Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 5 Stitching

Ah back in the groove of another project. I come home, do some chores and pick up my cross-stitch for at least an hour. It's a good ritual to have.

This has a new, for me, skill. The lighter green is made up of two different colors. There's a lot of it so it will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Beverage:  Seltzer Water


A Celebratory Lunch

I found out that Dillon got an "A" on his Flat Stanley project. We had a bit of a panic because the envelope containing Stanley, his diary of his travels and the CD, got buried in an avalanche of papers on the teacher's desk. She thought Stanley hadn't arrived. I had the proof I mailed it and it was posted here, April 1st, on the blog. Stanley surfaced and Dillon got to present the photos over 2 days because I had taken so many.

I think this calls for a celebratory lunch. Stanley went out to eat with me on two occasions. For the first time, I had to attend the board meeting of the Great Lakes Society of Explosives Engineers. First, he checked out the menu.

We decided to split a bacon cheeseburger.

And a Dr Pepper, of course.

Afterwards, we had dessert. I ordered a slice of chocolate cream pie, but one of the other guys at the meeting ordered cherry pie and the waitress forgot about my chocolate cream and brought me a slice of cherry. It was still good.

I should have had her warm it and top it with ice cream.

When Stanley went to the office with me, we got up kind of late so we swung by Dunkin' Donuts and got breakfast.

I think Meredith said Dillon liked this photo the best.

There's always Subway. Stanley and I went to Subway, when he was here. I had to take him since I eat there about 3 times a month.

They made my favorite, turkey and cheese with lettuce, green peppers, spinach and mustard.

It was a foot-long so there was more than enough to share.

On the other hand, we could just go to the grocery store and get a few things.

I was out of cat food.

I think Stanley liked riding in the cart, especially when we went by the Easter candy display.

Finally, Stanley got to help check out and was checked out himself.

I think he costs a million, billion dollars.

I'm so glad Dillon got an "A" on the project. It was so worth dragging a large paper doll around with me.

Beverage:  Water


Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Stitching

A bit more progress made on the stitching project.

I'm still not real sold on the stiffness of this fabric. There was the thought that perhaps they designed this kit to be constructed by people who don't have hoops, who bought it and thought they would start crafting right out of the package. That would explain the stiffener in the fabric.

The BBC seems to prefer I crochet scarves. That could be a product of the fact it was colder when I was working on those than it is now that I'm back to cross-stitch.

Beverage:  Root Beer


What A Difference A Day Makes

What a diff'rence a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain. 

This was my side yard last Thursday morning when I went to work.

The water was gone when I got home. I didn't realize it until yesterday, when I went into the basement to do laundry and to check on the drying out process, but a lot of that water had squirted under the window that's in that corner of the basement. It's not much of an issue as the storm drain is there, but I did find standing water on the top of plastic bins.

The next day, the temperature tanked and, by Friday night, we were experiencing snow.

It was more like pellets rather than snowflakes. Still, it was cold enough overnight that on Saturday, where the sun hadn't reached, there was still residue.

But the weekend was sunny, if cold and today is brilliant sun and warm temperatures. The daffodils are blooming in the yard and I smile when I see them.

Today is Earth Day. It seems fitting that it should be sunny and warm. But we'll be in another trough of chilly and damp weather tomorrow and again on Thursday, bracketed by sunshine and warmth. I know this is somewhat typical of spring, highs and lows, but the extremes of 7 inches of rain and then snow have me wondering how the summer will fare. For me, there is no doubt in my mind that climate change is real. I remember the first Earth Days and how recycling was something poor families did because they couldn't afford new. We were conditioned, as a society, to accept that boxes went to the dump and disappeared. Now, we see how recycling conserves and how boxes, sent to a landfill don't disappear. I'm not sure what it will take for people who don't believe in climate change to see that we have, through our actions, affected this world in ways that are not positive.

So, I'm going to spend a few minutes out on my deck this afternoon, basking in the warmth and the promise of a spring on the way. Perhaps my footprint isn't as small as I'd like but I do what I can.

Happy Earth Day.

Beverage:  Root Beer


Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Trip Around Wheaton

One of the last things I did with Flat Stanley was take him around Wheaton, where I've lived for over 30 years.

We started at Adams Park. It's a large park just to the north of downtown. It used to be framed by streets but several years ago, the library got the eastern street vacated and they expanded, building an entrance accessible from the park.

I haven't been in the new addition since it opened. I used to use the library all the time. I knew several of the librarians, but I've found that my need for what they offer is, currently, non existant. That might be a reflection on society in general as people can find things they used to go to the library for, online. Libraries should never go away and I'll generally always vote for a library referendum, unlike some other tax increases. If you're interested, go here and watch the video about the Troy, Michigan library's funding campaign. Inspired.

After we went to the library building, we went into Adams Park, itself. The park is built on the site of the home of one of Chicago's prominent merchants, John Quincy Adams, a 4th cousin of the 6th president. In the center of the park is a fountain. It was covered for the winter.

Turning to our right, we can see the DuPage Historical Museum.

This limestone structure was, originally, the Wheaton Memorial Library, and was built in honor of Adams' wife. Wheaton and Downer's Grove were the only DuPage towns to have a public library at the end of the 19th century. In 1967, the current library was built and the historical society moved in.

From there, we went to other important places in Wheaton. We stopped by the post office.

This building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was build in 1933, during the Great Depression and is classified as a Works Progress building. The interior has changed quite a bit since I moved here but the exterior has been lovingly preserved.

Across the street from the post office is city hall.

One of Chicago's claims to fame was being the railroad hub of the US. If you wanted to get freight from the west to the east or the east to the west with any speed, you had to route it through Chicago. Part of that legacy goes through Wheaton. It started with the Galena and Western in the post Civil War years and continues with the Union Pacific today.

The other facet of railroad life is the need to move people. In the late 19th Century, this concept was seen with some now suburban towns being viewed as vacation destinations. Glen Ellyn, the town immediately to my east, has a lake just off their downtown. Chicagoans would take the train to Glen Ellyn to spend vacations at the large hotels that sprang up around Lake Ellyn. An electrified railroad, the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin, ran from Franklin Park to the western cities of Aurora and Elgin. This was an early commuter railroad. When it folded, the right of way from Melrose Park to Aurora and Elgin was given to a non-profit and turned into the Illinois Prairie Path.

As Chicago grew, the need to get people from the growing suburban community to their jobs in the city caused the railroads to add commuter service. Each railroad had its own service, but by the 1970's, they all wanted to abandon passenger service. It just wasn't making any money. The Illinois legislature created the Regional Transportation Authority, which became the Commuter Rail Service Board which became Metropolitan Rail or Metra, in 1987. It is said the city of Chicago's population triples during the work week as dozens of commuter trains bring people into the city for their jobs.

Wheaton has two stations. This is the main station, located to the west of the downtown.

The railroad really cuts the city in half. It's located right in the downtown area and 5 blocks from my house. This is not the original station that was here when I moved here. That station was twice this size but had been renovated to the end of its useful life. It was completely torn down and this station built on the same site. I live by the College Avenue Station. That place started as little more than a brick bus-type shelter but was rebuilt to a station the same size as the downtown station to reflect the quantity of people who use it.

From here, we went to downtown Wheaton. The big attraction in downtown Wheaton is Martin Plaza.

Robert Martin was a well-liked mayor of Wheaton who passed away while in office. He spear-headed the drive to redo the front streets of downtown to make them more interesting and inviting to residents. When Front Street, as it's called, was redone from Hale to Main (the street immediately east of this plaza), fountains were added and this public area designed to give people a place to congregate.

In the distance, the spired building is the former DuPage County Courthouse. This building was built in the late 19th century and served as the government center of DuPage County until a new county complex was opened on the west side of Wheaton, out by the fairgrounds. It's on the National Register of Historic Places, too. It was turned into condominiums. I think that would be cool, to live in the former courthouse building. To the left, in the photo is the eastern end of downtown.

This is looking west into the heart of downtown Wheaton.

The building coming out of Stanley's head is the original Wheaton train station. As the town grew, so did the need for a bigger building. The Chicago and North Western who had absorbed the Galena and Western, built the commuter station to the west and used this building for small freight deliveries and storage. Eventually, they abandoned the building. It was purchased and restored and is in use for a hair salon and a yogurt shop.

The circular turreted building in the distance marks the intersection with Hale Street. Front Street is one-way heading towards us and Hale is one-way going right, north. Hale is the heart of downtown. When I moved here, everything I could want was in downtown, from clothing to groceries to crafts to bookstores.

Economic downturns haven't been very kind to original downtowns. Clothing stores have closed. The grocery store closed but it will be replaced by a new one a half-mile south of this area, along one of the major east west roads from Chicago. There are small businesses with niche interests and a lot of restaurants. We have a theatre company using a former bank building. We also have the Wheaton Grand Theatre, a 1920's theater that's been the subject of much discussion and debate. I remember seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark and Tron at the Wheaton Grand, when it was a movie theatre.  At the time, there were many things drawing families into downtown. Today, not so much. Yes, we have a Starbucks.

So these are the places Stanley went on our quick tour of Wheaton. It was quite a cold morning and I didn't want him to catch cold so we went home.

Beverage:  Root Beer


Next Scents

Now that all the little vials are gone, it was time to decide what the next batch of scents would be that will be used up. I started rooting around in this container where I have bottles of cologne and found these.

These are body lotion samples, accumulated over many years. I'd forgotten about them. I do like scented body lotions mainly on elbows and knees and hips. It adds just enough fragrance and softens areas that can be overly dry. These would be good to use up and a somewhat liberal application of lotion will consume them fairly quickly.

I decided to use the pink one, Beautiful by Estee Lauder, first. My mother will wear this scent on occasion. I unscrewed the cap and the stuff inside streamed out all over my hands. It had liquified between the time I got it and when I opened it. There was nothing lotiony about it. The scent was very faint, too. So, I squirted out the remnants and tossed the tube in the recycling. I honestly don't know if the plastic contained in the tube is of the recyclable kind but I tend to err on the side of "They take pretty much everything", and assume it is.

That's one way to use one up. What to wear next? I've opted to go with the one on the far left. It's called "Beyond Paradise". I noticed that, except for the large tube from Clinique, the others are all Estee Lauder products. Not sure why I have them other than they might have been handing them out as samples back when I frequented the cologne or make up sections of department stores. It smells okay. The stated goal is to use these up, not find something I can't live without.

I'm thinking, by July, I'll be looking for another set to use up. I just have to be wary of wearing overly floral scents outside. I'm not interested in being pollinated.

Beverage:  Root Beer


A Watched Seed Doesn't Sprout

This is the third week since the seeds were planted. The first week, I checked on them every day, adding tepid water sparingly to the fake terrarium, just enough that the sun's heat would create a nice greenhouse effect. I tapped down the water I found condensed on the top, trying to keep this little ecosystem going. I want peppers on the deck this year, please. After 10 days of daily checking and no sign of anything remotely green, I gave up. I didn't even look at it when I came in to change kitty litter.

This morning I checked and saw this.

Holy sprouts, Batman! Not only did they sprout but they are pushing the top of the container. I tapped off the water, took off the tape holding the two pieces together and opened it up.

Well, not too bad on peppers. Left to right: chocolate has one sprout with leaves. It's also got a stalk but I will be surprised if that one makes it. It's been my experience that chocolate peppers are hard to sprout. I'll be happy with one. Lilac peppers have three good ones and one spindly one. Orange has two decent sprouts. I have 5 sunflowers spread over two pots. This is okay. I'm happy with these. Now to get them stronger and sturdier to put out, I hope, around Memorial Day. 

Those flower seeds I tried didn't do very well. I guess they are beyond the point of viability. So, next year, I should look for flower seeds. I have the seeds Patt sent me last year. They are direct seeded into pots so I'm hoping the weather will be warm enough in a month to do just that. 

With 6 and maybe 8 pepper plants for the deck I need to start looking at what I will put them in. Last week, I noticed the pot by the deck steps was sprouting greenery. 

Originally, I was going to use this one for peppers. They get a lot of sun since this is the southwest corner of the deck. But, with the dianthus self-seeding, I'm going to have to consider something else. I don't remember, right now, if I have a large pot in the shed. I want to give the peppers room to spread out roots. I guess, if I have to get a large pot for them, that's what I have to do. Fresh picked peppers off the deck beginning in August is worth a $25 pot. 

Beverage:  Root Beer


Friday, April 19, 2013

So You Don't Have To.

It's time once again for me to eat something new and give you my review on whether you should rush out an buy this. Our palate was the recipient of these new brand of Pop-Tarts, Oatmeal Delights. Maybe they have been around for awhile, but this is the first time I've noticed them.

First of all, no, I really shouldn't even think of buying something like this. When the ingredient list is as long as "David Copperfield", it's really not something I should even contemplate. But, there are times when I'm late for work and having something I can eat at my desk in the morning, something that will go decently with the morning's tea is of value. I won't buy instant oatmeal. If I want oatmeal, I'll make it the long way, not adding hot water to pounded oats with fake flavorings.

So, why did I pick something that is really not that good for me? It was convenience factor. After eating the initial two, I took this to work for those mornings when, as I said, getting up was really hard and I'd be late if I had my cereal. Plus, I feel a sense of duty here. Look at the things they advertise; 8 vitamins and minerals, fiber, no high fructose corn syrup, calcium and no trans fats. Ah, Kelloggs is trying to reinvent their product to remove things we have found objectionable. Does it work?

Scanning the ingredient list, the bottom left panel, the one that's as long as "David Copperfield", there aren't any signs of high fructose corn syrup or the stuff I would immediately associate with trans fats. But, oh look, corn syrup, fructose and palm oil. The strawberry part of this is almost 2/3rds of the way down the ingredient list and they are combined with pears and apples which, if you do some sleuthing, are nearly every manufacturers method of stretching the flavor in things like berries because the product would be too expensive to make from 100% strawberries. The vitamins? They are last on the list. If I was a betting person, I'd bet that one capsule of a vitamin gets added to a batch. Well, it's in there. These are NOT a "good source" of vitamins and minerals if those are last on the ingredient list. Go eat the actual food product associated with the vitamin instead. Folic acid is last on the list. I have to take that for my RA. I get a month's supply for $3.00. Of course, that's a doctor's prescription, but my point is, there are far, far better ways of getting these vitamins and minerals than eating a box of Pop-Tarts because of that claim.

But, in the end, it comes down to taste.

Kinda blah looking right? "Try them toasted!" the box reads. So I toasted one and ate the other untoasted. My toaster was set too high so I wound up charring the edges. Not a pretty photo.

What was good? The kitchen smelled nice. Have you ever had to toast oatmeal before adding it to a dish? It's a wonderful aroma. That's what toasting one of these gave off. They really don't have much of a smell straight from the package.

What wasn't so good? They stuck together making the pink icing come off when you pried them apart. That icing is, essentially, worthless, too. It doesn't add a single thing to the tart. I don't even think it adds to the overall look of it.

The oatmeal topping fell off. It was messy. It burned in the toaster and fell into my lap.

And that's the poorest excuse for calling something "strawberry flavored" I think I have ever tasted. The dough completely overwhelmed any flavoring. It was also somewhat mealy and dry, worse when toasted.

So, the bottom line is, if you are looking for an inexpensive toaster-style pastry, say you're going on a car trip and want a snack, Trader Joes and Whole Foods makes much, much, much better items. Heck, stop at a Dunkin'. Resign yourself to the fat and calories in a donut. Don't buy these. If you want Pop-Tarts, just buy the regular ones. There is nothing feel good about these.

Beverage:  Water


A New Project

All the yarn has been turned into scarves. I am lost without a crafting project. I thought I'd sit and read and I have, going through 4 magazines in the pile. But I still felt that there needs to be a craft project on the ottoman next to me. Funny how that kind of feels like a part of your life.

So, I looked through the paperclipped ideas in the craft magazines and while I thought they were good ideas for great friends, nothing jumped out at me as being something I wanted to make. Looking at the box of magazines without paperclipped pages wasn't what I wanted to do either so I started pulling out the packaged kits I've collected over the years. It took some rooting through the stash. Do I really have that many kits? Apparently, so. I found something to work on. I'm still going back to crocheting scarves, but I need to free up some cash to do that.

This is an interesting kit. First of all, they make a big deal out of telling you the thread is custom dyed specifically for them.

Now, I understand intellectual property rights. I see it all the time in the crafty blogs I read. "This project is intended for your use only. You may make items to sell for charity but do not make them to sell commercially." People work hard on their designs and it hurts them to see things sold for profit when they get nothing from it. I've just never encountered a kit this inexpensively priced that had custom dyed thread. I can probably match from my stash if I ever want to stitch this again. We'll see how it turns out.

This is day 1 stitching.

And here is what I did yesterday. I'm not liking the cross-stitch fabric they use. It's quite stiff. Even rinsed out to remove some of the sizing, I had a hard time getting the hoop to hold the fabric at correct tension.

This will probably go fairly quickly. There are no partial stitches, only full stitches. Once the blocks of color are done, you come back with black and outline things.

This is not very big, 6 by 10 inches. I'm going to have some time next week to just sit so there will be a lot accomplished. I don't have a recipient in mind for this piece, either. I decided, when I looked at the project, that just finishing it was important. Giving it away is icing on the cake.

Beverage:  Water


A Merry Box of Stickers and Stuffs

The start of our abnormal rainfall on Wednesday was also the date I received a box from Meredith. These are always boxes of fun, as I'm starting to call them. I sort of know what's inside but am not completely sure. There are always surprises. This was no different. Meredith is psychic because the box was not very big so it fit perfectly between the front door and the storm door. This is a good thing. I think, had the postman wrapped it in plastic it would have been washed off the front steps. It was a hair too big to fit in the mail box, even the big farm box that I have.

Inside were wonderful things. It's mainly stickers, which she got at Hobby Lobby. They have a huge sticker department and when those are on sale, if you use stickers in any capacity, they are a good deal.

See the "boss" stickers at the lower left. I laughed so hard. Guild members have, thanks to Daniel, started calling me "boss". I don't feel like a boss, more like a guide, but it always gives me a chortle when someone types, "Hiya boss" when I log into the game.

And Meredith has been taking some classes in, I think, Medical Records Administration. She'll talk to me about her homework. "I'm really tired. I'll finish this in the morning," she'll say. The next day, I'll find out she went shopping. "Wait. Is your homework done?" "Um...no, but there was this sale..." "No dessert until you finish your homework." "Um...yes boss." Or I find out she gave some of her supper to Scooter, her black pit bull. "No dessert tonight. You gave your supper to the dog. It's not good for him to have people food." "Um...yes boss." I'm so effective that I can discipline her in San Antonio while I'm in Wheaton. It makes for some really funny conversations.

I'll come back to the above photo. Here's a second layer of stickers.

The dinosaur ones had me laughing. In the world that Blizzard has created in their game, they have added an island populated by dinosaurs. Because the game is what I do in the evenings after I've done my chores, Flat Stanley had to watch me play. Kids love dinosaurs too so what could be better than a photo of Stanley with the dinosaurs.

Yes, dinosaur stickers are most appropriate.

Here's the last layer.

That's 22 packages of stickers, all with multiple pages. I'm thinking I now have enough to cover anything I send between now and at least Labor Day, possibly beyond. Memo to self: when Meredith asks how your sticker stash is doing, define "getting low". On the other hand, I know she stood there and said, "One of these and one of these and OH! I HAVE to get her one of these and look! Those are awesome!" I just hope her squeals of delight in the sticker aisle didn't attract too much attention.

Now, go back to the top photo and look at the upper left. There is a tube of chocolate fish from her trip to Nantucket back in mid-March. Milk chocolate in fish shapes. Oh...my. They are gone. I ate the whole tube over the course of a couple evenings................................or maybe it was one evening. They were so good and such a mood elevator when all I could hear on Wednesday was the sound of heavy, heavy rain and trying to calm a frightened cat when the thunder shook the house.

The other item is, to use a 1960's term, way cool. It's a tote bag that is contained in a small zippered pouch. I've never seen something like this before. You unzip all the way around the pouch and the bag is folded inside.

You pull the bag out and it sits on what was the outside, if that makes sense.

I should have put something next to it for you to get a relative size, but this will hold two 2 liters of soda to give you an idea of how big it is. It's a nylon composite fabric that will pop into the washing machine with ease and is somewhat water resistant on the outside. When I'm done using it, it folds just like a road map meaning, I wound up making up how to fold it and then stuffing it back inside the pouch.

I am thrilled with this. The tag said it was $3.99 but I'm not sure where she got it or if that's what she paid for it. She might have found it on sale, knowing her ability to sniff out sales. I tossed this in the center well of the Jeep. I can't tell you how many times I'm at the office and I think, "I need x. I'll just run over to Dominicks after work and get it" and then ruing that I don't have one of my reusable bags with me. This is nice and small and will be perfect for those impromptu grocery runs. The hard part is going to be remembering to stick it back in the car when I've used it.

So, Wednesday went from cold and wet and windy to warm and funny. I guess I'd better get busy writing letters, hadn't I? I have stickers to use up.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just Some Moisture

With some kinds of weather, it can be interesting to note that 75% of the US doesn't know what's happening, even if it's looming large in your life. Take last night into this morning.

We got some rain in the Chicagoland area. It's part of a sweeping system that, if you looked at weather maps at 10 p.m. last night, stretched from Louisiana up to Minneapolis and north into Canada. The leading edge was rain, lots and lots of rain. There was localized flooding in Iowa and then, as it plowed its way east through Illinois, it seemed to pick up steam. When I went to bed, the weather map from Chicago to the Mississippi River was yellow with sections of orange and small pockets of red embedded. As the light stuff is blue and the heavy stuff is purple, yellow is a lot of rain.

It was heavy when I got home Wednesday night. This was the birdbath on the deck at 4:15 p.m.

I don't have to consider filling it for several days now. The rain wasn't that cold, surprisingly, and, if there had not been a wind with this, I might have stopped to consider that the walk from the car to the house was an exercise in puddle stomping as the back yard by the house was one big puddle.

When I prepared my bowl of cereal for breakfast this morning, the skies opened yet again and the curtain of rain was so hard, the view across the street was like looking through plastic. Yes, there's water in the basement, but that's kind of to be expected. Water has to go somewhere and this much water is going to send it places it doesn't usually go. I took a shower and got dressed and then became aware of yelling and banging outside. This was the view south from my front steps.

That's a lot of water. The two neighbors whose drives were under water were moving their garbage cans to other driveways. I watched as people came barreling down the street only to slam on their brakes at the sight. In chatting with my neighbors, the people across the street had 3 inches of water in their basement. My immediate neighbor to the south had an inch of water. The two neighbors whose drives were under water had sewage. I'm grateful for seepage, at this point.

I have to head to the office. I've really no reason to call off. I can't stop the seepage until it stops raining and, well, that wasn't supposed to happen until around noon. So, I hop in the Jeep and head out. I could go through the water in front of my neighbors but I thought that uncouth so I'll just drive east on other side streets. Water. Well, that I can drive through. Crest a small hill. Water. Well, turning around isn't an option so I drove through it getting cheers from the people in a small group in a front yard. And some people wonder why I drive an elderly Jeep. I got through when others couldn't. I approach the office and traffic is at a stand still. I see the street lights by the office are flashing red. Drive around and come in the back way. Traffic is being diverted through our building's parking lot. Is it...?

Yup. Flooded.

What you can't see are the two cars to my right who made it only to the entrance to our west parking lot before they died. There is a white mini van that made it through the water only to die and the black car which didn't make it all the way through before dying.

A quick check of the rainfall totals and my area got close to 7 inches of rain. I don't care how good your storm sewer infrastructure is. That amount of rain in 24 hours is bound to overwhelm it. Yes, the semi made it through the standing water. This was gone by 10:30 a.m. Neighbors were still pumping when I came home at noon. The water has stopped coming in my basement but it will take until the weekend to dry out.

I looked at these cars and I thought, "Why did you even think you could make it through?" I realized at that point, no one teaches this in driver's education and car salesmen don't bring it up. If you're driving a car, you should never drive through standing water that's more than 3 inches deep. I can handle deeper water because my Jeep sits up higher but I made triple sure to dry off the brakes by pumping them at the next stop sign. I learned that from my dad and from our driver's ed teachers because, in a small town, they knew everyone and everyone counted on them to teach their kids right. Water up into the engine causes a whole host of problems. I felt a bit of sadness for these people because I'm willing to bet they honestly didn't know they shouldn't do this. The only problem they were concerned about was would the car float in this much water, not, would they kick water up into the engine and stall it out.

The potential exists for more rain tonight, more localized flooding. And I have friends in Texas who would love even a tenth of this. While they couldn't handle 7 inches in 24 hours, there would be dancing in the streets if they got an inch.

We'd say this weather was only fit for ducks but they were nowhere to be seen this morning unlike yesterday.

This was taken out the rear door of the office building. I parked on this side today. I'm thinking that much rain was too much, even for ducks.

Beverage:  Root Beer


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Good. One Just "Meh".

In order to entice me to try a new recipe, it has to be easy or feature flavors that I like. It can't make a huge amount. While leftovers are great for lunches at the office, too many and it just gets tossed which is a waste of money.

I've been poking around in the Pillsbury web site. I guess I joined it some time ago (I don't remember, but I'm registered) and, if I look down far enough in it, there have been recipes which spur my interest in digging out sauce pans and cookie sheets and flour, salt, butter, and eggs.

When Stanley was here, I made this cake. It's a yellow cake mix, eggs, oil, and mini chocolate chips. What attracted me to it was the addition of peanut butter into the batter. The recipe called for plain but I never have plain in the house. I always have chunky. I like chunky. Give me lots of peanut chunks in my peanut butter. Hence, unless there is a clear reason why I have to use plain, in anything requiring peanut butter, I use chunky.

It was a great photography moment to go with Stanley making cookies. The batter tasted pretty good, although the amount of peanut butter didn't really give this a peanut butter taste. I was kind of disappointed in that. While I didn't want a peanut butter cake, I have recipes to make something like that, I did want more peanut butter taste than there was.

It made a lot, as witnessed by the tube pan at the upper right. Once cut along the flutes, I tossed pieces into freezer bags and have them for snacks or to bring to lunch. The finished product is okay.

You can sort of taste the peanut butter and, for certain, the chocolate. It's a nice moist cake that holds its shape. It's much better with a couple dollops of Cool Whip on top. But to heartily recommend this, I can't. It's really not that much better than any other cake baked in a bundt pan. In fact, if I want to use that pan for making a cake, I have others that are far better than this.

I made a few other things I found in the web site, the cat cookies linked above, a puff pancake, and the stuffed ham and cheese pockets, that have been okay, but nothing I'm really excited to make again, when I really think about it. So, the rest of the recipes I printed because I thought they sounded good were gone through again and I really thought about what I wanted to cook. All but one of them were tossed. File those under "What was I thinking?" This is the one I kept.

Bacon cheddar chicken tenders. These are so easy.

I had a package of 3 large breasts so I cut them into pieces. The recipe uses just 4 breast pieces. You could use legs or wings or thighs, I'll bet, if you preferred those parts.

One half cup of Panko bread crumbs. I'd used Panko before and was sort of unimpressed. I have a friend who swears by them, but they didn't excite me. In this recipe, they were wonderful.

One half cup shredded cheddar. Make sure you get the fine shred. Medium shred doesn't want to stick to the chicken.

One egg and a teaspoon of water.

Three ounces of crumbled bacon. I had probably a half a package left from a previous fry so I just crushed all the pieces I had left.

Put the bread crumbs, cheese and bacon in a heavy plastic bag. Shake to mix. Beat the egg with the water in a small bowl. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Dip the breasts or breast pieces in the egg mixture and then drop into the bag. (Don't forget the dip in the egg mixture part. The bread crumb mix doesn't stick very well to the chicken otherwise.) Shake until the pieces are coated. Arrange all on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve with your favorite dip.

I found I didn't want dipping sauce for these. And with the size of some of the chicken pieces, I had two more meals. Served with potatoes and apple slices and I had a great dinner.

So, out of all the recipes I've tried, I have one that's a keeper. I guess that's the fun part of cooking. It opens up your palate to new tastes. They don't always work and I'm not skilled enough to figure out how to make them work, but when you find something you like, it's an "aha" moment.

Beverage:  Water