Sunday, November 28, 2021

Handy High Tech

Right now I drive a 2014 Honda CR-V. It does everything I need it to do, and I have no reason to trade it in for something else, but today when I had the opportunity to drive a current model year Honda Accord it was pretty cool to see how many more bells and whistles they put into vehicles now.

The car had a keyless start system (which I know is pretty common, but not something I've ever had). It was nice keep the fob out of my purse except when it was time to lock or unlock the car. The back-up camera was much fancier than the one I have now, with a wider angle and better resolution.

This car sensed what the road speed was, and if I went over that number a little speed limit sign popped up on the dashboard to remind me to slow down. Not only was there cruise control, but it sensed when traffic ahead of me was slowing down and modified itself. If I accidentally moved even slightly out of the center of the lane (which happened often until I got the hang of the vehicle) the dashboard would display a large warning. If I had wanted to, I could have plugged my phone in and have it integrate with the car system to get directions, do hands-free phone calls, or get texts. Thankfully, I didn't need to take advantage of the fancy tire pressure monitoring system, brake assist, or traction control, but it was all there if I needed it.

If new cars now have all these bells and whistles, I wonder how many more will be available when I actually get around to buying a new one?

Five years ago today: Pretty Poinsettias

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Traditional With A Twist

When Hubby Tony and I married in 1980 our house became the gathering place for Thanksgiving dinners. A year or two later my mom brought a Pyrex cake pan with a filled with a recipe she got from a co-worker. The Cranberry Jello (a two-layer concoction of red: cranberry sauce, crushed pineapple, walnuts, and white: whipped topping, cream cheese, and miniatures marshmallows) was a hit. After she died I became the designated maker, and now that the family is scattered around the country the recipe has been equally dispersed.

This year I had to make two changes to the recipe. Because of some nut allergies, 'safe' macadamias took the place of problematic walnuts. Those round macadamias were challenging to work with, because they kept rolling around the cutting board, but eventually I managed to chop them into small pieces. Miniature marshmallows were impossible to find, so Tony and I tore conventional sized marshmallows into appropriate-sized pieces. The pieces were messy to work with; they stuck to our fingers and each other, but mixed well enough into the other white ingredients.

The final dish was deemed a success. We may have started a new tradition.

Five years ago today: Thanksgiving Groaners

Monday, November 22, 2021

Refrigerator Cleaning Gratitude

Yesterday our refrigerator was looking pretty empty. Before I went to the store and brought home food to fill it up again I decided it would be a good time to give it a good cleaning.

It's been months since the last full interior cleaning. I would do the job more often, but it's kind of a big deal. The refrigerator fits snugly into a cubby between the cabinets and a wall. The door doesn't open wide enough to allow the shelves to come out unless the entire refrigerator is pulled out a couple of feet. Washing and rinsing the bulky shelves and bins in the sink is always a challenge, and I inevitably end up with water on the counter, floor, and myself.

I filled the sink with warm soapy water, then took out the shelves one by one, transferring items to the island as necessary. I washed and dried each shelf, returned them to the correct space, and restocked them with items. I did the same thing with the meat and crisper bins and the door racks.

While I moved the fruits and vegetables in and out of their bins I realized I was grateful to be able to have so many options available for fresh produce. As I rearranged the condiments on the door racks I appreciated the reminder that we are able to purchase specialty ingredients. The large number of soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, ketchup, and mustard packets were visible signs that Hubby Tony and I are lucky enough to be able to treat ourselves to meals out.

After the job was complete I dried up the cleaning mess and stood back to admire my work. The inside of the unit gleamed, and everything was neatly arranged inside. I pushed the refrigerator back into its cubby and called it a day. The freezer section (which is nicely full right now) could wait until another day.

Five years ago today: The Gift Of Not Giving A Thing

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Sunbeam Schemes

November  20, 2021 - 1:54 pm

The people who live here think I'm just a cute bedside table lamp. I hope they never figure out my secret evil sunbeam personality.

 Five years ago today: Killing Leaves

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold, And Not Too Busy

Not that I'm complaining, but this week Mother Nature can't make up her mind which month it is. The temperature has been more like mid-October than mid-November, with highs in the upper 60s F. That will change later today, when a cold front comes through and bumps those highs down to the upper 40s tomorrow.

Hubby Tony and I decided to take advantage of the warmth and visit the Missouri Botanical Garden. Although there was very little in bloom, the Japanese Garden still had some beautiful color.

We arrived shortly after the gardens opened at 9 am. On our way out of the visitor's center we noticed a sign for a docent-led walking tour at 10 and decided to take advantage of it. Tony and I made one lap around the grounds on our own before heading back to he visitor's center. Unlike some of our other trips to the garden, the weather today was perfect for strolling. And probably because most plants are past their blooming stage there were very few people there.

Back in the visitor's center the tour guide was standing right next to the sign. No one else showed up, so for the next hour we got a personalized tour. The docent pointed out some of his favorite areas and shared interesting tidbits about the garden's history. At the end of the tour he encouraged us to come back for the Garden Glow (a holiday nighttime illuminated stroll) or any of the member events.

Five years ago today: Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Food Prepared And Served Quickly

Did you know that today was National Fast Food Day? Hubby Tony and I celebrated by eating lunch at  Five Guys

He ordered a hot dog. I got a veggie sandwich. We split some peanuts and an order of fries. And a chocolate peanut butter milkshake 😊.

After the tasty but unhealthy meal we both made sure we got plenty of exercise and had a healthy dinner.

Carlos via Flickr

Five years ago today: It's A Real Challenge

Sunday, November 14, 2021

I Would Never Make It As A Food Blogger

Last night Hubby Tony and I were invited to a neighbor's driveway for a potluck. I was excited to receive the invitation a couple of weeks ago. Even though we've lived in our condo for almost two years, thanks to Covid the only people I've really met are the ones in our building.

The invitation said to bring a favorite dish or dessert, and whatever we wanted to drink. I wanted to make something easy which wouldn't need to stay warm, because I figured the food would be served outside. After spending some time poking around the internet for ideas I decided that Potato Salad Bites (small potatoes hollowed out and refilled with potato salad) would do the trick.

There were a lot of interpretations of the recipe but I used a Betty Crocker one as my inspiration. The first step is to roast potatoes. Next you cut them in half, scoop out the insides, mix that with potato salad ingredients, then stuff the mixture back into the skins. I changed up the recipe slightly by adding the recommended chopped up green onions into the mixture instead of using them as a topping.

The project took longer than I anticipated, mainly because the potatoes needed extra time to bake. I scurried around putting the finishing touches on the dish, then scurried around putting the finishing touches on myself. When it was time to leave I put on my heavy winter coat and grabbed the tray from the refrigerator.

It was already brisk at 4 pm when we walked around the corner. The hostess had a couple of fire pits in the driveway; each had a large pile of wood next to it. A row of tables was arranged down the middle of the garage, and the cabinets on the side of the garage held more dishes. I put my tray down and explained what it was. 

I should have brought a little sign with the name of the dish, because when the food was served people commented on how 'cute' the bites looked, but no one knew what they were. I explained again. Someone ate a one and commented on how good it was. Later, when I went back for dessert I overheard one woman telling another "I don't know why made them, but you have to try these little potatoes". I identified myself as the maker, and briefly explained the recipe.

Tony and I had to leave early because we had a second commitment. Out of the 24 bites I brought there were only four left. I transferred them to another plate so I could take my platter home. It wasn't until I was walking into my place that I realized that I forgot to take a photo of my dish, a requisite of any foodie post.

Five years ago today: Good Luck And A Lush Lawn

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thank You For Your Service......But Not You

Today is Veteran's Day, a Federal holiday that honors military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. When Hubby Tony was still working he had the day off, and we would work hard to come up with some type of adventure. Now that he's retired and on endless vacation there was less pressure to make today memorable. We both had a list of things we wanted to accomplish, so after breakfast we went our separate ways.

I started in the kitchen, getting the pumpkin that decorated our door for Halloween ready for roasting. After I cleaned up that mess I decided to go get my hair cut at a nearby walk-in hair salon. The salon offers the option of checking in online. I found out there was a 12 minute wait-just enough time for me to get my shoes on, get in the car, and drive the mile to the location.

When I walked in I noticed the monitor that listed the people who had checked in had four names on it. I was second on the list.. There were three beauticians working, and just about the time I sat down and got comfortable one of them called my name. As we walked to her station I mentioned how busy the salon was, and learned that they were giving veterans a free haircut today.

My simple haircut took ten minutes. As I was at the cash register checking out I noticed that there were four new people checked in. I  wonder how many of them would not be paying?

Five years ago today: Display Anew

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Chance Commemoration

November is a quarter of the way over. For the past week we've been haing some nice weather, with highs in the mid-60s. That will be changing later in the week, so while we can Hubby Tony and I have been getting out and around to enjoy it. Today we were in Alton, Illinois completing another chapter of our scavenger hunt book.

The book showcases three cities across the river (Alton, Belleville, and Edwardsville). Alton is the one Tony and I are the most familiar with, which helped us to find a lot of the locations suggested by the book's clues. However, there are also always some new-to-us places. 

One of those new places was the Elijah P. Lovejoy monument. Lovejoy was a newspaper editor and abolitionist who was killed defending his right to print antislavery material in the period leading up to the Civil War. His monument is on the edge of the city cemetery.

When we arrived at the monument there were several other people there. Someone was setting up a portable speaker and microphone, and it looked like a young man was getting ready to speak into it. While Tony and I were looking up at the top of the monument a woman came up and handed us programs. It turns out that they were getting ready to have an annual Lovejoy Day ceremony, which would have speeches and a wreath laying. 

It would have been interesting to stay around for the ceremony, but Tony and I were on a short time frame. Rather than leave in the middle of the program we chose to get out of there before it started.

Five years ago today: I Voted Today!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Noisy Neighbor Issues

As part of my commitment as the secretary for a state-wide fellowship, this weekend I was in Jefferson City for a business meeting. The meeting was hybrid; attendees could choose to attend either on Zoom or in-person. The in-person portion took place in a small sectioned-off portion of a hotel ballroom. 

Everything was going swimmingly until midway through the Saturday afternoon session. All of a sudden a patriotic concert band in the next section of the ballroom started practicing. Their music came clearly through the partition into our area.

Although the music was annoying, it was also fun. I was dancing in my seat while listening to "The U.S. Air Force" ("Wild Blue Yonder") song. A little later I went to the microphone to make a comment while "The Star Spangled Banner" was playing, and I felt like I should march up instead of walk. 

However, I don't think everyone had the same opinion as me. Our organization's contact with the hotel scrambled to see if the problem could be fixed, but couldn't find anyone with authority to do something. The person running the sound system had to work hard raise and lower the microphone volume as the music started and stopped. 

After about 20 minutes the music stopped permanently. It was replaced by a light hum of people conversing in the room, a much more pleasant background.

Five years ago today: The Talking Cuckoo Clock

Saturday, November 6, 2021


The leaves are fading and falling; 
The winds are rough and wild; 
The birds have ceased their calling– 
But let me tell you, my child, 
Though day by day, as it closes, 
Doth darker and colder grow, 
The roots of the bright red roses 
Will keep alive in the snow. 
And when the winter is over, 
The boughs will get new leaves, 
The quail come back to the clover, 
And the swallow back to the eaves. 
 The robin will wear on his bosom
A vest that is bright and new, 
And the loveliest wayside blossom 
Will shine with the sun and dew. 
The leaves today are whirling; 
The brooks are all dry and dumb– 
But let me tell you, my darling, 
The spring will be sure to come. 
There must be rough, cold weather, 
And winds and rains so wild; 
Not all good things together 
Come to us here, my child. 
So, when some dear joy loses
Its beauteous summer glow,
Think how the roots of the roses 
Are kept alive in the snow. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

I Live In A World Of Wonder

We've lived in our condo building since January 2020. That's a long time, but there's still things that surprise me.

 This morning I was carrying some boxes from the second floor to my car in the basement. Coming down the flight of stairs from the second floor I caught a glimpse of this fascinating shadow:

 The sun was coming through the window on the first floor landing on the east side of the building, and it's angle showcased the branches of the nearly-naked tree just outside the window. If I hadn't been looking for it I would have completely missed the beauty.

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Just a Tuesday In Retirement

After breakfast and the daily household straightening, Hubby Tony and  I started out our morning by going to the polls. There was only item on the ballot, no line at the polling place, and we had both figured out where we stood on the issue. We were in and out in less than ten minute.

Next, we headed east to find clues in two chapters of our scavenger hunt book. One of them was Soulard, a neighborhood just to the south of downtown. The other one was downtown itself. When we started today we had both chapters a little over halfway done. After a couple of hours of sleuthing today both are almost finished.

Halfway through our downtown adventure we stopped for lunch at a soda fountain restaurant. After our savory food (hot dog and onion onion rings for me, BLT and fries for Tony) we ordered dessert. Tony chose a root beer float. I went for a "Freak Shake", one of the most over the top items on the menu. The rim of the large glass was crusted with miniature chocolate chips and potato chips. The bottom of the glass was coated with chocolate sauce. The vanilla shake was topped with a heavy layer of whipped cream, and a chocolate-covered pretzel rod, brownie, and Reeses were stuck into the whipped cream. 

I don't know if I should be proud or ashamed to report that between Tony and me we finished off all of his float and everything but the brownie on mine.