Monday, January 30, 2023

Cooking Remotely

Last night the forecast called for a 60% chance of a light snow/sleet/freezing rain mix starting about 6 pm. By the time Hubby Tony and I turned on the news at 9 the highways were a mess--cars sliding off the road, jackknifed trucks and multiple crashes. Because of the issues several highways were closed.

MODOT (the Missouri Department of Transportation) said this morning's rush hour would be a mess, and advised people to not drive unless they had to. That was fine by me, because I didn't have anywhere to be until after lunch, which is when I would head to the church to make supper.

When I rolled out of bed this morning the only traffic sound I heard was a salt truck driving by. I ate breakfast, leisurely read the newspaper and all of the blogs in my feeder, then checked my email and Facebook before I got up from the table. It was lovely.

Two hours later I was tired of being in the house and looking for something to do. The collector road visible from the condo window looked like it was well-cleared, and the presence of a couple of sets of tire tracks on the subdivision street led me to believe that it was safe to go out. I sent a text to both priests at the church indicating that I was planning on being there unless I heard otherwise, then made a trip to the produce market and grocery store. My drive was non-eventful.

When it was time to leave for the church I looked at my phone and discovered two texts. One was from the associate, who asked me to purchase a couple of things for him at the grocery store. The other one was from the pastor, telling me to hunker down at home, and they would be okay without me. Pastor trumps associate, so all of a sudden my day was free.

Tony and I went to the mall and walked, then I came home and took a nap.

However, there was one tiny problem. One of the things I had planned to do at the church rectory was some pre-cooking for Wednesday's staff lunch. The directions on the boxed bar cookies I was serving for dessert called for baking and completely cooling the cookies before frosting. I wouldn't have enough time to do all of that on Wednesday.

After thinking about the issue for a bit I came up with a solution. With the permission of the business manager I logged in from home home long enough to prepare and bake the cookies. I had to use my own pan, butter, and eggs. On Wednesday I will just have to make sure to bring my pan and replacement ingredients home.

Five years ago today: Isn't It Ironic?

Saturday, January 28, 2023

TG And KG 4Ever

Today the weather was more like late March than late January, with a high temperature of almost 60 degrees. Since tomorrow will be back to normal (a high just a little above freezing), Hubby Tony and I decided we needed to get outside.

After looking at the activities going on in the area, we decided on the Fete De Glace Ice Festival in the historic Fifth Street area of St. Charles. Unfortunately, hundreds of people had the same idea we did. The area was packed, and it was hard to see any of the ice carvers at work.

We left the ice festival and walked to the Foundry Art Center. At the door we learned there was a chili and beer festival going on. That did not interest us at all, but we walked through the galleries and I enjoyed seeing the art. One of the areas was called a Graffiti Room. The walls were wrapped with cardboard, and a table in the middle held a large container of markers. Although the cardboard was almost completely covered, there was just enough room for me to add some graffiti of my own.

Five years ago today: Field Trip Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Astrology Advice

Today's newspaper horoscope said:

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)— Today is an 8 — Indulge yourself with household projects. Beautify spaces and nurture your household with hospitality. Reduce clutter. Simplify and clarify. Share domestic treats with family.

The winter weather system that the meteorologists were hyping up for the past few days turned out to be a dud. Instead of the 4-6 inches of snow originally predicted our area got about an inch, and with temperatures just below the freezing mark it didn't take a big rise for things to start melting. By lunchtime most of the streets were snow-free.

However, based on the forecast many schools and entities were cancelled last night or first thing in the morning. The church I work at decided to open the office at noon and passed on the staff lunch that I would normally prepare. Just like that I had a day to do nothing.

In addition to filling up my time with copious amounts internet surfing and computer mah jong, I decided to honor my horoscope by:

  • Cleaning out a jewelry box that I have been meaning to get around to for weeks. I put all the broken and unused pieces in a bag to donate to Monarch Jewelry. When that was done, I filtered through my earring and necklace containers and pulled out anything I didn't think I would use any more. From there I sorted through a few dresser drawers and purged some items.
  • Once again I cleaned off the kitchen island, which was cluttered with receipts and plastic bags. I put everything where it belonged, and found a home for some miscellaneous items.
  • I talked with a friend about a volunteer coordinator job I do (which she used to do some time back) and got some tips about monthly reporting. I learned that my friend had given the last coordinator a formatted document to use. At the beginning of the year the last coordinator had given me a flash drive with all her information. I got busy and never got around to looking at it.

    Rather than recreate the wheel I decided to find that document. However, I couldn't remember where I put the flash drive. While I searched I straightened. By the time I found it, a corner of my office was well-cleaned.
  • I baked a batch of muffins, starting with a container of juice from the freezer that turned out to be pumpkin. I added a scoop of cocoa powder and a teaspoon of cinnamon into the dry oatmeal and whole wheat flour. The two dozen tasty muffins will last for a couple of weeks.
  • For dinner I made some savory oatmeal (four servings-enough for tomorrow night's dinner too). There are definitely benefits to 'sharing domestic treats'.

Five years ago: Lippy

Monday, January 23, 2023

Third-Degree Times Two

You've heard of the Air Force's ultra-high-security, super-secret base in Nevada, known simply as "Area 51"? 

Well, late one afternoon, the Air Force folks out at Area 51 were very surprised to see a Cessna landing at their "secret" base. They immediately impounded the aircraft and hauled the pilot into an interrogation room.

The pilot's story was that he took off from Vegas, got lost, and spotted the base just as he was about to run out of fuel. The Air Force started a full FBI background check on the pilot and held him overnight during the investigation.   

By the next day, they were finally convinced that the pilot really was lost and wasn't a spy. They gassed up his airplane, gave him a terrifying "you-did-not-see-a-base" briefing, told him Vegas was that-a-way and sent him on his way.  

The next day, to the total disbelief of the Air Force, the same Cessna showed up again. Once again, the MP's surrounded the plane...only this time there were two people in the plane.  

The same pilot jumped out and said, "Do anything you want to me, but my wife is in the plane and you have to tell her where I was last night."

Saturday, January 21, 2023


Earlier today Liz at Finding Life Hard? asked if I had heard about what3words. I had not, but Wikipedia told me:

"What3words is a proprietary geocode system designed to identify any location on the surface of the earth with a resolution of about 3 metres (9.8 ft)".
The article goes on to say:
"What3words differs from most location encoding systems in that it uses words rather than strings of numbers or letters, and the pattern of this mapping is not obvious; the algorithm mapping locations to words is protected by copyright."

I had fun playing around with the site. To start, I entered an address in the search box in the upper left hand corner. The search box changed to show the what3words identifier, and a line pointed to the location on the map. I found out that the mall close to my house was, and the grocery store across the street was snap.hails.limbs.The nearby park was descended.topped.frock.

There's an option to share the information via email or social media platforms. You can navigate with several different apps. Signing up for an account lets you save locations and sync the information across devices.
Five years ago today: Time For Some Updates

Friday, January 20, 2023

Y Not?

Hubby Tony and I have been members of a local multi-branch gym since 2009. I like it because they have a nice selection of aerobic machines, weight machines, and group exercise classes. If I want to, I can find a branch just about any direction my errands take me. 

In October the branch I use most frequently started a renovation process. Each day I went in it was interesting to see what had changed. Two portable restroom trailers (one for men and one for women) were set up outside the back door to replace the now non-existent locker rooms. The Cardio Theater room was closed, and then encased behind sheets of plastic. The Spinning room went dark.

Shortly before Thanksgiving I received a message that the location was going to temporarily close so they could complete the work in a more timely fashion. There was a promise it would be open again at the first of the year. We could have put a freeze on our account, but instead we went to other branches sporadically, then left town for the holidays. We got back home one week into the new year, but the location was still closed. When I looked into the issue I learned the reopening date was now mid-February. 

Last week Tony and I went out to dinner with some friends and learned they were getting ready to join the YMCA. At that point changing gyms hadn't even occurred to me, but the more Tony and I talked about it the more sense it made. I had fond memories of a Y family membership we had years ago, but at our old house the closest location wasn't particularly convenient. However, at our new house there is a branch just three miles away. Earlier this week Tony and I toured the facility, then decided to join. 

I've now gone a couple of times-once for a group exercise class, and once to use the aerobic and weight machines. Both experiences were positive. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the aquatic classes and doing some water walking in the pool.

The Y membership is month to month. The auto payment for our current gym won't happen for a couple of weeks, so we have a little time to decide which place works best for us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Adventures In Instant Pot Cooking

You may remember that on Wednesday I prepare staff luncheon for a church. Today's menu was chicken stew served over polenta, green salad, and bread. One of the staff was celebrating their birthday, so dessert was a store-bought chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles.

On my way there I stopped at the grocery store to purchase ingredients. I had just started arranging those ingredients on the kitchen island when the associate priest walked in.

He asked what was on the menu. I told him.

He asked how I was preparing the stew.

It sounded like the question had an ulterior motive, so I asked if he had any suggestions. As a matter of fact he did, saying that his Instant Pot would do a great job.

I had never thought about preparing stew that way, but was intrigued with the concept. I received an Instant Pot five years ago. Since that time I've used it on a regular basis, but predominantly for cooking rice, lentils, and dried beans. My stew 'recipe' was more like an idea floating around in my head than an actual recipe, but I suspected the priest would be disappointed if I didn't use his toy, and I'm nothing if not flexible so I told him I would give it a try.

He beamed, pulled out his phone and searched, then started giving me cooking suggestions. The information was coming much too fast, so I told him I would figure it out and see him in a couple of hours when it was time to eat.

After he left I did my own Google search and I decided my inspiration recipe would be the one that had "Best" in it's title. I used the inspiration recipe more for cooking times than for actual ingredients. My dish had boneless chicken thighs, onion/garlic, carrots, and celery. (And at the end, when the ratio of liquid to solids was off I threw in some leftover oven fried potato chunks from Sunday's breakfast.) The liquid was a combination of cream of chicken soup, a partial jar of pizza sauce from the refrigerator, white wine, and chicken broth.

This Instant Pot had a different pressure release regulator valve than mine, but I found the priest and he showed me how it worked. After I sauteed the vegetables, put the rest of the ingredients in, and sealed the lid on, it took 25 minutes for the pot to come to pressure and cook, with another 15 minutes for steam release. At the end I mixed in a corn starch slurry that added an additional five minutes.

After the meal was over there wasn't much stew left over so I'm considering that a success.

Five years ago today: A Wrong Remark

Monday, January 16, 2023

Opposite Intent

A contronym is a word with two opposite (contradictory) meanings. The words can be homonyms (words with similar spelling or pronunciation) or antonyms (words with opposite meaning). Some examples: 

  • Bill: A payment, or an invoice for payment
  • Bolt: To secure, or to flee 
  • Bound: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement 
  • Consult: To offer advice, or to obtain it 
  • Custom: A common practice, or a special treatment 
  • Dust: To add fine particles, or to remove them  
  • Finished: Completed, or ended or destroyed 
  • First degree: Most severe in the case of a murder charge, or least severe in reference to a burn 
  • Garnish: To furnish, as with food preparation, or to take away, as with wages 
  • Give out: To provide, or to stop because of a lack of supply 
  • Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement 
  • Hold up: To support, or to impede 
  • Left: Remained, or departed 
  • Model: An exemplar, or a copy 
  • Out: Visible, as with stars showing in the sky, or invisible, in reference to lights 
  • Overlook: To supervise, or to neglect 
  • Oversight: Monitoring, or failing to oversee 
  • Peer: A person of the nobility, or an equal 
  • Put out: Extinguish, or generate 
  • Puzzle: A problem, or to solve one 
  • Quantum: Significantly large, or a minuscule part 
  • Refrain: To desist from doing something, or to repeat 
  • Rent: To purchase use of something, or to sell use 
  • Sanction: To approve, or to boycott 
  • Scan: To peruse, or to glance 
  • Screen: To present, or to conceal 
  • Skinned: Covered with skin, or with the skin removed 
  • Splice: To join, or to separate 
  • Temper: To soften, or to strengthen 
  • Throw out: To dispose of, or to present for consideration 
  • Transparent: Invisible, or obvious 
  • Trim: To decorate, or to remove excess from 
  • Trip: A journey, or a stumble 
  • Unbending: Rigid, or relaxing 
  • Variety: A particular type, or many types 
  • Wear: To endure, or to deteriorate 
  • Weather: To withstand, or to wear away 
  • Wind up: To end, or to start up

Can you think of any others? 

Five years ago: Adventure Is Where You Find It

Friday, January 13, 2023

When The 13th Day Of The Month Falls On A Friday...

Someone pointed out to me the other day that any month that began on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th. (Which is logical when you think about it.) I researched the frequency of Friday the 13ths, and learned that:
"Any month in the Gregorian Calendar that begins on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th, and there is at least one Friday the 13th in every year. A single calendar year can have up to three Friday the 13ths."

I also learned that when a non-leap year starts on a Thursday, the months of February, March, and November will have a Friday the 13th. Leap years can have three Friday the 13ths (in January, April, and July) if January 1st falls on Sunday.

Five years ago today: On the Money

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Not Perfect, But Okay

 It's been a year since Hubby Tony and I had new seating delivered for the living room and I started the search for side tables to go with it.  I soon found Mission-style square and rectangular tables, but the right coffee table eluded me.

The two love seats were placed at ninety degree angles to each other, and when the foot rests are pushed up there isn't a lot of room in the area between them. Tony and I did some measuring, and figured that a table between 34 and 36 inches long would fit well, and a height of 16 inches would make it easy to lean over to set a drink on the table and easy for Jackson the Cat's arthritic legs to jump up on.  
Of course a style that matched the decor would be preferable, but I was willing to settle for something that met the size requirements while I kept looking for something better. I searched Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, furniture stores, thrift stores, and antique malls off and on. Nothing. 

On Tuesday the weather was more like mid-April than mid-January. Tony and I ended up just across the Missouri River in downtown St. Charles. We walked west for a short while on the Katy Trail, then turned and headed back east on the street towards the car. 

Front and back
The area has multiple antique malls. When we popped into the first one we walked past I saw what was tagged as a 'cabinet on wheels'. The black cabinet did not have a back (but would be good for storage), was obviously homemade, and attached to a piece of white-painted wood, but the shape and size was right. I know from past experience that anything can be repainted if necessary.

The cabinet had a price tag of $15. I thought that was a fair price, but at antique stores you never purchase without at least asking about a discount. When I asked the clerk if the price was firm, she pointed out that booth was selling all their merchandise for 50 percent off. Holy cow! For $7.50 the cabinet could be ours.

I had left my purse back in the car, so Tony paid for the table and told the clerk we would be back for it in a bit. We continued our walk back to the car, stopping for a cup of coffee along the way.

We picked up the car and backtracked to the antique mall. The cabinet was more awkward to carry then heavy. It fit easily into the back of Tony's car. When we got home Tony carried the cabinet upstairs and set it in the laundry room so I could give it a good cleaning. After it dried off I moved it to the living room. The cabinet fit perfectly in the space it needed to. Later that night it also got the Jackson seal of approval.

The cabinet is good enough for now, but I will continue looking for something better.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

When I'm Sixty Four

My theme song for the next year. (And, as a side note. today is my fifteen year anniversary of blogging. How did that happen?!?)

Five years ago today: Here's To Many More

Monday, January 9, 2023

Clean Off Your Desk (Or Something Else) Day

Today was yet another "day".


I can't usually say this, but today my desk was in good shape and didn't need a cleaning. I tidied it just before Hubby Tony and I left for our trip, and we've only been back for two days. I haven't had time to re-clutter it yet. 

However, the kitchen island, my alternative landing spot for clutter, was a mess. There was a gift bag holding a Christmas present from a downstairs neighbor that the cat sitter brought in while we were gone, a pile of papers, some of yesterday's mail, a couple of grocery store receipts, and some coupons.

I checked with Google and didn't see a 'holiday' for cleaning off a kitchen island, so I decided to substitute that surface for the one in the office. It took me ten minutes to get the miscellany put where it belonged. When I was done the top of the island was pristine.

Five years ago today: Sound Off

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Airports And Airlines

On my last post Strayer left a comment asking about the plane flight to get to and from California. 

Free SVG

A non-stop flight takes four and a half hours. When Hubby Tony and I started making the trip in 2016 those were much easier to find. More often than not we end up choosing a flight with one change of planes. (On this last flight the posted extra time for this was a little under two hours.)

However, we've learned the posted time isn't always accurate. For our route Southwest is the cheapest and most convenient carrier option, and if you've followed current events you know they had all kinds of issues around the holidays. Our nonstop Christmas Eve flight took off an hour late, because at the last minute they had to find an extra flight attendant. However, after hearing the horror stories I feel fortunate that in the scheme of things our delay was minor.

On the way home we flew into San Diego, then got on another plane for the rest of the trip. Unfortunately, shortly before it was time to board there was an announcement that second plane did not pass the mechanical screening. They towed an unused one to an adjacent gate, had the crew go through the standard safety check, then allowed boarding. That process took about an hour. I would have liked to get some steps in during the down time, but the terminal is small and cramped with not a lot of room to move around, so I passed the time talking with fellow passengers. 

As annoying as the delays are, though, if it means a chance to see our kids and grandchildren I would (and will) do it again in a heartbeat.

Saturday, January 7, 2023


Hubby Tony and I just returned from a trip to California. While we were there we got to see both families, hug and play with all the grandchildren (including six-week old grandson Cee). It was wonderful to be away, but also wonderful to get back.

When I was packing up my suitcase yesterday I realized that my new iPad still didn't have a case. I didn't want it to get scratched up, so I grabbed a Ziploc bag and slid it inside. The result looked pretty silly, but it served the purpose.  On the plane I was able to tap away through the plastic without any worries.

Five years ago: A Perfect Date For Cuddling

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Sizes Growing Smaller

I recently pulled out an old recipe, and noticed that all of the canned goods it called for came in 16 ounce cans. However, now the cans on the store shelf are 14.5 ounces. That's just one example of shrinkflation--when the price of items stays the same, but the amount you get goes down. 

The practice has been going on for years, but last year it seemed to accelerate.

  • A couple of weeks ago I was buying ice cream for a party. All of the standard brands used to come in half-gallon containers. Now those containers are 1.5 quarts. One container wasn't enough for my event, so I had to buy two and have a lot left over.
  • For the sake of my waistline I try not to buy potato chips, but every once in a while a bag jumps into my cart. The bags used to be 16 ounces. Now they're 12.
  • When I still had children living at home I was forever buying stacks of Aldi frozen pizzas. Back then they were 16 ounces. Now, depending on the style they're somewhere between an ounce and two ounces less. 
  • The off-brand rolls of toilet paper we use now have incrementally fewer sheets per roll. We don't use paper towels, but I've heard from friends that their rolls are also smaller.

What about you? Have you come across any favorite products that have shrunk? Please share.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

New Year's Resolutions for Absolutely Everyone

One of the memories that Facebook offered me this morning was a post from seven years ago that came from the page of Fr. James Martin. I thought it was worth sharing with a wider audience. 

New Year's Resolutions for Absolutely Everyone

1.) Be Kind. That means...

2.) Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. After all, why not? Everyone is carrying around some sort of burden. Usually one that you don't even know about. So give them a break. Even if they're being unreasonable....

3.) Especially when you're talking about them with someone else. Honor the absent, as the saying goes. Spiritually speaking, it's essential. It's part of charity. Practically speaking, it makes sense too. Why? First, because you'll feel crummy about yourself afterwards. Second, because the person you're complaining to will probably see you as negative. Finally, it will inevitably get back to them. More to the point, it's mean.

4.) Don't be a jerk. There is simply no need to be. At all. Zero. Just because you're having a rotten day doesn't mean you have to pass it along your misery to someone else. It's important to share your struggles with friends. Essential. But being in a bad mood is no excuse to be a jerk. If you feel your moving into that territory, ask yourself a simple question, "Am I being a jerk?" If you're somehow unable to discern that, the look on other people's faces will tell you.

5.) Give a call, pay a visit, or send a note to someone who is sick, lonely, struggling. It will cost you nothing, but will mean everything to them. Think of how you feel when someone reaches out.

6.) Release yourself from that grudge. In other words, forgive. It's ridiculous to hold onto things for so long. It eats away at you like a cancer, and it poisons the other person's life. It also, most likely, serves to turn them against you even more. You think you are justified in being mad? You probably are. People can be jerks. But there are probably people justified in holding a grudge against you, too. So just let it go.

7.) Stop being so sarcastic. A little of that goes too far. You may think you're being Oscar Wilde, but you're often just being mean. Sarcasm can be an effective antidote to pomposity, but sometimes it's just cruel.

8.) Listen patiently to someone who is long-winded, or boring, or, especially. complaining. They're usually insecure, lonely or in pain. Your listening is a gift to them. It may mean that you're the only person they have to talk to. Yes, it's hard. But God sees what you're doing. And, after all, people have to listen to you.

9.) Help someone who is really needy. A homeless person. A poor person. A refugee. A sick person. A grieving person. It's not hard to figure out how to do it. And if you don't know anyone like that, write a check. That's not so hard either. Helping doesn't require an advanced degree.

10.) Be kind. Did I mention that? It bears repeating, because if you are kind, then you'll make a lot of people happy in the New Year. Yourself too. And God.

Five years ago today: An A-Cute Cough (Not)