Friday, September 29, 2023

Decluttering And Eradicating

When we moved into our condo a little over three and a half years ago I thought I had done a good job of getting rid of superfluous things. However, it turns out Hubby Tony and I haven't used many of the items we put into the basement storage unit. I try to get down there to declutter a couple of times a year.

Last night was one of those sessions. I started by tossing some cardboard boxes into the recycling bin and moved on. There were two plastic storage tubs on the shelves that were nearly empty. I had held onto them 'just in case', but it was time for them to go. I consolidated their contents into a third tub and stacked the now-empty ones outside the storage unit.

Seeing the empty spots on the shelves was a great motivator. I decided to tackle a large plastic tub on a bottom shelf that contained miscellaneous gardening supplies. When I picked up the tub and hoisted it onto the floor dozens of ants started cascading off of the shelf onto the floor. And when I looked at the shelf there were easily twice that many left!

I dropped the tub back onto the shelf like a hot potato and hustled upstairs to ponder my options. 

Tony was getting ready to leave for a meeting at church, and when I told him about the issue he asked what we could do. Years ago I used to sprinkle a combination of borax and flour around the outside perimeter of the house to keep ants from coming in, and responded that I thought it would be good to start with a natural remedy this time. Thee was an almost-empty box of borax in the laundry room, which I took downstairs and sprinkled on the floor and shelf. 

I didn't see Tony again until this morning, and asked him if he had looked in the storage room. He told me he had, and that the ants were still active. Shortly after that I left to go to a meeting and run some errands. When I checked my phone after the meeting there was a text from Tony telling me he had gone to the hardware store, bought ant spray, and used it liberally in the storage room. 

Tonight I went down to the unit to continue my interrupted decluttering. There were a few ants still moving around, so I think we'll be going back to the hardware store for some traps.

Five years ago today: Bountiful Biscuits

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Who Will Eat It?

Last week I was talking to the business manager at the church. As part of our conversation, I learned that the parishes around his farm in Calhoun County in Illinois vied for the bragging rights for the best turtle soup.

I said I had eaten a lot of food, but turtle soup was not one of them. Business Manager said he had a container in his freezer and asked if I wanted to serve it as part of a staff lunch. Maybe with sandwiches? I told him I would let him know. A couple of days later I found a nice eye of round roast in the discounted section of the grocery store. It would make great sandwiches, and just like that I had a meal planned.

On Monday I roasted the meat and put it in the refrigerator. Today I sliced it thin, poured the drippings on top, and reheated it. (In addition to the soup and sandwiches there was a green salad, chips, pickles, and cheesecake).

The frozen soup filled half of a round paper ice cream container. After it was heated, the tomato base was thick with small pieces of meat that looked like hamburger. I sampled the soup, and discovered the meat tasted like a cross between dark meat chicken and pork, with a little bit of gamy thrown in. The broth had an unidentifiable sweet spice flavor (allspice? cloves?).

Looks a little bit like chili, doesn't it?

 I put both small and large bowls on the serving line so people who wanted soup could take a little bit or more. There were seven people for lunch today. Several did not take soup. (One person said they had some before and did not like it. Two are not adventurous eaters.)  One person took a small bowlful, but did not eat it. The rest of us filled large bowls and chowed down. 

At the end of the meal there were several servings of soup left over, and I brought a little bit home for Hubby Tony. He liked it, too.

Five years ago today: One Thing Leads To Another....

Monday, September 25, 2023

Italian Oven Baked Turnover

Last week the Associate priest asked me if they could have calzone for dinner tonight. I've never made the dish before, but I knew enough about it to know that I could figure out the procedure and agreed. The finished meal was well-received,, and I also learned a lot along the way.

My original understanding was that a calzone was a folded in half pizza with the edges pinched together. However, the first thing I learned was that a calzone does not have any sauce inside. Instead, marinara is served on the side for dipping. The second thing I learned was that traditional calzones have to have ricotta cheese (along with mozzarella) as part of the filling. The third thing I learned that a calzone was a first cousin to a stromboli, a type of savory turnover that is rolled like a burrito and cut into spiral slices. A stromboli usually has sauce inside and only has mozzarella cheese.

Once I figured out what I was making I found a recipe and made a shopping list. On the way to the church today I stopped by the grocery store for ingredients. Because I was also doing some precooking for Wednesday's staff lunch I took the easy way out and bought a pizza crust from the dairy case. (That rectangular crust didn't easily lend itself to circular pieces so my calzones were square instead of moon shaped. Neither priest complained.)

I divided the large pizza dough rectangle into eight pieces, quartered pepperoni slices and microwaved them to get rid of some of the grease, and sauteed colored pepper strips. 

When it was assembly time I put a spoonful of ricotta on each rectangle, added pepperoni, peppers, and shredded mozzarella. Next I folded the dough over the ingredients, pressed the edges together, then went back over the edges again with a fork to crimp them well. Right before baking I cut a slit on the top of each calzone so the steam could release during baking. 

I put the tray of calzones in the oven and set the timer. Halfway through I looked in the oven and noticed the calzones puffing up nicely. A couple of them were rocking gently back and forth as the steam came out of the top vent. 

In addition to the calzone and marinara sauce, dinner included a salad with Imo's Pizza sweet Italian dressing. I made enough calzone for two meals, and I'm pretty sure they'll be gone by my next cooking shift on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

There Wasn't Much Autumn Today

The Autumnal Equinox happened in my area at 1:50 am this morning.  Now the days will get shorter, and the temperatures will drop, so it's time to enjoy the outside before the weather goes downhill. 

My first activity this morning was a cycling class at the gym. I came home and showered, then realized it wasn't exactly fall weather yet and a sleeveless tank top and shorts would be more comfortable than a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. Thank goodness I had procrastinated putting the summer clothes away.

Hubby Tony and I ate lunch on the deck. I noticed the huge maple tree outside the front door was already sporting a few colored leaves.

The small downtown area of our city was having an Autumn Outdoor Fest. Their advertising promised music, store sidewalk sales, and activities at the Farmer's Market. After lunch we fed Jackson the Cat and left.

Our first stop was at the bank just north of the downtown area, where I used the ATM. We browsed in the outdoor shop right next door, but when we came out we realized that because of construction the sidewalk going south was closed. We had to double back and walk around the block. There was a nice breeze blowing, but the sun was high in the sky. There were quite a few trees to provide shade, but by the time we made it around the block I was sweaty and wished I had done a better job of sunscreening my exposed skin. 

We walked down the east side of the downtown main street and stopped to listen to some music at a pocket park. Unfortunately, the singer's set was over five minutes after we arrived and the next one wasn't going to start for another 30 minutes, so we continued south to the Farmer's Market. There were some great-looking children's activities there, but we didn't have any children with us. I got myself a locally grown apple (which turned out to be excellent) and Tony picked out a huge plum (which he said was ripe and juicy). We sat in the shade and rested a few minutes, then crossed the road and walked north. I was disappointed in the number of stores that were participating in the sidewalk sale, but we popped into a couple to see what they had and take advantage of their air conditioning.

At this point Tony and I agreed it was too hot and we should just go home. Our last stop before heading back to the car was at a cafe to get coffee to go. I was tempted to order something fall-flavored, but decided to wait until it was actually appropriate to do so.

Five years ago today: No More Stains

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Gimme A Beet

One of the things on sale at the Asian market this week was beets (only 59¢ a pound)! I love beets, but Hubby Tony isn't as much of a fan, so I picked out one nice-looking large beet and added it to my bag.

As much as I enjoy fresh beets, I keep them as an occasional treat, mainly because they're a mess to process and cook. Red beet juice stains everything they come into contact with....countertops, cutting boards, and hands. Of course, since I don't cook them much I can never remember exactly how to do it. My BFF Google does, though. 

The first hit on my search for roasting beets was Cookie+Kate's Perfect Roasted Beets. I've never found a bad recipe on that website, and I figured this one was another keeper. Turns out I was right. 

The recipe only had three ingredients-beets, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. I left off the oil and dry roasted my beet. It still tasted good. Instead of the wedges that Kate suggested I did thick slices-mainly because it was easier and I didn't care about the end presentation.

I preheated the oven while I swashed and sliced the beet, then placed my slices on a Silpat silicone baking mat and took a scrubby to every surface the beet had touched. At the end of the cooking time the Silpat was covered in dark red juice spots (but they came off with a quick wash). I ate one of the smaller slices, then went back for a second one. I moved the rest of the pieces to a cooling rack, and then into a container for the refrigerator for munching on the next few days.

Five years ago: What Is Your Hourly Rate?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Chickens Eating Chicken

Last week my COVID symptoms kept me from doing my cooking shifts at the church. Today I put on my mask and showed up.

I decided to made an easy dinner of grocery store deli fried chicken, potato salad, and sliced tomato.  My shopping list also included milk and bread for the pastor and a package of bacon requested by the associate priest.

At the rectory I said hello to the parish office staff and headed back to the kitchen. After putting the perishables away and doing a few dishes left in the sink I put the bacon in the oven to bake. While it was cooking I took a good look in the refrigerator and realized that no one had eaten leftovers since I had last been there.

The remains from a chicken fajita lunch were now more than a week old. Time for them to go. I wondered if it would be strange to feed them to the chickens? They're omnivores, which means they eat just about anything, but it seemed weird. After thinking about it for a couple minutes, though, I decided to give it a try. 

I know from experience these chickens aren't fans of onions so I sent the vegetables down the garbage disposal, then rinsed the chicken to remove the taco seasoning and cut the strips into small pieces. When the bacon was done I grabbed the bowl of chicken and headed across the parking lot to the coop, where all three hens were out in the run. 

I opened the door and they scattered, but after I tossed the pieces of meat down and walked out they quickly returned. I've never seen them enjoy a snack as much as today's. They were actually squawking at each other as they competed over the morsels. It was so much fun to watch!

Five years ago: Go Away, Already!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Isolated No More!

Because I was with someone who tested positive for COVID on Monday, the next day I turned to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection for reliable advice. Their page What to Do if You Were Exposed to COVID-19 had a handy Isolation and Exposure calculator. I told the calculator I had been exposed to the virus, had not had a confirmed case of COVID within the past 90 days, and the date I was exposed. The calculator told me that I didn't need to stay home unless I developed symptoms.

On Wednesday, two days after exposure, I woke up with a scratchy throat, a headache, and a general 'off' feeling and changed my weekend plans. Over the course of that day my nose started running, I developed a cough, my body ached, and I couldn't stay awake for more than a couple of hours at a time.

But each day since then got a little better. Today was my fifth day of isolation, and according to the guidelines that meant it was testing day. I was completely symptom free, and it was satisfying to have the test come out negative, meaning I could be out in public places as long as I wear a mask indoors for another five days.

It felt strange, but good to be out. I went to a couple of grocery stores with Hubby Tony. Later in the afternoon we went to Mass, where we sat in the social distancing, masks required section. On the way home I popped into Costco, then drove across the street to a restaurant and got a gyro salad to go.

I suspect the time will go quickly and it won't be long until I'll be putting on a mask by choice instead of by obligation.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Fun Emoji Combinations

Do you know about Google Emoji Kitchen? It's a way to merge two emojis and then use them.

The process is easy. The first step is to go to and search for Emoji Kitchen. Next, click on the Get Cooking button.

From the list of available emojis, click on two. They will show up in the first boxes, and the merge will be in the box on the right. There's an option to share your creation via email or social media, or you can right click to copy or save the image.

Sometimes combining two similar emojis came up with different results. For example, joining the newspaper and bear together featured the animal above the fold on the front page. Newspaper and dog had the dog carrying the paper in its mouth.

Combining grinning face with open mouth showing upper teeth and pink hearts yielded hearts with open mouthed smiles. Swapping out the face for pumpkins gave pumpkins with hearts floating above them.

I had a great time wasting time experimenting with the site. If you decide to play with it what do you think?

Five years ago today: Wanted: Cookies

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

No Retreating For Me

Since June I've been one of 30 women planning a religious retreat at a local retreat center. The event starts on Thursday evening and ends on Sunday morning, but since I'm part of the organizing team my weekend actually starts with set up Thursday morning. It should. But it won't.

Monday morning Hubby Tony and I did money counting at the parish office. The counting is done in a room with a large conference table.Tony and I were at one end of the table and the other two people (another couple) sat at the other end.

Tuesday morning we received an email from one of the other counters saying they had just tested positive for Covid. The CDC guidelines say that anyone exposed should wear a mask, and then isolate if symptoms show up. I mulled over what that would mean for a weekend-long event. I would hate to be the one to pass on the virus to anyone, but I knew that at least one of the planning team members had respiratory issues and chances were good that other planning team members or retreatants would too. 

In the end my mulling was pointless; this morning I woke up with a scratchy throat, a headache, and a general 'off' feeling and it was obvious what I had to do.

I emailed the retreat leadership team and the organizers of the events I was working on to let them know, and made arrangements to drop off my supplies at another team member's house. When that was done I put away the personal items I had piled in the corner of the bedroom to take with me, and recycled the paperwork I no longer needed.

The event will go on without me, but it will be strange to have a quiet weekend instead of the jam-packed one I have been planning for. 

Five years ago today: The Middle Of The Month

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

A Day To Encourage Others

According to Wikipedia, September 12th is the National Day of Encouragement, a time to provide motivation and positive affirmations toward others.
Over the years I've found that it doesn't take much effort to build people up. Tonight I participated in a Zoom committee meeting and did my best to be an encourager. As we hashed through some questions one of the members was quiet, and even though I wasn't leading the meeting I went out of my way to ask her what she thought.

At the end of the meeting we had gotten a lot done, and right before I logged off I added a "great job" to everyone. 

Five years ago: Better Than An Exterminator

Sunday, September 10, 2023

See You Later, Alligator

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I attended a performance of the play "Million Dollar Quartet". The jukebox musical (where the songs are well-known popular tunes rather than original) dramatizes a recording session at the Sun Record recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee on December 4, 1956. The session included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis (who was a newcomer at the time). At the end of the show, after the bows, there was a 'encore' concert and each musician performed one complete song. Carl Perkins' was "See You Later Alligator". 

Listening to that made me think of a teacher from the preschool I used to work at who had a wide assortment of rhyming goodbyes. Every day was different, and it was often tied into something the class had talked about earlier. Some of the ones I remember: 

  • See you later, Alligator 
  • After a while, Crocodile 
  • Gotta go, Buffalo 
  • See you soon, Racoon (or sometimes Baboon) 
  • Gotta Bail, Whale 
  • Take care, Polar Bear 
  • Peace Out, Trout 
  • In a shake, Garter Snake 
  • Hit the road, Happy Toad 
  • Gotta scat, Cat 
  • Can't stay, Blue Jay 
  • Bye-bye, Butterfly 
  • Toodle-loo, Kangaroo 
  • Time to scoot, Little Newt 
  • Till then, Penguin 
  • Bye now, Brown Cow 
  • Adios, Hippos 
  • Hasta MaƱana, Iguana 
  • Out the door, Dinosaur 
  • To your house, Quiet Mouse 
  • Better skadoodle, Poodle 
  • Until then, Hen 
  • Adieu, Cockatoo 
  • Farewell, Gazelle 
  • Hit the Street, Parakeet
Five years ago: In Lieu Of

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Formal Preferred, Please

The daughter of a friend of Hubby Tony is getting married in October,. We've had the date on the calendar for months. When the invitation came several weeks ago I was surprised to read that the dress code was 'black tie preferred'. 

Tony and I aren't particularly black tie people. He can get away with wearing a dark suit, but I didn't have anything appropriate to wear hanging in my closet and would have to buy a dress. 

A couple of days after Tony RSVPd we went to the mall to walk. There's a store that always displays fancy formals in the window. I enjoy seeing them, but before that day there was never a reason to go in. I figured all of their merchandise would be too fancy for what I was looking for, but they had a nice selection of dresses that would work for me. That day was a sweltering one, and I was too sweaty to think about trying anything on, but the helpful associate encouraged me to come back later. 

I did browse the formal wear departments of the anchor stores while I was there, and found out their prices were higher. For a couple of weeks I popped into the thrift stores by my house on a regular basis. I didn't have any luck. 

Earlier this week I made a solo trip to the formal shop, tried on some dresses, and settled on my two favorites. The next day Tony went with me and we decided on sequined sheath dress with a lace jacket.

As she rang up the sale I asked the associate about accessories. She gave me suggestions for shoes (black, red, nude, or silver) and purses (which can either match the dress or the shoes). She also told me that in her opinion I did not need any jewelry other than earrings (and I have some fake diamond dangles that I can polish up and use).  

Now I just have to start looking for the other pieces. I'm not a dress shoe type of person either. Wish me luck.

Five years ago: A Wow! Day

Monday, September 4, 2023

Naming Of The Driving Paths

I had a hankering for a good hot dog today, so Hubby Tony and I ended up at Steve's Hot Dogs in the South Grand neighborhood. Ironically, I ended up ordering a Al Hrabratsky bratwurst, a play on the name of Al Hrabosky who is a former Cardinal baseball player and now color commentator for the team. His playing days nickname was the Mad Hungarian, and the sausage was topped with brown mustard, sauerkraut, celery salt and Hungarian paprika. Hubby Tony ordered a St. Louis Dog and we split both, along with a basket of fries.

Coming home on the highway we got in a discussion about the naming conventions for roads.  Tony thought that it made a difference if the road ran east/west or north/south, and that things changed when a road passed through the border from St. Louis City to St. Louis County, but the highway exits we passed didn't prove his points. When we got home we I did some research and found out (thanks to Vox) the differences between streets, boulevards, avenues, and many other types of roads.

The major ones: 

  • Roads are the most general category, and a way to connect two points. 
  • Streets are public roads with buildings on both sides. They often run perpendicular to avenues. 
  • Avenues are public roads, often in a city, usually with trees or buildings on the side. They frequently run perpendicular to a street. 
  • Boulevards are wide streets with trees on both sides. They often have a median.

The article goes on to list many other types of roads. Many of them are represented in my area, although when you get out into the suburbs it seems like developers are less inclined to follow the conventions:

  • Lanes are narrow roads, often in a rural area. 
  • Drives often take their contours from the natural environment like a mountain or lake.
  • Ways are small streets off of a road. 
  • Courts are roads that end in a circle or loop.
  • Terraces usually describe streets following the tops of slopes. 
  • Places are roads or streets that usually have no throughway. 
  • Alleys are small pathways between buildings. They may or may not be wide enough to drive on.

The next category of roads wasn't part of our driving home discussion, but I found the definitions helpful:

  • Frontage Roads are also known as access or service roads. They run parallel to larger roads and provide local access. 
  • Highways are major public roads that usually connects multiple cities. 
  • Interstates are large, typically federally funded networks of roads that are part of a highway system. They may go between states, but don't have to. 
  • Turnpikes are part of a highway, but are usually a toll road. 
  • Freeways are part of a highway system. They are large roads with two or more lanes on each side. 
  • Parkways are large, decorated public roads. They are named for the parkland that often appears on the side of the road. 
  • Causeways are raised roads that pass across low or swampy ground or water. 
  • Beltways are highways surrounding a city. 
  • Crescents are winding roads that resemble a crescent. They may attach to a road at both ends.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Finding The Right Job

In the United States, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. The U.S Department of Labor says that Labor Day is "An annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers".  Most people include the day as part of a three-day weekend.

In honor of the holiday, here's a lengthy resume of someone who quite unsuccessful in the job market:

As a young man:

  • My first job was in an orange juice factory, but I couldn't concentrate on the same old boring rind, and I got canned.
  • I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn't hack it, so they gave me the axe.
  • I tried working in a doughnut shop, but I soon got tired of the hole business.
  • I manufactured calendars, but my days were numbered.
  • I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn't suited for it. Mainly because it was a sew-sew job, de-pleating and de-pressing.
  • I took a job as an upholsterer, but I never recovered.

In my prime:

  • I tried working in a car muffler factory, but that was exhausting.
  • I wanted to be a barber, but I just couldn't cut it.
  • I was a pilot, but tended to wing it, and I didn't have the right altitude.
  • I studied to become a doctor, but I didn't have enough patients for the job.
  • I became a Velcro salesman, but I couldn't stick with it.
  • I tried my hand at a professional career in tennis, but it wasn't my racket. I was too high strung.
  • I became a baker, but it wasn't a cakewalk, and I couldn't make enough dough. They fired me after I left a cake out in the rain.
  • I was a masseuse for a while, but I rubbed people the wrong way.
  • I managed to get a good job working for a pool maintenance company, but the work was just too draining.
Later in life:
  • I became a personal trainer in a gym, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.
  • I thought about being a historian, but I couldn't see a future in it.
  • I was an electrician, but I found the work shocking and revolting, so they discharged me.
  • I tried being a teacher, but I soon lost my principal, my faculties, and my class.
  • I turned to farming, but I wasn't outstanding in my field.
  • I took a job as an elevator operator. The job had its ups and downs, and I got the shaft.
  • I sold origami, but the business folded.
  • I took a job at UPS, but I couldn't express myself.
  • I tried being a fireman, but I suffered burnout.
  • I became a banker, but I lacked interest and maturity, and finally withdrew from the job.
  • I was a professional fisherman, but I couldn't live on my net income.
  • I worked in a shoe factory, but I just didn't fit in. They thought I was a loafer, and I got the boot.
  • I worked at Starbucks, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind.
  • So, I've retired, and I find I'm a perfect fit for this job!
Five years ago today: Emoji Fun

Friday, September 1, 2023

Back Up And Running

Free SVG
You may remember that on Monday our internet went down, and the earliest technician appointment was last night.

The appointment arrival window was from 5-6 pm. I had a meeting to attend, and when I left the house Hubby Tony had received notification that the technician was on their way. I wished him luck on my way out. 

My meeting ended at 9:00, and I hadn't gotten any updates from Tony. I texted him asking about the project status. Seconds later I learned that we were back online. (Alleluia!) The whole appointment had gone so smoothly he'd even had time to do some grocery shopping and reconnect our TV to the network.

When I got home Tony shared the details of the appointment. I learned that our eight-unit condo building has a master box in the basement. It had so many splitters coming off the main wiring that it was hard for the technician to figure out which one was ours. However, he eventually found the correct set, then realized that our wires were corroded. He put in new ones, which fixed the problem.

 Tony and I will be headed to the store today to buy a nice gift certificate for the neighbor who let us use her signal.

Five years ago today: Downtown Fun