Saturday, April 30, 2022

Let's All Groan Together

Olaf the Viking Norseman is shopping at a supermarket when he comes across an old lady in a wheelchair, almost in tears.

"What's the matter?" asks Olaf.

"Oh," sobs the old lady. "I want to have a look at the frozen puddings but, as you can see, there are three steps down into the chiller cabinets."

"No problem," says Olaf, lifting her onto his back. "I'll take you."

Olaf strolls through the chiller cabinets with the old lady on his back. She selects several puddings and puts them in the basket he is carrying for her.

At the other end the old lady's husband is waiting with her wheelchair.

"I'd really like to thank you," says the old lady as Olaf sets her back down in the chair, "but I don't even know who you are!"

Olaf just waves and walks off.

"I was really worried about you," says the old lady's husband. "What have you been doing?"

She replies: "Well, I've been through the desserts on a Norse with no name."

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A Beautiful Spring Day Adventure

Today was forecast to have the pick weather of the week, so Hubby Tony and I decided to make it our date day. I researched places that we haven't been yet (a job that gets harder and harder the longer Tony is retired 😀) and emailed him a list with three possibilities. Out of the list he chose Lafayette Square, a historical neighborhood and park in the City of St. Louis.

Tony had an early morning commitment, but when he got home we jumped in the car and drove almost all the way downtown. We got off the interstate, turned left, then made another quick right when we saw the Lafayette Square light pole sign. 

There was plenty of on-street parking. We got out and started our adventure.

Lafayette Park is the heart of the neighborhood. It was the first public park in the St. Louis area (dedicated in 1851), and some say the oldest west of the Mississippi. Houses, row houses, and apartment buildings line the streets encircling the park.

In May of 1896 a tornado leveled much of the area. Many of the residents who lost their homes moved to other, newer areas of the city. After World War 2 the neighborhood declined until urban pioneers began renovating it in the 1970s. Now both the park and streets are beautifully redone.

If I had taken photos of all the buildings I liked my phone memory would have completely filled up. However, these 'painted lady' row houses are one example of what we saw on our walk.


 A townhouse building. I love the roof detail.

I didn't get close enough to this tree to know what type it was, but the mass of flowers were stunning.

Eventually we made our way to the park. Its meandering paths were shaded by huge trees. A pond in the middle had swans, ducks, and way too many Canadian geese. When I tried to get close enough to take a photo of the pond one of them hissed at me and I backed off. However, I managed to get a shot of this guy, sculpted by Bob Cassilly, who was a local artist.

In the southeast corner we found the Park House, which was built in 1867 for use as a police station. Now it's the office for the  Lafayette Square Restoration Committee. I can't imagine any newly-built public building being half this ornate!

Tony and I walked for about 90 minutes, then decided we were hungry. Based partly on the name of this restaurant, we decided to check it out.

Mayo Ketchup serves Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cuban food. The restaurant's name is actually a common dipping sauce for fried food in those cuisines.

Tony's sandwich (on the right) had a 'bun' of large, smashed, twice fried green plantains. It was filled with avocado, lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion, potato sticks, and garlic mayo 

My bowl (on the left) contained white rice, black beans, maduros (fried sweet plantains), tostones (fried green plantain slices), pickled onion, and avocado. We ate until there was nothing left.

After lunch Tony and I agreed that our feet said it was time to head back to the car and head home.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Tart Tisane

Hubby Tony and I drink both coffee and herbal tea. After Tony's has his allotment of coffee for the day he switches over. Except for in the very hot weather, once I'm settled on the couch after diner I make myself a cup. The tea tastes good, and sends a message to my stomach that it's done eating for the day.

Both Tony and I have tried using loose tea with an infuser. but for ease we prefer tea bags. Tony's favorite flavors tend to be mint, camomile, and blends that include ginger. I usually reach for something that includes 'warm' spices like cinnamon or ginger, or something with a tang. I especially enjoy anything that includes hibiscus (the 'zing' in every Zinger tea).

It's easy enough to pick up boxes of herbal tea at the grocery store, but I also enjoy hunting at international markets.  Which is where I found this flavor from Croatia. Five years ago today: A Navy Blue And Black Kind Of Day

Sunday, April 24, 2022


Hubby Tony left Thursday morning for a retreat. Today the retreat ended with a mass, and there was a potluck luncheon afterward. Sunday is Tony's day to cook, but I went ahead and prepared a main dish salad that would be easy to pull out of the refrigerator when it was time to eat.

I made a shopping list, then went to the store and picked up ingredients that weren't already in the house. However, when I got home I realized that I had forgotten to put sliced almonds on the list. I could have turned around and gone back to the store, but decided to investigate alternate methods.

My recipe called for a half cup of sliced almonds. We had a Costco-sized bag of whole almonds in the freezer, so I decided to find out if it was possible to convert whole almonds to sliced. Turns out that following this article, it was easy.

There were just a couple of steps: 

  1. Blanching - I poured boiling water over the almonds and let them sit for five minutes.

  2. Peeling - After soaking, I drained the almonds and let them cool off a little bit. The skin was really loose, and slipped right off.

  3. Slicing - I tried to slice the almonds horizontally, but it was too much work. My slices were thick and uneven. I wasn't trying to impress anyone, so I decided to sliver them vertically.

  4. Toasting - I let the almonds dry out, then toasted the slivers in a small frying pan until they became a nice light brown color.

Preparing the almonds turned out to be the hardest part of the recipe. I mixed them in with the greens, grains, dried cranberries, vinaigrette, and feta then called dinner made.

Five years ago today: My Friend The Frog

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Beating The (Temporary) Heat

Just a couple of days ago the weather was wet and lightweight winter coat chilly. Then overnight it turned into premature summer. Both yesterday and today the temperature got up into the mid-80 degree Fahrenheit. The heat will be short lived. Tonight storms are forecast to come through and tomorrow it will be ten degrees cooler. 

Hubby Tony is gone this weekend, so I was the one who got to make all the house decisions. I could have turned on the air conditioner, but I was enjoying the outside sounds so much I decided to see if I could make it without artificial cooling.

Yesterday I wasn't home much. In the evening I turned on the ceiling fan in the living area, and by bedtime things had cooled off enough that using that ceiling fan on low speed made it the perfect temperature for sleeping. Today the television meteorologist said that it was going to get windier as the day went on, so I did all my outside things mid-morning. When I came home I opened up every window to get a cross breeze going. All afternoon I moved slowly, did little physical work, and drank extra liquids.

I found out that sitting on the upholstered couch was hot (unless you're Jackson the Cat). My body preferred wooden chairs.

After dinner I left the house to meet some friends. I triple verified that the forecasted rain wasn't starting until the middle of the night, then left the windows open. By the time I got back again things had cooled off. It should be another comfortable night.

Five years ago: Mid-Spring Thoughts

Thursday, April 21, 2022

New To Me Nitro

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I went on a day-long bus tour sponsored by the community college. The tour was called Taste of the Neighborhoods, and made stops at a Mexican bakery, a Greek restaurant, an Italian grocery store, and an ice cream shop with a unique method of making their product. They used liquid nitrogen! 

The process was new to me. Here's a video from our local Higher Education Channel that explains it:


Basically, the nitrogen is so cold (-321 degrees Fahrenheit) that the ice cream base flash freezes. They have to use a blow torch to soften it enough to scoop. 

The shop usually makes each batch to order, but with the size of our group they did it in bulk. We had a choice of one of four basic flavors. First, an associate poured base into a deep metal bowl and added flavorings. He set the bowl on a stand mixer, turned it on, then picked up a nitrogen canister and hit the liquid with a blast. Immediately steam poured around and on top of the bowl. The associate let the mixer run for a short while, then picked up the bowl and hit the bottom with a short blast from a blow torch. Someone else took the bowl over to the end of the counter, scooped it into containers, and served it up. 

Because the freezing was so fast, the ice cram was smoother and silkier, with very small ice crystals. I thought it was a lot like frozen custard. It didn't take me long to make the scoop disappear.

Five years ago today: Aves Aperture (Part 2)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Sometimes Simple Is Best

This was today's thought from my page-a-day calendar. It only takes a few words to convey the most important concepts.

How did you use your super power today?

 Five years ago today: Busy, Busy, Busy

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter 2022

Hubby Tony and I had a lovely, relaxing Easter weekend. Yesterday we got together for lunch with extended family members we haven't seen in person for several years. For dinner we walked to a nearby Chinese restaurant, and later in the evening attended our church's Easter Vigil. This morning we slept in. After breakfast we leisurely read the paper, then took a mid-morning walk before the forecasted afternoon rain.  Son Donald came over for dinner. 

With only three people eating I didn't want to make a ham and have a ton left over. When I learned that the temperature was going to be in the low 50s Fahrenheit, I started thinking of nice warm comfort foods. I ended up making Ina Garten's Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables, adding French bread and a simple green salad. 

The lamb made the dish decadent enough to feel holiday special, but the warm, savory sauce was perfect on a gloomy day. Ina's recipe called for three pounds of lamb, but because of the size of the packages at the store I used 2 1/2 pounds, and added roasted brown mushrooms to bulk the dish up. No one complained. There was enough stew left over that dinner is covered for tomorrow night and I was able to send some home with Donald.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

A Happy Accident

Last night Hubby Tony was searching for information about a volunteer project he's working on. I've been involved with the same organization in the past and thought I might have what he was looking for in one of my email folders. Unfortunately, I couldn't help him out, but I did find this powerful poem that I had saved back in November 2006.

I tried to find the author, but my search was unsuccessful. If you know, please pass the information on so I can give them credit.


Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. 
If you did, what would there be to look forward to? 
Be thankful when you don’t know something, 
for it gives you the opportunity to learn. 
Be thankful for the difficult times. 
During those times, you grow. 
Be thankful for your limitations, 
   because they give you opportunities for improvement. 
Be thankful for each new challenge, 
because it will build your strength and character
Be thankful for your mistakes. 
They will teach you valuable lessons. 
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, 
because it means you’ve made a difference. 
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. 
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who 
are also thankful for the setbacks. 
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. 
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, 
and they can become your blessings. 
Author unknown

 Five years ago today: An Easter Adventure

Wednesday, April 13, 2022


Last night I was getting ready to go to a meeting when I realized that my sinuses were full and my nose was drippy. I figured it was spring allergies and popped a pill on my way out the door.  

The allergy pill usually starts working within 20 minutes. However, this time it didn't. My nose and sinuses were miserable all night long, and I left immediately after the meeting instead of staying for the socialization part. By the time I went to bed I realized my issue was more than allergies. Based on the symptoms it was probably a big, honking cold. 

Before I went to bed I found my Neti pot, used it, and took a decongestant, but I still had a miserable night. In the morning, after a hot shower I decided to make sure that my diagnosis was correct by giving myself a Covid test. As I suspected it would, the test came up negative, so I used the Neti pot, took another decongestant, and got on with my day. 

The Mayo Clinic says that adults usually have two or three colds each year, but I haven't had one since the fall of 2020. This one had all the classic symptoms--a punk feeling, a constant clear runny nose, slight sore throat, watery eyes, congestion, and sneezing. If I had a dollar for each time I blew my nose I would be able to take a nice vacation down the line. I'm sure Hubby Tony got tired of listening to the noise.

I laid around the house as much as possible, but when I had to be around people I made sure to wear a mask so I wouldn't spread my germs. I chugged warm water (which kept me running to the bathroom). When I went down to the basement with some trash I rubbed hand sanitizer on the doorknob so someone else wouldn't pick up my germs.

In my experience it takes about a week for a cold to go away, but I'm going to do my best to hurry this one along.Tonight when I go to bed I'll use the Neti pot, rub some Vick's on my chest, take a decongestant, and hope for the best.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A Sign Of Things To Come?

I had a couple of stops to make today. One of them was mailing a package at a post office.

When I entered the post office three windows were open. Two of them had customers; the clerk at the unoccupied one motioned me down to hers. As she went through her spiel I kept thinking something was different. The whole area around her work station looked brighter and more open. Then I realized that this window did not have a plexiglass shield in front of it. something I haven't seen for almost two years.

St. Louis County's mask mandate expired in late February, and the City of St. Louis followed suit in early March. Was this no-plastic barrier workstation another sign of things loosening up? The clerk and I did not discuss the change, but I wondered if she had an opinion about the matter. The National Institutes of Health recommends the use of shields, but some think having a barrier makes things worse

As things continue to open up I wonder if plexiglass-free workplaces are the wave of the future, or if there will be choices.

Five years ago: Aves Aperture

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Ten Times Ten

Today is the 100th day of the year. I spent some time finding different ways to celebrate it.

  • The day started out chilly, and when I left the house at 10:00 to make a Costco run and before church I put on a lightweight jacket. By the time I came out of church a couple of hours later it was warm enough to ditch the jacket. By mid-afternoon I had traded my jeans for shorts. The first pair I grabbed from the drawer fit back in the fall, but today I could only get the zipper up halfway.  After dinner, I measured out one cup (100 calories) worth of grapes for dessert.
  • I've been trying to increase my balance by standing on one leg. My personal best is about 20 seconds, but I set a timer for 100 seconds and alternated from right to left leg until the timer went off.
  • I checked in on the Doomsday Clock, which is still set at 100 seconds.
  • I cranked up the song "100 Days, 100 Nights" by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and danced around the room.

Five years ago today: Raise A Glass

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Fermentation Fun

Starting back in 2012 I made sauerkraut on a pretty regular basis. However, when we moved to our condo the equipment didn't make it upstairs from the storage unit, mainly because he new smaller kitchen doesn't have a good place to keep a crock of fermenting cabbage for the seven to ten days it takes. 

 For my birthday back in January Son Donald gifted me with a fermentation and storage container. I didn't even know something like it existed, but now I don't know what I did without it

The container has an exterior locking lid to help keep the sauerkraut smell contained, and an inner vacuum lid to provide an anaerobic environment. The interior lid has a small plug in the middle that you can open to let out accumulated gasses.

Since receiving my gift I've started made sauerkraut on a regular basis again. The ingredients couldn't be easier-a head of cabbage and some kosher or pickling salt (because the iodine in table salt is a problem for fermentation.) Using a food processor, the job takes about 20 minutes from starting to closing the lid.

The first job is to shred the head of cabbage. Next, I weigh it, add a tablespoon of salt for each 800 grams of cabbage, and massage the two together until the cabbage starts breaking down. Once the cabbage is exuding liquid I pour it into the container.

Sometimes the cabbage is dry and doesn't produce enough liquid. If that happens I mix up a salt/water brine and pour it into the container. The next step is to press the layer of cabbage down with the vacuum seal lid, close the plug, and clip the top lid in place.

Depending on the ambient room temperature it will take somewhere between seven and ten days for the sauerkraut to be done. I'm impatient, so every day I take off the top lid to check on the progress. At the beginning it tastes like raw, oversalted cabbage. As the cabbage shreds turned from green to yellow, the taste changes from raw to 'krauty'. When a taste test decrees the sauerkraut is done I scoop the sauerkraut into a couple of repurposed salsa jars and move it to the refrigerator. 

This sauerkraut is good straight up or as a side dish, but if it gets too hot the probiotic cultures are killed so I take the jar out several hours before a meal so it can come to room temperature. 

Sauerkraut with apple pork sausage link and sweet potato oven fries    

Five years ago: A Single Letter Can Make All The Difference

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Moving Picture At The Movie Theater

Last week a woman I know from church sent an email to several people, asking if we would be interested in attending a preview of Father Stu.  (The invitation came thanks to her brother, who works in the movie promotion business.)  The movie had a couple of big names in it. Mark Wahlberg stars as Father Stu, and Mel Gibson co-stars as his father. Neither Hubby Tony or I had been to a movie preview. I quickly responded and said we would be there.

Then I did some research. I found out that the movie is based on the true story of Stuart Long, who was an amateur boxer before becoming a priest. After an injury ended his boxing career he moved to Hollywood, worked in a grocery store, and had a few on-screen bit performances. He became infatuated with a Catholic woman, began going to church to impress her, and was ultimately baptized. After a horrible motorcycle accident he realized that he wanted to be a priest. Church officials were skeptical, but Stu ultimately entered the seminary. He was diagnosed with an incurable muscle disorder, and died in 2014 four years after he was ordained.

All day long I looked forward to the night's entertainment. In the end there were eleven people in our group. We gathered in the theater lobby a half hour before the film started. We told the ticket taker what we were there for. She directed us around the corner, where we stood in a line of people waiting to enter the theater. A woman came down the line, saying that for anti-piracy reasons we needed to completely power down our phones. When our group reached the head of the line our event organizer gave our names to the usher and he waved all of us through. By the time the movie started the theater was completely full. I put up the foot rest of the comfortable reclining seat and got ready to be entertained. 

I've seen quite a few movies with religious themes, but nothing quite like this one. To start with, it had an R rating (mainly for language-the expletives flowed, but the boxing and accident scenes were also a little intense). The plot was fast moving and uplifting. Stu's conversation story felt real, but in a couple of places the story felt preachy. The movie ended on an upbeat, feel good mode.

Father Stu is being released next weekend. On the way out there was a table where you could stop, scan a QR code, and leave a review, but I passed. It was late, and I was tired. However, I suspect the topic of the movie will come up in conversation as I interact with people and I will be able to speak well about it.

Five years ago: Cyberspace Blunders and Gaffes

Monday, April 4, 2022

A Notable Note

The first Monday of each month Hubby Tony and I volunteer at our parish office to help count the Sunday collection. Our team of four people opens the bags from each mass and dumps the contents into a big pile. That pile is divided into cash, loose checks, and envelopes; the envelopes are further divided into type. Each person takes a category, counts it, then records the information on a sheet. At the end the information from the sheets is transferred to a computer spreadsheet.

For the most part it's routine work. However, today there was a note attached to a folded up dollar bill that made the task a little more memorable.

(In case you can't read it, the note says "Thank you for teaching us so much about God")

I'm not sure who the 'you' the note refers to is, but I sent my photo to the money counting coordinator so she could forward it to the pastor if she thought it would be appropriate.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Collecting Perfect Pieces

Some people enjoy shopping for furniture by walking into a store and buying a complete coordinating set. I'm not one of them.

I'm sure you remember the story of our new loveseats, which led to the need for a square side table. Then the  Queen Anne cherry finish table on the other side didn't mesh. Several weeks later I bought a mid century modern table at an antique mall. Its color was more in line with what I wanted, but I knew that the style made it a temporary substitute.

Nice, but not right

The first night I used it, I discovered that the bottom tier of the table was too low for me to reach over to set a cup on it. I got used to using just the small upper tier, but made an effort to stop by thrift stores, antique malls, and estate sales whenever I had the time. 

Last week I was wending my way through the furniture department of a thrift store and saw something that was the right color and chunky style I was looking for. A quick measure told me that it was the right height, and close enough to the targets for width and length. When I picked it up it was heavy and obviously real wood. The store had labelled as a bookcase, but it looked like my new table to me.

'Right' table (on the left)

 The last piece of the project is a coffee table, then that section of the room will be complete.