Saturday, February 25, 2023

Culinary Adventures At The Mall

Last August the food court at mall close to our house dedicated one of the stalls to pop-up restaurants.  The concept was slow to get started, but since the beginning of the year it's been occupied almost continually.

A pop up is there for a week. Hubby Tony and I like to support small businesses, so we've been trying to get there for each one. Some times it's for a snack, and others a full meal. While we're ordering I like to talk with the business owners to find out their back story and if they have a current brick and mortar or food truck presence. After we've eaten we make sure to go back and thank them. Over the past month we've shared:

Vegan "chicken nuggets" tossed with an addictive garlic and oil sauce:

Freshly fried beef and vegetable empanadas:

A gooey butter cake egg roll with vanilla ice cream:

And tonight's dinner-a hamburger, Philly steak sandwich, and an order of fries topped with garlic aioli and Parmesan cheese:

 Last week I noticed the list of pop ups only went through the end of the month. When we asked tonight I learned that the month of March was full; the mall just hadn't put up a sign yet. I can't wait to find out what culinary adventures are in store.

Five years ago: Not So Humdrum Dinner

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Good For Everyone

Hubby Tony and I joined the YMCA just in time for their Annual Campaign, which raises funds for scholarships and projects. The solicitation has been nicely low-key-- information posted in the common areas, volunteers standing in the lobby asking if we would like to donate, an opportunity to take a special Zumba class with the suggested donation going to the campaign, and flyers advertising the upcoming rubber duck race taking place in the pool (followed by a display of rubber ducks on the registration desk).

Last week's activity was an online auction. The items were a mixture of things and experiences. I registered and put bids on a couple things that interested me. The online system had a feature that sent me a text when someone topped my bid. I knew what the maximum amount I would pay for each item, so I would either ignore the text or submit a higher offer.  

When the auction ended I found out I had won one item, a collection of Starbucks bean coffee and two cups (one regular, one thermal). Today I picked it up.

 I got a deal, paying approximately half the retail price.The Y got money for their programs. Win-win.

Five years ago today: An Early Sign Of Spring

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Boyfriend Upgrade

From a friend....

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a slowdown in the overall performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications that had operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. 

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, but installed undesirable programs such as NFL 5.0 and NBA 3.0. Now Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and House Cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. 

What can I do?  

Signed, Desperate 


Dear Desperate!

First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.  However, here are some suggestions. 

At the command line, try entering C:\ITHOUGHTYOULOVEDME and download Tears 6.2 to install Guilt 3.0. If all works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But, remember, overuse can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy-Silence 2.5, Happy-Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1. Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will create snoringLoudly.wav files. Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-Law 1.0 or re-install another Boyfriend program. These are not supported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have a limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Cooking 3.0 and Lingerie 9.9. 

Regards, Tech Support 

Five years ago today: Test....Test....

Monday, February 20, 2023

Observing Presidential Birthdays

February is a confusing month for presidential birthday holidays.

Abraham Lincoln's birthday is February 12th. Some states, including Missouri, celebrated it as a state holiday on the 13th. It is not a Federal holiday. George Washington's actual birthday is February 22, but in 1968 the Federal Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved it to the third Monday in February. The day soon became known as Presidents' Day,. As Wikipedia says, the day:

"provides an occasion to remember all U.S. presidents, to honor Abraham Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays together, or any single president of choice."

However, officially Missouri still calls the day Washington's Birthday. Confused? 

In my mind, as long as I get the day off it doesn't matter what it's called. Both of the priests at the parish I work at had plans, so I didn't have to go cook dinner. The temperature was forecast to hit the mid-60 degree Fahrenheit range. Hubby Tony and I wanted to plan an outside adventure, maybe something that also included a road trip.

We couldn't find any interesting official Washington's Birthday or Presidents' Day events, but we did some out of the box thinking and decided to head to the city of Washington, Missouri and make our own celebration.

Washington is a historical town along the Missouri River with a small downtown area. Our plan was to walk around, pop into shops that interested us, and maybe get dessert to go along with the lunch that we were bringing from home. (I thought that cherry pie would be a nice tie in to the George Washington cherry tree myth.)

Tony and I pulled into town at 10:00 AM, right when independently owned stores usually open up. However, it didn't take long to figure out that many of them had signs indicating they were no longer open on Mondays, and some others were closed for the holiday. 

We made the best of it, though, by walking along a riverfront trail. The area was quiet, scenic, and serene. I went from having my lightweight winter coat all the way zipped up, to halfway zipped up, to taking it off. While I walked I munched on the finger food lunch, and by the time we got back to the starting point it was gone. We never found a place to get dessert, but before we started back home a cafe was happy to sell us cups of coffee to go.

Five years ago today: Fun With The Health Kiosk

Sunday, February 19, 2023

What's On Your Camera Roll?

When I see something unique or unconventional I'll whip out my phone and take a snapshot. The downside of doing that is that eventually my photo app gets overloaded and it's time to purge some photos. Before I get rid of them forever I thought I'd share some of the oddball ones with you. Normally I wouldn't post someone's personal information, but I have to think that if you choose a license plate like this you're looking for attention. (Make sure you start by reading the bumper sticker next to the plate.)

Why am I so drawn to bathroom decorations?  I can't even remember where I saw this one, but the message is spot on.

Shoebox cards are humorous, so it doesn't surprise me thay found a cute way to say the store is out of a style.
I saw this entry when Hubby Tony and I were walking in a historic neighborhood the other day. Take a look at the stairs! Each step was made from a concrete block of decreasing size. I didn't see any adhesive holding the steps together, and when you look closely you'll see that there are brown planter boxes in the middle of two of them.

Five years ago today: The Presidents, Explained

Thursday, February 16, 2023


After finishing a three-year term as secretary for a fellowship, at the end of last year I was elected to maintain the group records for the next three years. Most of the work is computer-based, but I have to give a report at each of the four yearly business meetings.

The first meeting is next month, and I've already started pulling my thoughts together. Instead of just standing at the podium and speaking I decided some of the information would be easier to convey via PowerPoint. I've barely ever used the program, but after playing around with it I've come up with some slides that convey the necessary facts.

This morning one of my fellow volunteers sent me a cool-looking chart that did a great job of summarizing some of the key points I need to pass on. The chart was a PDF document, which means it couldn't be edited with the software I have. I tried running the file though an online converter, but the graphics came out so jumbled they were unrecognizable. I decided to try to make a chart myself using Word. It took me quite a while to figure out how to do it, but at the end I was proud of my work. After patting myself on the back I added the chart to my slide deck.

This is what it looked like (with the real wording replaced).

Five years ago: What Is Your Investing Spirit Animal?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Flowers And Fun

When I came into the kitchen this morning there was a beautiful flower arrangement and a small box of chocolate covered strawberries from Hubby Tony waiting for me on the island. I walked back to the bedroom and retrieved the box of decadent cookies for him I had hidden in my dresser drawer. We agreed that since it was Valentine's Day we could break into the sweets before breakfast.

After breakfast was cleaned up and the morning chores done we got ready to leave the house. Two weeks ago I made reservations for us at the Botanical Garden. We try to get there once a month, but today our main goal was to see the Orchid Show.

The temperature was lightweight winter coat warm, but there was a light rain falling as Tony pulled into the parking lot. We walked briskly into the building and a docent scanned our tickets. The garden just opened a fancy new visitor's center, and the conservatory where the show was held was in a far corner of the building. The displays were arranged on both sides of a path that meandered around the room. Sometimes smaller specimens were displayed together:

 Sometimes the flowers were positioned in large swaths. These Dancing Lady orchids always make me smile. They look like they're flying through the sky:
Doesn't this one look like it's been tie dyed?

 After we walked through the show we realized that the rain had stopped so we went outside and walked around the garden. Other than a few staff members who were working, the garden was completely empty. I felt like it was our own private paradise. 

By this point we were getting hungry, so we left the Garden and headed towards the second portion of our date. Instead of celebrating Valentine's Day with dinner out, we opted for lunch. Tony had made reservations at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, a restaurant that has a great reputation. After a yummy lunch of field greens salad and thick slices of meatloaf layered over smashed potatoes and sauteed spinach I would have to agree.

Five years ago today: Valentine's Day Trivia

Monday, February 13, 2023

A Thirty-Second Fix

Yesterday I was getting ready to go to work and slipped on a pair of black shoes. I've had the shoes for several years and never had any problems with them, but now I noticed they squeaked when I walked.

I didn't have time to do anything about the problem, so I spent the morning walking around with noisy shoes. 

When I got home the first thing I did was shake those shoes off into a corner by the closet. I told myself I wouldn't wear the pair again anytime soon. An hour later I had to leave again to meet a friend. I was running late, and the quickest thing to do was to put on those black shoes.

My friend and I had a nice long chat, and I returned home mentally refreshed. 

This time I swapped out my nice jeans for wear around the house jeans, took off my shoes, and put on a pair of slippers. I played with Jackson the Cat and we took a nap on the bed together. The nap was supposed to be short, but I overslept and had to scramble to get ready to leave for a Super Bowl party. For the third time in the day the problematic black shoes were the easiest option. I had a couple of spare minutes, so I Googled How to fix squeaking shoes.

On the first hit I learned that if the shoes had removable insoles (mine did) I could take them out, sprinkle baby powder on the shoe bed, and reinsert the insole. It worked! Five years ago: Fat Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Let’s Hear It For Pizza!

Hubby Tony and I usually go out to dinner on Saturday night so we don't have to cook, but this week other commitments will keep us from doing that. Tony threw out changing to Friday night, but when I found out that today is National Pizza Day our plans for an easy, non-cooking night were set.

Unfortunately, Tony's schedule didn't allow us to enjoy a leisurely meal out but we did the next best thing. At the grocery store we browsed through the selection of frozen pizzas from local companies and decided on a St. Louis style (with a thin, cracker-like crust made without yeast and topped with Provel cheese). I've had a lot of rich food lately so I advocated for the lighter Tomato Basil Garlic pie. While we were there we also grabbed a Caesar salad kit and some adult beverages.

Shortly before dinner time I preheated the oven and tossed the salad. When the oven was hot Tony quarterbacked the baking and serving of the pizza. St. Louis style pizza is traditionally cut into squares, but tonight he chose triangles.

We sat down, poured drinks, and started eating. When we were finished everything was gone. That meant that clean up was easy, too.

Five year ago: I Thought The Holidays Were Over

Monday, February 6, 2023

Shining Sun

The other day I was leaving to run some errands. When I opened the door I thought someone had stuck large Post-It notes on the wall. I looked closer, and realized that the bright squares were a series of sunshine patterns.

Moving towards the stairwell, I figured out that the vertical lines came from the balusters.

The sunlight was coming at just the perfect angle from the window on the landing between the garage and the first floor so it could travel up the stairwell and reflect onto the wall. If it was any other season the tree outside of the window would have blocked the light.

Five years ago: A Local Angle

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Wind Current Style

Since Hubby Tony and I joined the YMCA a couple of weeks ago I've been enjoyed their wide variety of group fitness classes. So far I've participated in Zumba, Step, and Yoga. Today was Cycling. 

It's been a long time since I worked out on an exercise bike with a group. At the gym before my previous one I used to take Spinning (the trademarked name for choreographed cycling classes) on a regular basis. When I moved from that gym to the one we just left there were no convenient Spin class times, and then the classes were moved to an upgraded membership level and it wasn't an option for me. At the Y all group classes are reserved on the app, and Cycling fills up quickly. When I opened up the app yesterday I was pleased to see availability this morning and jumped on the opportunity. 

With the reservation system there's no need to show up early to insure a space. Nevertheless, since every brand of exercise bike is a little different I gave myself extra time to make sure I was set up before the class started. That didn't matter since the instructor rolled in late, apologizing that she had been held up at a railroad crossing.

Inside the cycling room I picked a bike in the middle of the last row. It wasn't hard to adjust the seat  and handlebars and I was ready when the instructor cranked up the music. About a quarter of the way through the class the instructor walked around the room and turned on large oscillating fans. I happened to be right next to one. The breeze did a great job of keeping me cool, but every time it blew my way my hair went crazy. At the end of the class my style was quite interesting!

Five years ago today: Setup Snafu

Thursday, February 2, 2023

How Fast Is Enough?

I used to have a heavy foot on the gas pedal, but now I'm a 'recovering speeder' who tries to go the posted speed limit. My new habit comes in handy when I pass a hidden patrol car and I don't have to worry that I'm going to see flashing lights coming after me. However, the past few months it feels like traffic is going faster.

 The subdivision and non-highway streets I use on a regular basis have enough stop lights and signs that traffic usually flows at close to the posted rate. However, the interstate is different.

In the St. Louis metropolitan area the interstate speed limit is 60 miles per hour. To keep up with the flow of traffic it takes an additional five miles per hour (and on 8:00 on Sunday morning when I drive to the church to cook breakfast ten miles per hour is often more appropriate). Depending on how I'm feeling I either join in the speeding, or poke along in the far right lane and let all the other cars pass me.

As you move away from the city the speed limit rises to 65 mph, and maxes out at 70 mph. I'm not on these roads as much, but ironically, I don't see as much limit exceeding on these roads. Wonder why?

Five years ago: The Real To-Do List