Friday, February 28, 2020

If You Can't Find It New, Make It From Old

When Hubby Tony and I moved into our condo, we knew that some of our furniture wouldn't be able to come with us. For example, the wall unit entertainment center with two side cabinets that held our TV and other assorted video and audio components was way too big for the new space. After we were in the new place, as a stopgap we set the TV and necessary internet pieces on a coffee table. It was pretty unsightly, but it did the trick while we looked for something else.

I soon lost track of the number of stores I visited looking for the perfect cabinet. I wanted something that had room to set the TV on top, with plenty of storage capacity underneath. Everything I saw was too small, or too big, or too trendy, or had shelves too small to hold the pieces of my stereo system. Or it cost more than I wanted to spend.

One day when I was searching the internet (again!) for stands that would work I came upon the concept of converting an old dresser to an entertainment stand and expanded my search at stores accordingly. For weeks, I made regular visits to all the thrift stores by my house, and even searched out locations if I knew I was going to be in another part of the metropolitan area.

The day I found a sturdy white dresser with solid framing between the drawers that looked promising I sent a photo to Tony to ask what he thought, then brought it home.

At the store
Once Tony helped me get everything into the condo I removed all the drawers, took the slides off of the top two rows, and measured the interior. Tony and I went to the hardware store and purchased plywood to even out the shelves.

Ready to go
Back at home I put the plywood in place, then drilled holes in the back for the electrical cords to pass through. I painted the interior the same gray color as our family room wall. The last step was to get Tony to help me carry the dresser into the family room. I put all the equipment in its place, then stepped back to admire the results.

Plenty of storage

Five years ago today: Grateful For Great Service

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

They Don't Call It Fat Tuesday For Nothing

You may be aware that Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, which means that it's almost the end of Mardi Gras season. Today's last hurrah is Fat Tuesday, a last opportunity to enjoy things that you will be giving up for the Lent.

For the past few days I've been overindulging in honor of the season. It started off with nightly servings of Girl Scout Thin Mints Hubby Tony bought from a co-workers daughter. Last Saturday I had a lunch meeting, then later in the day enjoyed dinner out with Tony. Sunday we ate our way through a contest to determine the best soup and dessert from local restaurants. Yesterday I had a more than substantial working breakfast at a downtown hotel.

My body is starting to rebel from all the rich food, so today I alternated between healthy (a protein bar and piece of fruit for breakfast) and not. Between lunch and dinner I treated myself to several snacks, and I turned my normal cup of black coffee into a sweet mocha. All was a lead-in to the dinner that I knew was coming.

I had a dinner assignment at a restaurant just up the road from our condo. Right after Tony arrived home from work we got into the car. As we walked into the restaurant I could smell the sizzling meat cooking on the grill. We walked through the line and ordered our food (a BLT sandwich for me, a burger for Tony, an order of fries to split, and drinks). And in a nice stroke a luck one of the assignment requirements was to add a shake to the order. This restaurant's shakes come with a wide variety of add-ins. I chose chocolate and cherry flavorings, and asked Tony to pick another one or two. He decided that crushed Oreo pieces would taste good.

While we were waiting for our food we munched on the in-shell peanuts the restaurant has available for customers. I'm proud to say that they didn't ruin our appetite; we finished all the items we ordered. And because I was honoring the Fat Tuesday tradition I didn't worry about how many calories I was consuming. Tomorrow I can go back to my healthy eating habits.

Five years ago today: Can I Ask You A Few Questions?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

What's The Secret Word?

I have accounts scattered all over the Internet, most of which require passwords. As the list of sites started to add up I was guilty of overusing (and even reusing) simple passwords. That changed when I recently decided to subscribe to a password manager.

The manager stores my login information for all the websites in a cloud-based vault that uses a master password, so I only have to remember one. I log in with the master, then the information for the specific website automatically fills in.  Became on my own I have trouble coming up with strong passwords, the manager also generates them for me if I ask it to…coming up with something like LgqQQB0TPtcYxGJkf5rf. Good thing I don't have to try to remember that string of characters!

Five years ago today: Open To The Public

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Barley for Breakfast

Several months ago I was in a cooking rut. I asked Hubby Tony for some suggestions, and he told me I should cook some barley.

I was all ready to include it in dinner that night, but my Google search for an appropriate recipe also included some hits for using it as a breakfast grain. When Tony got home that night I told him he would be able to eat his barley, but not until the next morning. Since that time I've made what I call Breakfast Barley every few weeks. I've modified the original recipe to make it my own, using a variety of ingredients. Each time I do it the results are a little different, but  it's always good.

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cups juice (Your choice. If using canned fruit juice you may want to decrease the sweetener.)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey (Or any combination adding up to that amount.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Or use any spice that would be appropriate in a sweet dish. Or use multiple spices.)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  1. Place barley in medium saucepan with juice, water, sweetener, spices, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until barley is almost tender. 
  3. Add cranberries and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until mixture is thick and barley is tender. Stir in walnuts.
  4. Serve immediately, store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze in portion-sized containers. Reheat in microwave
      Ready to be stored for future breakfasts
Five years ago today: Not ME!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Really, Mom?

This afternoon the sunniest spot in the house was the master bedroom, so I decided that was the best place to sit and read. I fed Jackson the Cat his lunch, then carefully carried my cup of coffee and the community newspaper down the hall and got comfortable on the bed.

It didn't immediately occur to me that the spot I chose was Jackson's preferred (no matter what the weather) afternoon nap spot. After he finished eating he came in and jumped up on the bed, saw me sitting there, and was not amused. Instead of having a fluffy pillow to lean up against at the top of the mattress he had to settle for a spot at the foot. He gave me the evil eye for several seconds before closing those eyes for his snooze.

Five years ago today: The Only One For Me Is You And You For Me

Thursday, February 13, 2020

I Hadn't Heard

I have barely been to the gym since mid-December. First came our trip to California to see the family, then the holidays were upon us. After the first of the year my exercise was packing, carrying, and unpacking boxes at the new condo. Then shortly after we moved in I had to go to the Urgent Care for a finger issue. I milked that injury for all it was worth, deciding that strenuous exercise would not be good for it.

After the suture was removed from my finger I started making time for exercise as my schedule permitted. (Or not. It seems like each week there's been some winter weather, and I used that for an excuse to stay home.)

I belong to a large local chain of gyms, and at our new place I'm equidistant from two locations. So, depending on what my plans for the day were, I can decide which one to go to and what time to show up for the class that interested me. For the most part I've chosen the one directly to the east. Today, though, I was headed in another direction and decided to check out the other facility.

I walked in just behind a woman that I knew from the location by my old house. She seemed surprised to see me, and asked where I'd been. We walked into the group exercise room together and I set up my equipment just to the right of her. The woman started telling me about her exercise routine, which was two days at that location and two days as a different type of gym. When I asked her where the original mutual gym fit into her routine she gave me a "what a dummy" look and said that the location had closed the middle of last month because the mall the gym was in had been sold.

Five years ago today: Car Lot Conceding

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Real? Or Not?

I came across an article that referred to a quiz on the Adobe website called Real or Photoshop. The quiz consists of  25 images, znd the goal is to try to figure out whether each is a real or manipulated photograph. Some of them are pretty obvious, but others threw me for a loop.

If you try it out, let me know how you did.

Five years ago today: Think Someone Would Buy It?

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Doing It Right

Last year was the first time I heard about National Pizza Day, but I enjoyed observing it. This year the event wasn't on my radar until I got an email from my gym promoting the 'holiday'. Since the message came from an organization that helps people get fit, it included a list entitled Six Ways to Order a Healthy Pizza. They were:
  1. Start with a salad
  2. Downsize your pizza
  3. Don't get it stuffed
  4. Thin over thick crust
  5. Veggie toppings
  6. Skip the dip
Coincidently, last night Hubby Tony and I ate at a local pizzeria for dinner. The restaurant had a special for Buy One, Get One Free medium-sized, two topping pies. We ordered one with green peppers and mushrooms, the second with tomatoes and onions, and added a house salad. When all was said and done we had eaten half of each pizza, and brought it home for lunch today.

Normally I warm pizza the quick and easy way in the microwave, which does the trick but makes the crust rubbery. In honor of Pizza Day, I thought I would take the time to properly reheat it. To find out the best way I turned to Google, which (surprisingly) did not give me a definitive answer. It seemed that the websites that advocated heating pizza in the oven were split between doing it low and slow (275 degrees for 30 minutes) or hot and fast (450 degrees for 10 minutes). Being impatient, I went with the second option. Following the directions I put a pizza pan in the oven when I turned it on, and when the oven came up to temp I slid the leftovers onto the hot pan and tossed it back in.

The pizza came out perfectly, with a crisp bottom and a chewy crust. Today we had a spinach salad to accompany the meal. When we were finished, there was nothing left.

Five years ago today: It Was A Great Day For A Parade

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

What Am I? Not Chopped Liver

This morning Karen at Baking In A Tornado was nice enough to inform me that today was National Homemade Soup Day. Just like that I had dinner inspiration.

But what type of soup? Hubby Tony had served Costco white bean chicken chili for Sunday's dinner, and there were enough leftovers that we ate the same thing last night. I looked through the refrigerator to see what needed to be used up. There were mainly leftovers from our Super Bowl viewing party-a small ramekin of mushroom pâté (a combination of mushrooms, onions, walnuts, and spices cooked and puréed in a food processor), several pieces of thin-sliced whole grain bread, part of a lemon cake, some homemade blueberry sauce, and a container of whipped topping. I thought that tomato soup would round out the meal well.

Pâté, anyone?
Of course tomatoes aren't in season. Aldi had Romas on sale this week, so while I was out running errands I swung by there for a couple of pounds. Back at home I roasted the tomatoes in the oven with onion and garlic, then dumped them in a pot with some homemade stock and dried basil and simmered everything until the tomatoes were falling apart. The next step was to whiz the soup with an immersion blender and put it back on low heat. I didn't have any cream, but some reconstituted milk powder made an acceptable substitute and was more diet friendly.

Right before dinner I tossed the bread in the oven to crisp up, then poured big bowls of soup and transferred everything to the table. As I suspected, the pâté was an excellent complement to the soup. After dinner, I heated up the blueberry sauce, poured it over the cake, then added dollops of whipped topping. Dessert was as tasty as it was on Sunday.

We only used half the soup, so the rest will be dinner tomorrow. Just one there's nothing to go with it. It's supposed to snow overnight, so after the dishes were cleaned up I quickly ran to the grocery store to get some good cheese to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

Five years ago today: Evaluator Times Two

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Adventures In Diet Ruining

One of the nice things about living in our new condo is a community newspaper that gets delivered each Friday. For the past few weeks an ice cream store was running an ad that had a reminder that National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day was on February 1st. I never need an excuse to eat ice cream, so I made sure that the event was on my calendar.

This morning, instead of leisurely eating breakfast at home Hubby Tony and I showered and quickly got ready to leave. At the last minute we decided to divide up a container of blackberries, which we ate on our way to the car. (We also brought our cups of coffee.)

The ice cream store was a ten-minute drive from the condo. When we got close, Tony noticed there were a lot of cars on the street. Then we noticed that the line to get into the shop wrapped around the block.  Neither one of us wanted to wait that long, so we kept going.  While we drove we tried to think of other places that might be celebrating the holiday, but came up short. The best we could do was substitute donuts.

At Strange Donuts we chose three- a Ding Dong, a Fat Elvis (with banana filling and peanut butter frosting), and a King Cake cinnamon roll.  We walked to a nearby park to eat them. Thank goodness we had coffee!

Five years ago today: The Chocolate Hummus Experiment