Sunday, March 31, 2019


I was cleaning out my Inbox today and found this gem tucked way at the bottom.  It's too good not to share.
A millionaire wanted his son to understand that the world was made up of those who had great happiness in the world because they never wanted for anything, and those who lived in unhappiness because their struggles were never-ending. He asked one of his lowest-paid workers if his son could stay for a weekend, and the employee agreed.

When the weekend was over, the millionaire picked up his son. On the way home he asked his son, "What did you learn about how others live?"

"A lot," the boy replied as he sat with his shoulders slumped, "We have a dog, but they have three dogs and a couple of cats. They even have chickens and ducks and a donkey. We have a swimming pool, but they have this great big lake. We have a deck, but they have a back yard that stretches for miles and miles. And at dinner, they all sit around a table and laugh and talk together."

The millionaire sat in silence, listening to his son.

"I guess the lesson I learned, Dad, is how poor we really are."

--Author Unknown
Five years ago today: Signs of Spring 2014

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Best Thing Since Sliced...Bagels?

In the last 24 hours, any Internet search you do for bagels offers up results for a St. Louis controversy. It all started when Alek Krautmann, a St. Louis native, tweeted a photo of a box of bread sliced Panera bagels he had brought into the office. The caption for the photo said that he had introduced his co-workers to the "St. Louis secret".

Years ago, the St. Louis Bread Company (AKA Panera outside the metropolitan area) started offering the option of running their bagels through the bread slicing machine to make thin slices. The unconventional method has a lot of advantages. The smaller pieces are easy to dip in your preferred topping. It's easier to eat just part of a bagel, or grab small pieces with one hand while you're on the go. If you're sharing the treat with a friend, it's more sanitary.

Personally, I prefer a real New York style bagel to anything that comes from a chain. However, there are no traditional New York-style bagelries in my neighborhood, so if I want one BreadCo is the next best thing. The crust may not be as crunchy and chewy, but it's acceptable.

What about you? Do you like bagels? Had you heard about bread slicing one before yesterday? Would you consider trying one that way?

Five years ago today: There Are No Accidents...

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Detergent Diversification

Ever since I've belonged to a discount club (first Sam's, now Costco), I've bought large containers of powdered laundry detergent there. Back in the day there were five people making dirty clothes, three of whom were boys. I did a lot of laundry, and it made sense to go to the store as little as possible. In the beginning the plastic tubs weighed 40 pounds; eventually there was a reformulation it which made the tubs half that size. Occasionally the brand name would change, but the stuff inside the container always worked well.

Now there's only two of us making dirty clothes, but I still buy the big containers because I like how they clean and I know how to use them. They just last longer. Last week I realized that we were getting low on detergent. The next time I went to Costco I walked to the section near the back of the store to get another tub. I went from one end of the aisle to the other and back again but I couldn't find what I was looking for. The shelves were filled with bottles of liquid detergent and packages of pods. There were name brands and store brands. The labels touted they were "Ultra", "Concentrated", or even "Ultra Concentrated". Some styles were scented and others fragrance-free. A few even contained fabric softener. But none of them were what I came in for.

Eventually I realized that my powdered detergent tub was unavailable. After comparing the prices for several brands I chose the least expensive liquid. It felt strange to be carrying a bottle out of the store, but I have to admit it was easier to get into my car and carry into my house.

I have now used the liquid detergent for several loads. It seems to wash the clothes just as well, but it's hard for me to see the marking on the cap telling me just how much I need for a load. And right now while the bottle is full, it's hard for me to pick it up with one hand to pour a load's worth into the cap. Change is always inevitable, though, and I bet before too long I'll wonder how I ever did the laundry without that big jug.

Five years ago today: Thanks, But No Thanks

Monday, March 25, 2019


I've got some exciting news.

Some time ago Son Brian and Daughter-In-Law Nicole announced to the family that they were expecting...IDENTICAL TWINS!  At that point it was too early to go public with the information, and they said they were not planning on any social media announcements. So I waited....and waited.....and eventually asked them when I could share the information with the extended family and my friends.

In the meantime we learned that Grandson Jay would have two new brothers sometime in the middle of the summer.  At the age of two, he's really too young to know exactly what that means but because Mom and Dad are excited he is, too.

Brian and Nicole asked Hubby Tony and I to be available to come and take care of Jay while she's is in the hospital. Of course we said yes! As a matter of fact, we already have our plane tickets for the visit.

We're both delighted for all of the changes that are coming for the family. I can't wait to have new babies to hug and cuddle with.  This is going to be the best summer ever!

Five years ago today: A Tale of Two Temperatures

Sunday, March 24, 2019

No Cow Milk Needed

This morning Hubby Tony and I did something unique. We took a class to learn how to make vegan cheese! The class was held at the Bike Stop Cafe in Chesterfield, and taught by Stephanie Bosch, who is a Culinary Nutritionist.

We arrived at the cafe a couple of minutes early, where we signed in and collected a packet of recipes. Right on time Stephanie invited the approximately dozen people into the back kitchen area, which was where the class took place. Everyone put their personal things away and washed their hands, then took places around the work table in the center of the room. There was a large, beautifully arranged cheese board in the center of the table for us to sample.  As most of the recipes were finished, we got to taste them too.

To start, Stephanie had everyone introduce themselves and tell why they were taking the class. Some people were there for themselves, and others because they wanted to cook healthier for their family members. The common denominator, though, was that everyone was following a predominantly plant-based diet.

Over the course of two hours Stephanie showed us how to make three cashew-based cheeses (and one based on almonds). All of them started with soaked nuts, which were pureed in a blender with spices and other ingredients. Some of the recipes included nutritional yeast, and others used thickening agents. Some were cooked, and some were not.

The first recipe Stephanie made was a queso cheese, which was a simple blend of cashews, nutritional yeast, spices, and a canned chipotle in adobo sauce, served with tortilla chips.  This one was pretty good (and I even went back for seconds), but I personally would have added more heat to it. I did not take a photo of this one.

For the second cheese Stephanie made a "Melty, Stretchy, Gooey" mozzarella that she said was great for grilled cheese, quesadillas, or vegetarian lasagna. A combination of soaked cashews, yogurt, acid, nut milk, nutritional yeast, and tapioca starch were blended together and cooked. Stephanie said it was important to stir the entire time the cheese was on the heat.  This was served with toasted sourdough bread. 

Cooking the mozzarella
Next, Stephanie changed gears and made some chèvre from almonds.  She started by blending soaked blanched almonds with water and salt, then poured the mixture into a nut milk bag and squeezing out as much liquid as possible. (I learned that if you sweetened this liquid a little bit you could call it almond milk.) However, it was the solids that Stephanie used for the cheese. To them she added apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, refined coconut oil, and spices. Although she told us this cheese would be best if it aged for at least 24 hours we sampled it immediately. It was still good.

Blended almond solids-the beginning of chèvre
The last cheese was a pepper jack, which Stephanie told us could be cubed, grated, or sliced.  It was the most complicated recipe, and used several new-to-me ingredients. After the cashews were blended with plant-based milk cider vinegar, coconut oil, spices, tapioca starch, inulin, and carrageenan it was heated to a specific temperature. Stephanie mixed in diced jalapeno, red pepper, and pepper flakes, then scooped the mixture into molds. There wasn't time for the cheese to completely set up, so we were not able to sample this variety. It sure looked good, though.

Spreading pepperjack into molds
I couldn't believe how fast the two hours flew by. I don't know how soon I'll be incorporating all of these new cheeses into my daily eating plan, but at least now I have options

Five years ago today: But I Saw It On The Internet!

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Parking Miracle

Yesterday I had an appointment at an apartment building downtown. In theory, there should have been two reserved parking spaces right in front of the building. However, those were already taken, so I had to drive around looking for other options.

The hourly rate in the garages I passed was more than I wanted to spend. I would have to use a meter, but I didn't have any change to feed it. Eventually after driving around for several blocks I found a spot with a meter that took credit cards.

There was only one problem. The spot had cars in front of it and behind it. I rarely have to parallel park, and since I never practice I don't do it well. As a matter of fact, I usually go to great lengths to avoid having to do it, but time was running out and this was my only option.

Crossing my fingers, I pulled up even with the car in front of the spot, then put the car into reverse, turned my wheel to the right, then to the left when I was halfway in. Much to my surprise the car slid neatly into the space right next to the curb!

Five years ago today: Mapping Of The Cat Brain

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

First Day Of Spring Color

Last week a friend sent out an email inviting a small group to meet her at the botanical garden to see the orchid show and have lunch in the garden's cafe. Seven people responded that they were in. This morning at 10:00 we all met in the lobby for our "moment of Zen" field trip.

It was a little ironic that ten days ago when the original message went out it was still cold and cruddy. Today was overcast, but overall this week there's been a hint of the new season in the air.  The orchid show was held is a large room in the main building of the garden. There was an incredible selection of orchids arrayed against a backdrop of tropical greenery. A path meandered around and through the room.

After everyone in the group had their fill of admiring the beautiful flowers we took the elevator upstairs and filed into the cafeteria. The menu had a large variety of items, and it was hard for me to decide. In the end I ordered a Kale Caesar salad, with the traditional dressing, Parmesan, and croutons paired with large pieces of kale.

The rest of the group was going to explore more of the garden, but I was expecting a phone call, so I said my goodbyes and left. Instead of driving home down the freeway I took the surface road so I could pull off if my call came in. At the halfway point I passed a garden shop with a rolling cart of pansies outside. The pop of color took me by surprise, and I was past the shop before I could react and pull in. However, several miles to the west when I passed a big box hardware store I didn't make the same mistake twice.  I've never bought outside flowers on the first day of spring, but it felt like an appropriate postscript to my morning.

The store had single-color and mixed six packs. I chose the latter. At home I put the flowers in the front porch planter and watered them well. I'm looking forward to enjoying the bright blooms all spring.
Small, but they'll quickly grow

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Lemongrass In And Out

This morning I was supposed to have an appointment, but I received a call telling me that because of an emergency the office was closing for the day. All of a sudden I had no commitments!

I used my bonus day productively. I planted the ginger rhizomes that will summer on the deck when the weather warms up, and potted up a spider plantlet that had broken off the mother plant. I gave the bathrooms some needed attention, including deep-cleaning the toilet bowls to remove the water rings, then I grabbed the baking soda to scour the soap scum off of the shower glass. I changed out the winter artwork. In between physical jobs I tackled accumulated paperwork and desk projects. Then when Hubby Tony got home from work we took a nice walk.

After dinner I realized that after all my work the joints in my right hand were a little creaky, so I pulled out my bottle of lemongrass essential oil and rubbed a little bit over the knuckles and down the fingers. It only took a couple of minutes before things felt less creaky.  And as an added bonus my hands smelled good.

Later in the evening I decided to have some herbal tea. Do you think it was a coincidence that I chose lemongrass?

Five years ago today: Spring Into Fashion

Sunday, March 17, 2019


Today would have been the hundredth birthday of Nat King Cole. (He died in 1965 at the age of 45.) In his honor, here's a version of one of my favorite songs:

Five years ago today: The Patron Saint Of Cats

Saturday, March 16, 2019

No Fish Here!

During the Lenten season Fish Fries are very popular in our area. However, there is only one Unfish Fry, a vegetarian dinner sponsored by the First Unitarian Church. Hubby Tony and I first heard about the event last year, but unfortunately the newspaper had printed the wrong date and we missed it. A couple of weeks ago  Son Donald happened to mention this year's version, and Tony and I made sure we put it on our calendar.

Last night after Tony got home from work we drove to the church, which is in the Central West End section of the city. When we saw this sign we knew we were at the right place:

Even though the doors had just opened there was a steady stream of people walking into the building. We joined them. The ordering system was quite efficient. At the payment station right inside the door we each received a paper listing all of the choices, then chose two entrees and two sides:

When we entered the cafeteria there wasn't much of a line, so after making our choices we walked right up to the serving line and handed them our papers. (We were lucky. By the time we left the line stretched halfway down the length of the room). We received our food quickly, then walked over to the condiment table and chose from the fresh-looking selection. Water, lemonade, and iced tea were included with the meal. Adult beverages and desserts were available for an extra cost.

My meal-Chili with toppings, dolmades, salad, and green beans
Tony and I both ordered chili and salad, but his meal included falafel and hummus. We shared our bounty with each other, then splurged on dessert. I chose vegan chocolate cookies and Tony grabbed an apple-cranberry crumble. Everything was freshly prepared and quite tasty.

I already can't wait for the 2020 Unfish Fry.

Five years ago today: Tag It

Friday, March 15, 2019

Shortness Of Supply

At my checkup appointment last fall the doctor recommended I get the Shingrix vaccine for shingles. The drug website says that one out of three people in the United States will get shingles, and I've known enough people that have gone through the disease to want to protect myself. However, at that time the vaccine was relatively new (approved in October 2017 and officially recommended by the CDC for adults 50 and older in January 2018) and hard to find. I used that as an excuse to put off the task, transferring the doctor's note from month to month in my tickler file.

This month I decided to get serious about the task. Starting on March 1st I carried the reminder note around with me before the task rose to the top of my list, and for the last week I've been on a mission to complete it. That's been easier said than done.

My insurance will cover the cost of immunizations at any Walgreens pharmacy, and there are a lot of them around me. However, even though the drug website had it listed as available all over the area, none of the stores I checked with actually had the vaccine in stock. Finding it turned into a game. See a Walgreens, pop in, and ask at the pharmacy window.

Most locations told me they had a first come, first served policy and I was just out of luck. After three days the best I could do was put my name on a list, which had about 200 people ahead of me. I tried calling, but the automated menu to talk to a live person is arduous to navigate, and the hold times were so long I'd give up before I got through.

Yesterday I hit the immunization jackpot! At the pharmacy window the technician told me they had one dose in stock. It took twenty minutes from the time I walked in until the time I left, but it was time well spent.

After she administered the shot, the pharmacist told me most people had a sore arm that lasted for a couple of days, and a few reported they got a headache or felt tired and achy all over. I'm left-handed, so got the injection in my right arm. Good thing. Over the course of the day my arm got very sore. Before I went to bed I took some acetaminophen, but found I couldn't sleep on my right side. Overnight I had a headache and chills. (It also didn't help that I had done some gardening and, despite wearing gloves, got a sticker in my two different fingers, and I had sore muscles from a class at the the gym.) When I woke up I felt like I'd been run over by a Mack truck.

After a hot shower things slowly got better. I moved very slowly and was able to complete all of my errands for the day. Without too many issues.

The good news is that I got my Shingrix shot. The bummer is that I need another some some time between two and six months from now. I understand that the second time will be easier. I'm now on a priority list and will just get a call from the pharmacy telling me to come in.

Five years ago today: PLEASE?!?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Put Water In Plants

I have a collection of potted plants that summer outside and spend the winter in the house. It started  years ago with a couple of hanging baskets. Every year since then it has grown, until now there's plants everywhere in the kitchen, and a few in the master bathroom, from late October until the weather warms back up.

This year there are several pots on the counter top behind the sink, another group on the window seat across the room, and two baskets hanging above them from hooks in the ceiling. The plants the cats like to nibble on are living above one of the kitchen cabinets. (They don't receive near enough sun there, but they survive well enough.)  Upstairs, there's a large pot on a ledge next to the bathtub and a smaller one on a second ledge. Since both Hubby Tony and I take showers instead of baths I even have a pot set inside the tub.

Watering all these plants is a big deal, and it takes the better part of an hour to finish the job. I start by adding a couple of inches of water to both sides of the double-bowl kitchen sink. Then I cram in all the smaller plants, pour more water on the top of the soil to filter through, and let them soak for 20 minutes to make sure everything is saturated. While they're soaking I run upstairs and start all the bathroom plants in the tub. When the first set is done in the kitchen I take them out to drain and repeat the process with the hanging plants.

Eventually everything is well wetted and I can put all the pots back where they belong. Until the next time.  I'm already counting down the days until I can think about putting all the plants back outside!

Five years ago today: Spring Cleaning...It’s Time!

Monday, March 11, 2019

There's A Day For Everything!

According to the Dull Men’s Club, the Monday of the second full week in March (which would be today) is Fill Our Staplers Day.

Mine needed it, so I did.

Saturday, March 9, 2019


Wiktionary defines a paraprosdokian as a:
Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation.
Here are a few examples for your chuckling pleasure
  • Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong 
  • A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
  • We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right--only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  • I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.
  • In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.
  • A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.
  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  • Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • You're never too old to learn something stupid.
  • I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Five years ago today: Crosswords By Committee

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ashes On The Go

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent. I started my day by receiving ashes on my forehead at my parish school's Mass (where they 'buried the Alleluia' until Easter and the Eighth graders and Kindergartners teamed up to do the Prayers of the Faithful petitions), then continued on with my errands.

Once on the main street, I noticed that the nearby Methodist church was having what they call an "Ash and Dash" program again this year. The event was set up in the parking lot of the city's Athletic Association, which is where the church also has their Christmas tree lot in December.

There was a pop-up tent set with a sign that indicated they were offering Drive-Thru Prayer and Ashes set up right off the street. The lot was divided into lanes with traffic cones, and I could see two clergy people standing and waiting for business.

At our church they ask parishioners to bring in their palms from last year's Palm Sunday to burn and make ashes. I don't know how this church also did it, but I know it's just a coincidence that the event is held right next to a cremation provider.

Five years ago today: Polenta. It's What's For Dinner

Monday, March 4, 2019

Walk With Deliberation

Today I didn't exactly march, but when I chose not to go to the gym I had to do something to get exercise. Because the weather was too frigid to be outside, I used a trip to a large grocery store to get a good chunk of my 10,000 daily steps in.

There weren't many people shopping, so it was easy to do. I started in the Produce section and went up and down each of the 15 long aisles until I got to the far side of the store, breaking stride only when I swerved around a cart, turned a corner, or stopped to put a needed item into my shopping bag.

Halfway through the store I passed a store employee going in the opposite direction pushing a large dust mop. We crossed again in the next aisle, and the one after that. It started to feel weird, so at the end of the next aisle I stopped and browsed the end cap merchandise until the employee swept past me and turned the next corner. Then I continued my route in the other direction.

Five years ago today: Fat Tuesday

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Came To Pass (Almost) Perfectly

So....just a couple of days ago I was telling you about how a pending snow storm was messing with my planning for a food-serving event.  I'm glad to say that the event went off without any major hitches.

In the end approximately a third of the registered meeting attendees ended up cancelling. My combination of sweet and salty snacks was too heavy on cookies, but there were only a couple of bags of chips left. I was surprised that hardly anyone one in this crowd was an orange juice drinker; after two breakfasts less than a half gallon was gone and one was unopened. And, as I had suspected, there were unopened packages of plates, cereal bowls, and cups.

But...after Friday's social hour was over I ran to the grocery store across the street from the hotel for more cheese sticks and nuts. Mid-day on Saturday I returned to the store, this time to get more yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and bananas for Sunday's breakfast. Because of my scaled back food purchasing there was wiggle room in my budget, so each morning I was able to walk across the street to the St. Louis Bread Company (AKA Panera) and bring back totes of coffee.

As the weekend unfolded the start of the predicted snow storm kept getting pushed back. When I woke up this morning I was thrilled to see that the ground was clear. Fifteen minutes later flakes were flying during my coffee run, but in the end we only got a couple of inches of white stuff. After the meeting attendees finished breakfast I told them to take anything they wanted for later in the day snacks, passed on the unopened food items to someone for another event next weekend, packed up the Hospitality room, and headed home. My drive only took five minutes longer than normal.

About noon the snow stopped  and it wasn't long before the sun came out. This afternoon I took back all of the extra paper products and some jugs of iced tea that tasted 'off'. I tallied up all of my expenses and submitted the total for reimbursement. Project finished.

Five years ago today: The Mom Look