Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Lee Family

The Lee family has really been stressing me out. Perhaps you know them:

Emotional Lee
Mental Lee
Physical Lee
Financial Lee 

Five years ago today: Can You See The Advantage?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

I Could Be A Barking Bison That Grunts

Have you chosen a Halloween costume yet? If not, maybe this list of ideas from the National Park Service will help.  Choose the phrase from each column that corresponds to the first letter of your first and last name and you're good to go.

You're welcome.

National Park Service

Five years ago today: Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

Thursday, October 24, 2019

What The Heck Is Cascara?

The other day I was ordering lunch at restaurant and I noticed they had a drink that contained something called cascara on the menu. I had no idea what that was (and the person taking my order wasn't much help).  Because I was in an adventurous mood I went ahead and ordered the drink, which was refreshing, sweet, and fruity, with notes of cherry and red current.

I came home and did some research, and learned that cascara is made from the fruit of coffee cherries... another name for the berries produced by coffee trees. After the coffee beans are removed from the cherries the leftover pulp and skins used to be tossed. To make cascara they're dried Then they can be brewed for tea, or made into a syrup and added to other drinks.

Raw coffee beans and leftover cherry from Wikipedia

Five years ago today: Holy "Mole-y"

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Pumpkin Under Pressure

Today's schedule was empty except for one work commitment. After completing my job I decided to swing by the grocery store and buy a pumpkin to set out on the front porch. When I got there I realized they were a great price, so I got for outside and one to cook and turn into puree.

At home I chose the nicest-looking fruit for the porch. I cut the other one onto chunks and removed the seeds. I usually cook my pumpkins in the oven, but the other day I read about doing it in an Instant Pot on Facebook and decided to give it a try.

The pumpkin was approximately 13 pounds. (I know that conventional wisdom says that small pie pumpkins make the most flavorful puree, but I've always had luck using full sized ones. And as an added bonus, the bigger the pumpkin the more seeds there are to roast.) Only half of the chunks fit in the Instant Pot, so I arranged the rest on a sheet pan and put it in the oven. Both sets of pumpkin were done at approximately the same time. The Instant Pot directions called for six minutes of cooking time, but that didn't include the time for the pot to come to pressure or the time for the pressure to release at the end.

It was interesting to compare the two sets of chunks. The baked pieces were firmer and had a few brown caramelized edges. The pressure cooked pieces looked a little mushy, and there was a substantial amount of liquid in the bottom of the pot. I transferred the baked pieces to a bowl and took both it and the Instant Pot container outside to the deck to cool off before I processed them.

Baked versus pressure cooked

Twenty minutes later the baked pieces were easy to handle, but the ones from the Instant Pot were still hot. I sliced the skin off the cooked pieces, used the food processor to puree everything, then poured the puree into a coffee-filter lined colander. After letting the puree strain for a couple of hours I was able to make four 2-cup bags of puree and four 2-cup containers of pumpkin juice. It all went into the freezer. As an added bonus, while I was waiting for the liquid to drain out out I roasted the seeds and put that container in the pantry.

Now I'm ready for some Fall recipes!

Five years ago today: Color Me Confused

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Special Sink

The other day I popped into my local library to look for a book. The building had been recently renovated, and when I used the bathroom I realized they had updated that section, too. Part of the renovation was installing fancy all-in-one sinks.

I tried one of them out out. The first step is to stick your hands under the left side of the bar, which causes a squirt of soap come out. After you're finished washing your hands, you put them under the middle of the bar, which activates a stream of water to rinse them. Once all the soap is gone, you move your hands to under the drying icon at the right side of the bar, which releases a stream of warm air to dry them off.

Using the sink was so fun and unusual that I actually spent extra time cleaning my hands. I wonder if that happens to other people too-or if I'm just easily amused?

Five years ago today: Sometimes You Just Can't Win

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

He Done Her Wrong

I was reminded by Vintage St. Louis that on this day in 1899:
"Frankie Baker shot Albert Britt to death after an argument over another woman at 212 Targee Street in St. Louis. Frankie pleaded self-defense and was acquitted. Pianist Bill Dooley wrote a song about the murder called “Frankie and Albert.” Over the years, it got changed to “Frankie and Johnny.” When the story became a motion picture, Baker sued. The court found that it was considered a folk song, and ruled against her. Baker died in a Portland mental institution in 1950."
Wikipedia told me that there have been multiple songs written about the event, and at least 256 recordings have been made since the early 20th century. There have been big band, pop, country, and jazz versions, but this is one of my favorites

Five years ago today: Senior Citizen Texting Code

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Come See It!

This afternoon our house was the center of attention at an Open House hosted by our agent.

Once again the house got cleaned from top to bottom. Fortunately this time Hubby Tony was available to do half of the work. He took care of the vacuuming and general outside spiffing up. I polished all the glass surfaces, swept the kitchen floor, and cleaned the fingerprints off all the wood. As you might expect, the process was not without hitches. An hour before the event started I discovered a cat hairball in the middle of the bedroom floor, which led to do some frantic scrubbing.

Cleaning was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out what to do with the cats for a couple of hours. We all had to leave the house, but the cats do not like traveling in the car. (Probably because they've never gone anywhere in the car but to the vet.)  After some discussion, Tony and I decided that we would drive somewhere where we could park the car, then let the cats out of their carriers to roam around the car and hope for the best. We could eat our lunch and pass the time reading and enjoying the fresh air.

In my CR-V it's easy to put the back seats down to make a large flat trunk area. Right before we left Tony stocked it with the (cleaned) litter box and a plastic container of water. When the agent arrived Tony and I each grabbed a cat, stuffed him in a carrier, and took it out to the car.

As we left the neighborhood we saw Open House signs pointing the potential buyers towards our house. We ended up going to a nearby park. It took a couple of tries, but eventually I found a parking spot with enough shade for everyone. I opened the car's sun roof a tad and rolled down the windows a little to let the breeze in. Then we opened the carriers and encouraged the cats to come out.

Both were less than enthusiastic about the idea,  but Tony and I ignored them, got comfortable in our seats, ate our lunches, and read the newspaper. Eventually the cats poked their heads out and looked around. Both tentatively walked around the trunk area, but spooked every time they heard a loud noise outside. Jackson ultimately ended up squeezing into a tiny space left between the seat cushions and the floor. Pepper spent most of his time in the carrier napping.

After the paper had been thoroughly read we drove to McDonald's for coffee, then to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. The actual open house was from noon until two in the afternoon, but the agent encouraged us to stay away until 2:30 in case there were any last-minute visitors. By the time we got home the agent was already gone.

Approximately a half hour later we received an email that told us that four groups of potential buyers had stopped by. All of them expressed positive feedback about our kitchen and the finished lower level, but one of them had an issue with the fact that we did not have a fenced back yard. It will be interesting to see if any of them are interested enough to follow up.

Five years ago today: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Friday, October 11, 2019

Polite, Pleasant, Personable

My large collection of houseplants has been summering outside,  but cold weather is around the corner and they'll all have to come inside. This year I decided to reduce the size of the collection and posted a message offering a group of them on the free section of Craigslist.

Within two minutes of finalizing my post I got the first response, and ten others came in before I could log back into my account and delete it. Most of the responses got right to the point, asking some variation of Are the plants still available? A couple of people also added when they'd be able to pick them up. I wanted the plants gone, so I offered the lot to the first responder. However, shortly after that I received this email:
Good evening!

I just saw your post for the houseplants. If they are still available, I would love to have all of them. I grew up with my grandmother who always had plants, mostly aloe, spider plants, Christmas cacti, and a couple of African violets. Anyway, I have become more interested in plants in recent years and in fact am in a botany class now at the community college.

Thank you for your time and consideration! Have a great night!
The message was so personal and polite I was disappointed I had already made arrangements. I answered the message, saying:
The plants are already spoken for, but I will keep your name in case they don't show up. Also, I may have more in a couple of weeks, if you'd like me to let you know.
I quickly got another response:
Thank you so much for letting me know. I'm always looking for plants, so yes, please keep me in mind for more, if you can. Thanks again, and have a great night!
When I did come up with more plants to get rid of I contacted the polite woman directly.  She seemed thrilled to accept my discards, and stopped by my house on her way to work. I watched as she carefully arranged the pots in the trunk of her car, then as she waved at me as she drove away.

Five years ago today: Two Words

Monday, October 7, 2019

Flip Flops Lost And Found

Last Friday was a whirlwind of cleaning and straightening to get the house ready for its listing photo session. At some point the flip flops I was wearing started slowing me down, so I kicked them off. The rest of the day I slid the shoes on when I went outside or down to the unfinished part of the basement, and back off when I was working on the main level or second floor.

When the photographer arrived I put the footwear back on to answer the door. The first thing she did when she entered the house was to remove her shoes, so I did the same thing. Because nothing could be out of place in the photographs I put them somewhere to get them out of the way. However, when the photo session was over and the photographer left I couldn't remember where that was.

An hour later when Hubby Tony got home from work we packed the car and left for our yearly couple's retreat. On Sunday when we got back I wanted to wear my comfy flip flops, but they were still missing. As the day wore on I went from checking in obvious places like the closets, to peeking under furniture, looking in between the couch cushions, and even peering into a trash can. No luck.

This morning I opened one of the cabinets above my desk. Those missing flip flops were tucked on a shelf in between two magazine holders. Right where I had put them.

Five years ago today: As Seen On The Way To Work Today....

Friday, October 4, 2019

"I'm Ready For My Closeup, Mr. DeMille"

Our house sale process continues to inch forward. Today we had a real estate photographer come to take the listing photos that will show up on the internet websites.

For the past month we've been decluttering and depersonalizing the house, but now it was time to kick the straightening into high gear. The realtor had given us some helpful tips. The first, of course, was to make sure that everything was clean and sparkled. Others I wouldn't have thought of, like flipping over every bedspread that had a plain side, and tucking our bedside clocks under the bed.

Yesterday I cleaned all the soap scum off the master bathroom shower doors. It looked so pristine that I decided not to use it until after the photographer was done. In the meantime I temporarily stored my towel in one of my dresser drawers.

I hid the trash cans and all of our personal care items in the bathroom, took everything off the laundry room shelves and stored it temporarily in the garage, dusted all the wood surfaces one last time, and used a damp rag on any other surface. I swept the front porch and sidewalk up to the house.

I took everything off the counters in the kitchen. Some things that are less essential (like the banana holder, the coffee grinder, and the electric tea kettle) will stay put away unless needed. Others, like the coffee maker, were back on the counter 2 minutes after the photographer left.

When the photographer arrived she walked from room to room, using a laser ruler to measure the size of each. Next she turned on all the lights and took multiple shots of each room from different angles. When she was done with her camera, she walked through with a video camera. For her last step, she went outside and used a drone to take photos of the property.

It will take her 48 hours to edit the photos and pass them on to the realtor. On Monday the photos will be published and our listing will "go live", which is both exciting and scary at the same time.

Five years ago today: Cinnamonny

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Just Me, Myself, And I

So, the last time we chatted I was getting ready for a mini work and vacation adventure. It turned out to be wonderful.

I got in late Monday night (actually Tuesday morning), but the perky hotel front desk employee gave me a big smile and an enthusiastic greeting. When I got to my room I changed into my pajamas, quickly brushed my teeth, and collapsed into bed. The next morning I took advantage of the free hotel breakfast for a quick meal, then went back to the room to fire up my computer to do my work reporting. By lunchtime I was done, and had until Wednesday night to do what I wanted, when I wanted to.

Even though the area was having the same record-setting heat I left back at home, I found that it wasn't too bad in the shade, so I planned my route to walk on the shady side of the street. I was the master of my itinerary. I visited some cultural institutions, and took the tourist trolley from one end of its route to the other.

It was fun being the master of my itinerary. I could approach someone standing on the sidewalk to ask for restaurant recommendations, or take as much time as I wanted Yelping places to eat, or pop into a coffee shop on the spur of the moment. Without a companion to chat with I was able to spend as much time as I wanted people watching. When I got tired I went back to my hotel room to hog the entire king sized bed, watch TV, read, and do crossword puzzles. In the evenings I had Me Time. I took a bath in the surprising large hotel tub, deep conditioned my hair, and gave my feet some long-overdue attention.

Hubby Tony kept in contact via text and phone calls. I shared photos of my meals, and he told me what he was up to. However, as much fun as my brief time away was, when it was time to leave I was more than ready. However, I can't wait for the next similar opportunity that may come my way.

Five years ago today: I Quit!