We picked one that looked good. It was, and a great way to continue our time together.

Five years ago today: Just Me

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Great Grate

A while back, Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen (a wonderful source for vegetarian and vegan recipes, with an emphasis on Indian food) had a giveaway. After the contest closed, Lisa emailed me and let me know that I was one of the lucky winners. I gave her my mailing address and promptly forgot about the whole thing.

Two days ago a package showed up on my front porch. I opened up the envelope and found my prize...a Deiss PRO Citrus Zester and Cheese Grater!

All in all this looks like a quality kitchen implement. The grating surface is twice as large as my old micro plane, and looks like it will be much easier to clean. There's a sturdy plastic cover to snap over the sharp-looking stainless steel blade. The handle is large, nonslip, and fits well in my hand.

 I can't wait to use my new toy.

Five years ago today: Presidential

Thursday, February 14, 2019

SO Appropriate For Valentine's Day!

This was today's thought in my page-a-day calendar:

The slogan was new to me. I must be the last person on Earth to know about it, though, because when I searched for the phrase Google gave me 'about' 1,010,000,000 results. I wonder if the person who put together the calendar consciously chose this phrase or if it was a happy coincidence?

Five years ago today: The Random Acts Of Kindness Adventure #2

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cover An Owie In Style

Last month I was shopping in a store devoted to lifestyle and pop culture reference items. I had to buy something, and these kitten-shaped bandages came home with me:

I showed my purchase to everyone who was around the house at the time. They all oohed, aahed, and said "How unique". I put the box in the hall closet, and waited for an excuse to use them. That came today. After I got out of the shower I had a tiny irritated spot on my thigh, and covered it with a cute little kitten to stop my jeans from making things worse.

Not only did the bandage make the pain go away, it caught my eye every time I used the bathroom.

Five years ago today: Brotherly Love

Monday, February 11, 2019

No Good Deed Goes Unrewarded

Written by someone else...but I don't know who...
A guy arrives at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter is reading through the Big Book to see if the guy's name is written in it. After several minutes, St. Peter closes the book, furrows his brow, and says, "I'm sorry, I don't see your name written in the Book."

"How current is your copy?" the man asks.

"I get a download every ten minutes," St. Peter replies. "Why do you ask?"

"I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I was always the stubborn type. It was not until my death was imminent that I cried out to God, so my name probably hasn't arrived to your copy yet."

"I'm glad to hear that," St. Peter says. "But while we're waiting for the update to come through, can you tell me about a really good deed that you did in your life?"

The guys thinks for a moment and says, "Hmm, well there was this one time when I was driving down a road and I saw a group of biker gang members harassing a woman. I slowed down, and sure enough, there they were, about 20 of them harassing the poor woman. Infuriated, I got out my car, grabbed a tire iron out of my trunk, and walked up to the leader of the gang. He was a huge guy - 6 feet 4 inches, 260 pounds, with a studded leather jacket and a chain running from his nose to his ears. As I walked up to the leader, the bikers formed a circle around me and told me to get lost or I'd be next."

"So I ripped the leader's chain out of his face and smashed him over the head with the tire iron. Then I turned around and yelled to the rest of them, 'Leave this poor innocent woman alone! You're all a bunch of SICK, deranged animals! Go home before I really teach you a lesson in PAIN!'"

St. Peter, duly impressed, says "Wow! When did this happen?"

"About three minutes ago."

Saturday, February 9, 2019

National Pizza Day

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I learned that today was National Pizza Day. Hubby Tony and I were already planning to go out to dinner tonight after church, and he quickly agreed that pizza would be a great choice.

Many of the chain pizza restaurants had deals for the 'holiday', but we wanted something better than chain pizza. We're lucky to have many independent restaurants in the area. First we decided on a neighborhood that had a lot of places to eat, then we found a church near to it that had a convenient Mass time.

When we got out of church I used Yelp to research the nearby pizza restaurants. There were four non-chain options. We picked one that we hadn't been to before and drove there. It turns out that the restaurant had a National Pizza Day special--a large pizza for the price of a small. We ordered a "Special" and a House salad at the cashier, then found a table and waited for our food.

The salad came out a couple of minutes later. It was a nice combination of lettuce topped with red onions, pimentos, artichokes, green olives, Provel cheese, tomatoes, and croutons. Right after we finished the salad the St. Louis style pizza arrived. As expected, it had a very thin cracker-like crust, was topped with sausage, bacon, onion, hamburger, green pepper, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, and Provel cheese, and was cut into square slices.

We ate until we were full, and still had plenty to bring home for lunch tomorrow. I love 'holidays'!

generic St. Louis style pizza - Wikipedia

Five years ago today: It's Amazing What Happens When You Stop Looking

Friday, February 8, 2019

Bring On The Light!

When my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning I growled, then rolled over and turned it off. Then I remembered that tomorrow is Saturday and I wouldn't need an alarm. My day suddenly got better.  It was easier to roll myself out of bed and make the bed I just left.

After the bed was made I noticed the room was a little lighter than it usually is. When I looked out of the east-facing windows of my two story house I observed the sky had the tiniest little pink tinge to it. Daylight! I hadn't seen it at that time of day for months.  By the time I got out of the shower it was almost light enough to pick out my socks without turning on a light.

The downstairs kitchen windows face east, too, but it wasn't until after I finished breakfast that the sun made it over the two-story house behind us and brightened up the room. It was so nice to be able to do the rest of my morning activities in the natural light.

This evening Hubby Tony and I had dinner shortly after he got home at 5:00. Today, for the first night in a long time, we could eat without turning on the overhead light. (By the time we were finished, though, we were sitting in a darkened room, but we didn't let that bother us.)

The longer day makes sense. Groundhog Day,  the exact halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. was last weekend. So now we're incrementally more than halfway through winter. Things will be looking brighter and brighter.

Five years ago today: The Random Acts Of Kindness Adventure #1

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Dress Was Only The Beginning

Almost two months ago I picked up the dress I'll wear to Son Tony's wedding in April. At the store it was too long, too big through the chest area, and needed to have alterations done. When I talked to my local tailor shop, she told me when I came in for the fitting I needed to bring the shoes and undergarments I planned to wear with the dress.

Those shoes and undergarments were a real challenge to find!

First of all, my feet don't handle high heels or pointy toes any more. They are happiest wearing athletic or "comfort" shoes. The dressy styles at the big box shoe stores all had one or both of my no-nos. I found some interesting pairs in a dedicated comfort shoe store, but they had unattractive black soles (which I thought would distract from the overall look). I lost track of the number of stores I shopped at. One day I was browsing for something else at an upscale thrift store and found a pair of flat sandals. They were comfortable, had tan soles, and, as a bonus, only cost ten dollars. The shoe color was a little darker than ideal, but they'll hardly show under the long dress.

One piece taken care of. Next was the undergarments.

The jacquard material of the unlined dress is a little scratchy, so a long slip was in order. The local Vincent dePaul store, my first stop, had a nice selection. They were one dollar. I picked the newest looking one. Half of the intimates were taken care of.

I've never found a comfortable strapless bra, and wasn't looking forward to having to wear one. But the sleeveless dress has bare shoulders and any type of strap would show. Bras tend to be expensive, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something I won't wear again. I looked in stores large and small, searched online, and finally ended up paying retail price for something at the outlet mall. The next day I happened to be back in the Vincent dePaul store. On a whim I looked at their rack, and was thrilled to see that there were three bras in my size! I tried them on, bought the one that fit best, returned the outlet mall one, and had an extra 40 dollars in my wallet.

Now the tailoring can be done. I'm one step closer to a complete outfit.

Five years ago today: Sugar, By Any Other Name

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Has It Been Ten Years Already?

In 2009 and 2010 I worked as a temporary Enumerator for the United States Census Bureau (each time for about a month). It was interesting work, and I'm glad I did it.

As you probably know, the Census comes around every ten years. When I saw an ad on social media that they were hiring for the 2020 version I decided to fill out an application. (If you're interested, too, you can find more information here.)

The online application process took about a half hour. I gave them some basic information, signed the form electronically, then took an online assessment that asked me to rate myself on my job and "getting along with people" skills.

After everything was done, I learned that the next step might not happen for several weeks or months. But eventually I should get a phone interview. As part of today's application I indicated I was a former Census worker. I wonder if that will help me go to the head of some line.

Five years ago today: Snow, Snow Go Away

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Peppery And Pungent

This afternoon I made a produce run so Hubby Tony and I would have vegetables for the week's lunches. One of my stops was the nearby Asian supermarket, which recently expanded into a second storefront. After I picked up the broccoli, cilantro, and yams that I came in for I wandered around looking at all the exotic items.

In the snack aisle I came across these Cocktail Nuts.

The package described the mixture as a "Rich Combination of Shallow Fried Cashew Nuts, Peanuts, Chick Peas and Green Peas". It sounded good, and I'll try anything once if the price is right. Tony and I had plans to eat dinner in front of the TV while we watched the Super Bowl, and I thought the nuts would be a tasty addition.  They jumped into my shopping bag.

Shortly before the game started we put out our food. I poured the mixture into a bowl and sampled a small handful. The mixture had a real chili kick! I looked at the ingredients label, and saw that, in addition to the ones listed on the front the mixture also had cumin seed, red chili, mango powder, green chili flakes, black salt, cloves, and asafoetida sugar.

The nuts really complimented the rest of our dinner food, and at the end of the meal there wasn't much left in the bag.  Which is a shame, because I was planning on serving leftovers tomorrow night.  Maybe another trip to the market will be in order?

Five years ago today: Misbehaving Mommies

Saturday, February 2, 2019

What Is Prayer?

I liked this interpretation of prayer. I just wish I knew who wrote it so I could give them proper credit.
Prayer doesn’t just happen when we kneel or put our hands together to focus and expect things from God.  Instead…
Thinking positive thoughts and wishing good for others is prayer.
When you hug a friend, that is prayer.
When you cook something to nourish family and friends, that is prayer.
When you send off your near and dear ones and say ‘Drive Safely’ or ‘Be Safe’, that is prayer.
When you help someone in need by giving your time and energy you are praying.
When you forgive someone, that is prayer.
Prayer is a vibration. A feeling. A thought. It is the voice of love, friendship, and genuine relationships. Prayer is an expression of your silent being.

Five years ago today: Game? What Game?