Thursday, June 29, 2023

Thinking Outside The Box

When I lived in my previous house I kept my costume jewelry in the closet-a belt rack attached to one wall for my necklaces, and a large piece of burlap attached to another wall to hang the earrings on. But when Hubby Tony and I downsized to our condo there was no wall space available, and it took me a while to figure out a storage system.

The fancy jewelry organizers I saw online were more than I wanted to pay, so I continued my search. One day I was rooting around in the storage area, saw a tackle box, and a light bulb went off. I wondered if I could use that to hold my jewelry. It turned out that plastic fishing lure hook and tackle boxes were the perfect solution.

The boxes are perfect because:

  • They have a lid that latches securely.
  • The boxes are flat enough to stack two up in a dresser drawer.
  • The divers are adjustable. You can use none of them, some of them, or all of them. I now have four of the boxes...two for necklaces and two for earrings. The necklaces boxes only use the horizontal dividers, but the earring boxes also incorporate the vertical divers to separate the box into little compartments.
  • I have a lot of earrings, too many for each pair to have its own compartment. Even when I put a couple of pairs in each compartment, though, it's easy to pick out exactly what I'm looking for.
  • Best of all, the boxes were cheap at the sporting goods store. I got all four of them for less than the price of one fancy organizer

Five years ago today: Can This Really Be True?

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


From a friend.....

A couple were invited to a family masked fancy dress party. At the last minute the wife got a terrible headache and told her husband to go alone. He protested, but she said she was just going to take some aspirin and go to bed and there was no need for him to stay. So the husband got into his costume, and away he went.

After sleeping for an hour the wife felt better. As it was still early she decided to go to the party. Her husband didn't know what her costume was, so she thought it would be interesting to see what he was like when she wasn't with him.

At the party she soon spotted her husband in his costume. He was dancing with every woman he could, copping a feel here, and a little kiss there. His wife went up to him and starts being rather seductive herself. He leaves the women he's with to go off with her.

After a few more drinks, he whispers in her ear, and they end up going to a car and fooling around on the back seat. Just before the unmasking the wife slips away, goes home, and puts her costume away.

She is sitting up reading when her husband comes in, and she asks him what kind of time he had. 

He said "Oh, the same old thing. You know I never seem to have a good time without you". 

Rolling her eyes she asked, "Didn't you dance much?" 

He replied, "No not at all, in fact me and the guys just went in the spare room and played poker all evening".

The wife said sarcastically, "Oh well, you must have looked really silly playing poker all night in that costume!" 

"Well actually," replies her husband "I gave my costume to my dad, and apparently he had the time of his life!'

Five years ago: Feelin' Fancy

Sunday, June 25, 2023

International Character

Yesterday, part of my horoscope today said:

"Let someone draw you into another world"
So that's what I did.


This weekend Major League Baseball is playing a series in London. The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the teams (and the Chicago Cubs was the other).

I don't usually watch TV in the morning, but since London is six hours ahead of St Louis, at 11 am Hubby Tony turned the pregame show on. The game started at 12:10. After that it was just like a regular broadcast, so I half watched while doing other things, and completely walked away after the Cards were down by six runs. The final score was 9-1 in favor of the Cubs.


Later in the afternoon Tony and I went to church, then out to dinner. On Friday the newspaper's restaurant critic had highlighted the Chicken Schwarma at the Original Schwarma House. The restaurant is less than a mile from the church, but we had never been there before. Now we can say we have.

We ordered both a chicken schwarma and a veggie plate. Each entree came with a choice of a spread and salad. Because we shared everything half and half, I can say I tried chicken schwarma (roasted on a vertical spit and sliced like gyro meat), spicy rice, tabbouleh, mutabbal (eggplant, yogurt, tahini, and olive oil), yalanji (stuffed grape leaves), falafel, cucumber yogurt salad, and hummus. Not a bad dish in the bunch.


Our last international adventure was back at our church. It has an active Hispanic ministry, including a Brazilian community. That group was sponsoring a Festa Junina (June Fest, celebrating the nativity of St. John the Baptist) after their monthly Portuguese mass.

Earlier in the week the organizers realized they needed additional volunteers, and put out the word. The email we received said that everyone was welcome, and there was no need to speak Portuguese, so Tony and I decided it would be an interesting way to spend the evening.

We arrived a half hour before the Festa began, but I could tell some people had already been hard at work. There were food booths set up on both sides of the parish center, and another tent that had activities for children. The tables and stage were nicely decorated.

As soon the as mass was over crowds of people entered the room. I heard there was somewhere between 400 and 500 in attendance...from seniors all the way down to infants. A disc jockey played music from the stage, and later in the night a band started.

We were assigned to the popcorn booth. A member of the Brazilian community manned the machine. Tony bagged the popcorn. I sold the bags. I soon came up with a system of communicating with people who didn't speak English. Everything was sold through tickets, and there was a sheet on the table that showed the price value of each ticket. Popcorn cost one blue ticket. When someone came up to me I would smile, point to the blue ticket, and raise my index finger to signify one.

Over the course of the night I saw people carrying containers holding the Brazilian version of hot dogs, corn on the cob, tamales both sweet and savory,  churros, and lots of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I was able to sample some creamy hominy pudding, both with and without peanuts and salgadinha, a generic term for a savory doughnut-hole looking fried snack that tasted of corn. 

As volunteers, Tony and I got tickets that allowed us to purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks after our shift. However, when that time came I was still stuffed for dinner. I got some Brazilian peanut brittle to take home. Tony chose a piece of one of the bolos diversos (assorted homemade cakes).

Five years ago: Undesirable Expounding

Friday, June 23, 2023

Swift And Successful Slumber

Lately I've been having a lot of what I refer to as 'middle aged sleep', meaning I wake up multiple times during the night because my legs will start twitching, I need to go to the bathroom, or put covers on/take them off to regulate my temperature. Some times I can go right back to sleep. Other times it takes a while, which means I don't feel well rested when it's time to get up.

Lately I've been trying to incorporate the five-step “military method” for falling asleep in minutes. Although I don't always have success in meeting its 10-minute time frame, the steps have cut down on a lot of my tossing and turning.

  • The first step is to relax your face. I use a technique I learned in a meditation class to start at my forehead and work my way down, systematically releasing the tension from my eyes, cheeks, mouth, tongue, and jaw.
  • Next, relax your shoulders, chest, and arms...biceps, triceps, forearms, and hands. While doing this I breathe deeply and imagine sinking into the bed.
  • Continuing down your body, the third step is to concentrate on relaxing your stomach. It helps me to take deep yoga breaths.
  • The fourth step is relaxing your legs. I do them one at a time. For each, I start at my thigh and move down to my calf, ankle, and foot, concentrating on letting each part sink into the bed.
  • Last, you clear your mind. Some nights I visualize I'm in a peaceful forest. Other times I'm watching clouds in the sky. The article suggested that if your brain just won't stop to repeat the words "Don't think" for 10 seconds. Sometimes I do that, but other times I substitute a rote prayer or mantra.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

One Off, Which Is Too Bad

 On Sunday we put together a taco feast to celebrate Father's Day and Son Donald's birthday. The goal was to make enough food so everyone could also have leftovers on Monday, so when it was time to serve the island had a stack of soft tortillas, hamburger and chicken taco meat, a bowl of mixed  black and pinto beans, cheddar and queso fresco cheeses, homemade pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, cilantro, and roasted broccoli spears (nontraditional, but very tasty). Dessert was a blackberry crumble topped with whipped cream.

We ate until we had enough, then I divided the savory leftovers and sent half of them home with Donald. (He's not a big dessert guy.) Monday night Tony and I made plates from our portion and heated them up in the microwave. Again we ate until we were full, and then finished off the dessert. 

At the end of the meal there was still a smattering of food remaining-approximately a cup of mixed meats, the same amount of mixed cheeses, a splash of pico, and a large handful of cilantro.  

We took a break from Mexican food last night, but today when I got home from cooking staff lunch at the parish office I had to think about putting together a dinner for us. Somehow I came up with the idea to mix all the leftovers (plus a can of drained black beans) into cornbread batter and bake it for an entree. My favorite cornbread recipe is from the early 1980's version of Betty Crocker's Cookbook (New and Revised Edition).  Since I was only making four servings I halved the recipe. I mixed all the ingredients in, poured the batter into a loaf pan, and baked it until a skewer came out clean.

After it was cooled I cut the loaf into eight slices-four to use tonight and four for tomorrow. I chopped up the last of the lettuce and decided a tomato would be a good accompaniment. There wasn't any in the house, so Tony and I walked up to the grocery store. When we got home he made a simple tossed salad to accompany the corn bread. I spooned some salsa over my portion; Tony chose hot sauce for his.

Some of my cooking experiments are just edible, but this one was really good! It was like a meat loaf with a lot of filler, but in a good way. 

Unfortunately, if I wanted to make the dish again I might be able to come close but I won't be able to replicate the exact set of ingredients again. 

Five years ago today: Motor Driven Two-Wheeler

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Who Needs A Ruler!

My meal for the clergy at church this morning was a breakfast pizza with a whack-it-on-the-countertop tube of refrigerated pizza dough topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, and two types of cheese (pepperjack and cheddar). The recipe directions said to spread the dough out into a 15x10 inch baking pan, but the pans I could find were obviously too big or too small.

After pondering the situation for a couple of minutes, I decided to spread the dough out onto a round pizza pan. But there were several sizes of those in the cabinet, too. None of them had a measurement on the bottom. How could I figure out which one would work the best?  Fortunately, I had just read an article about using my body parts to measure things without a ruler.

Five Minute Crafts

The recommended rectangular pan had an area of 150 square inches. According to the article, the distance from my bent elbow to the tips of my fingers was approximately 18 inches. The first pan I tried came halfway up my hand and I guessed it was 14 inches in diameter, and so the radius (half of the diameter) would be 7 inches. I didn't have a pencil with me to do the figuring, so I used an internet calculator to find out the pizza pan area was 153.94 square inches, which was close enough to the target size for me.

It took a little work to maneuver the rectangular sheet of dough into the circular pan, but the resulting crust was just the right thickness.

Five years ago: Father's Day 2018

Friday, June 16, 2023

Back In The Biking Business

Yesterday I received a call from the repair shop telling me my bike was ready to be picked up. Today after my morning commitments Hubby Tony dropped me off at the store, and I rode home. 

At the front desk the associate found my repair ticket and handed it off to someone else to retrieve my bike from the storage area. He did the payment part. A couple of minutes later I saw my distinctive teal frame being wheeled though the showroom. Before he handed it over to me, the associate pointed out all the things they did. It turns out that the gentleman who converted my conventional bike to an electric one could have done a couple of things differently:

  • The rear bike rack (which is what the battery rests on) had some loose bolts. The movement of the rack is what led to the need for a new tire.
  • The chain that came with the conversion kit had been cut a little bit too short, which led to a crack in the chain hanger.
  • When the gentleman delivered the bike he told me I shouldn't move the gear from where he set it on the fifth position. I followed that advice. However, today I found out that wasn't the best advice. I should have been using the gears as well as the motor on inclines. Otherwise, the cassette (set of sprockets that the chain moves on) would fail and need to be replaced.
  • Related to the gear shifting issue, the too-short chain would not be able to handle first gear. The shop disabled that option for me.

In the end, I left with a bike with all the necessary new parts. The shop also tightened the bolts, oiled the chain, re-installed my battery, and even reset my water bottle holder to the correct angle. I was thrilled with the effort they went through. They did such a good job I might have to think about giving them my business...even though there are four other stores that are closer.

Five years ago: One Of The Mysteries Of The Universe....

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

A Recipe for Preserving Children

This takes me back to simpler days. I wonder how many kids get to experience things like this now?

4-6 children
3 dogs
Large grassy field
Pool of water or stream
Deep blue sky
Hot sun
Mix the children with the dogs. Add the next four ingredients. Pour out onto the field with the water. Cover all with blue skies and sunshine. Bake under the sun until the children are well browned and happily satisfied. Set them away in the bathtub to cool. 
Five years ago:  As Good As New

Monday, June 12, 2023

Not Exactly How The Plan Was Supposed To Go

Yesterday was Hubby Tony's birthday. The day was rainy, and not really conducive to being outside, so we celebrated by watching St. Louis City SC (our Major League Soccer team) on television, running some errands together, and going out to dinner.

I usually prepare dinner for the priests on Monday, but when it got cancelled this week Tony asked if we could take a belated bike ride for his birthday. 

Tony planned the route. We were going to go east through Webster Groves down to the River Des Peres Greenway and then circle back for lunch at a restaurant in Webster Groves. Most of the route was nice and flat, and I had the bike's motor to help me on the parts that weren't.

Public Domain Vectors
When we left the house it was actually cool enough that I threw on a windbreaker. Nothing like a normal mid-June day.

Tony and I passed through the Old Webster and Old Orchard shopping districts, then turned right and passed over the interstate. All of a sudden my bike felt sluggish and wouldn't steer correctly. I pulled onto the sidewalk, where I discovered my tire was flat. 

I weighed the options. I didn't have an extra tube or tools to fix the problem (and even if I did, my basic bike repair class had been so long ago I wasn't confident I could do it), so I started walking my bike back the way I came. 

I told Tony to ride on ahead, and we picked out a meeting place just past the overpass.. By the time I got there he had already figured out the closest bike shop and called them to see if they could help. They said they could, and the job would take five minutes.

All I had to do was get there. It was a little over a mile to the shop. Once again Tony was going to walk with me, but I told him he should ride. We agreed to meet at the shop in a half hour. It actually took me a little bit less than that. Along the way I shed my windbreaker and stuffed it in the string bag on my back

A  technician was waiting when I walked in the door of  the bike shop. He wheeled the bike to the repair area and hoisted it onto the rack. It took him a couple of seconds to discover that my tire had an issue too-probably related to the conversion of my standard bike to an electric one. I found out the additional work would make my wait time 30 minutes. He suggested I walk around and they would call when the bike was finished.

Tony and I decided to have an early lunch. My phone rang just as we were finishing up. I found out that when the technician disassembled the bike he found there was an additional part that needed to be replaced. This one had to be ordered. All of a sudden I didn't have a way to get home.

Tony said he would ride home, feed Jackson the cat, and come back for me in the car. I told him to call when he was leaving the condo. While I was waiting I browsed through some gift shops, but nothing struck my fancy. I decided I would I started walking towards home. Why not?

The temperature was 69 degrees, and there was plenty of shade on my route. When Tony called I had already walked several blocks west.  Ultimately I walked a little over a mile before I saw Tony's car coming towards me. I glad to see him! Although the shade was still lovely, the sun was directly overhead and getting  uncomfortable.

Five years ago: Escalier

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Kindness Beneficiary

I try to be a kind person, do the right thing, and pay it forward on a regular basis. Today I was on the receiving end. It felt good.

Hubby Tony and I were out for a walk. Along the way we popped into Walgreens for a couple of things. At the register Tony entered the phone number for the loyalty program. The bill came to $5.39. Just as Tony was preparing to tap his charge card, the cashier announced there was a $5 credit on the loyalty account.

She asked if Tony would like to use it. He said he would.

All of a sudden the bill was down to 39 cents, and the cashier said she would take care of it. There were several coins on top of the register. She reached down and took out two quarters. After the transaction was completed she returned the 11 cents change back to the pile.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Deals To Be Had

On the second Friday of the month Hubby Tony and a friend from church meet at the garage by the soccer field, where they pick up sandwiches and bags of fruit donated by parishioners and transport them to two organizations that feed the homeless. (Other groups of volunteers do the same thing each Friday of the month.)

This morning at breakfast Tony said his friend wouldn't be able to make it, so he would do the drop off himself. Every Friday morning I attend a meting of a fellowship, but a half hour later when I was brushing my teeth it occurred to me that if I changed my plans I could accompany him. Both our fruit and vegetable produce bins were almost empty, and one of the drop off locations was very close to Soulard Farmers Market.

Even though it's too early for fresh local produce, and most of the items would have come directly from Produce Row, it's still a fun experience. We could get what we needed, then walk around the historic neighborhood. The day was supposed to be lovely, with morning temperatures in the low 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the skies are hazy, the smoke from the Canadian fires is pretty much out of the area.

When I broached the subject to Tony he thought it was a good idea.

It was interesting to see all that went into the sandwich delivery project. When people volunteer to make sandwiches they use an entire loaf of bread, add whatever meats and/or cheeses they want, put each sandwich into a plastic bag, then put all the individual bags back into the bread bag and close it up with a twist tie. We put 15 bread bags worth of sandwiches, five bags of apples, and two bags of clementines into the trunk of Tony's car. A second program allows church members to freeze and donate individual servings of main dishes. Today there were six of those waiting to be taken.

At the first location we dropped off half of the sandwiches, half of the fruit, and the frozen items. The rest went to the second location. Each stop took about ten minutes, then we were free to do what we wanted. Saturdays at Soulard are extremely busy, and parking is an issue. Today Tony was able to find a non-metered spot just a block away. 

The market is shaped like the letter H, with a central enclosed building and four legs branching off of it. Today two of the legs were basically empty, and the others half full. Our plan was to look through the market to see what the vendors were selling and use the bathroom, walk through the neighborhood, then come back and buy. However, when I stopped to look at some cherries another shopper clued me in on a better place to get them, then pointed out some deals at her favorite booth. I went from admiring some broccoli to deciding to purchase it. When the shopper pointed out that the red onions and yellow peppers were a 'steal' that I should snap up I thought about it, then added those to my pile. Tony was nice enough to pay and carry the things back to the car.

From there we walked up and down the Soulard streets for a half hour, trying to stay on the shady sides. Back at the market we focused on fruit. At one stand we bought a bag of cherries and some peaches. At a second stand I picked out four clamshells of blackberries and a large Arkansas tomato, but the clerk convinced me that buying a case of 12 blackberries was a better deal.

On our way back to the car we stopped at a coffee shop. I grabbed a seat at a table outside and Tony went in to get coffee. While we waited for it to cool off we each polished off a clamshell of blackberries.

Our haul, less two missing clamshells. Time to process some food!
Five years ago today: Fresh Facing

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Be More Like Labs

Earlier today, Karen at Baking in a Tornado left a comment on my last post 

"Hmmm, a black, a brown, and a white chicken coexisting peacefully (OK, mostly peacefully), how we humans could learn a lesson from them . . ."

Reading her words, I immediately thought of the meme that occasionally makes the rounds. It shows a group of Labrador Retrievers (black, chocolate, white, and yellow) posing for the camera. The wording suggests the dogs can coexist and suggests that humans do the same thing.

That's an excellent idea.


Monday, June 5, 2023

Fine Feathered Friends

Last November I started my job cooking for a church. The weather had already turned chilly by then. I walked around the grounds a couple of times, but for the most part just hustled from the car into the building.

When spring came the pastor told me he was excited that the chickens were laying eggs again. The fact there were chickens was news to me, but I found out the coop was a feature of the school's outdoor classroom. Some time later I figured out where that coop was located. 

It was fascinating to watch the chickens and listen to their clucking and vocalizations. When I made cooking scraps I would Google to see if it was something 'the girls' could eat. Now, most shifts find me walking across the parking lot with a bowl of goodies for the chickens. I distribute the food and talk to them for a little bit before heading back.

I'm not sure, but I suspect they now know who I am. There are three chickens left from the original flock of six. Each is a different breed, but they seem to coexist nicely. Except for the time I brought some pork fat cut from the chops I was cooking. Then it was every hen for herself.

Enjoying some watermelon

Five years ago:Interesting New Dog Breeds

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Parking Lot Boogie

This morning I was driving to a volunteer event. Right before I got to the venue one of my favorite songs came on the radio:

I cranked the volume up. 

When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a friend, who stopped and waved to me. I rolled down the windows and turned up the music even louder. For the rest of the song we danced-me in the car and her outside. The song ended and things went back to normal.