Mets vs. Cards in a spring training game today. I already met the Laclede Gas worker this morning. They prefer to do inspections every three years to make sure the meter is operating correctly and there are no leaks. We passed. They installed a transmit meter about three years ago so there is no need for an actual reading any longer. However, the inspector said they occasionally get one that over or under charges for gas. Our bill is being stable and we have done the proper actions to weatherize our home. Plus, Neale has us on budget billing.
I have a haircut today and I am grading currently.
The rain kept us from walking yesterday. It is cold and damp again today.
Following my desire to make homemade items that are typically too expensive or contain ingredients I do not want to consume, I made my first bottle of aftershave balm. My shave oil recipe is working well and the addition of Castor oil improved it. Currently, it is Castor oil, Burt's Lemon Oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. My problem with razor burn is gone. Homemade aftershave balm is Thayer's Rose Petal witch hazel (no alcohol) with aloe vera and glycerin. I could add essential oil for scent. While researching the aftershave balm, I found a recipe for homemade bay rum and that is worth a try.
Neale is attending an Oscar party at a coworkers place. I am passing as tomorrow is work day for me. Neale has the day off. The coworker also lives 45 mins. away so she probably won't be home until well after 11PM. I will watch at home. We both made our Oscar picks.
The Oscar Best Picture marathon went well yesterday. I stayed for 3 films and Neale did all 5. I did not want Ellis to be alone all day but his autofeeder did its job. Neale liked "Milk" more than I did and that was because I thought "The Reader" was so good. "Benjamin Button" was about an hour too long but a neat idea. We both agree "Slumdog" is the best picture this year. She saw "Frost/Nixon", which was the last feature starting at 9:15PM and was quite impressed. Ron Howard makes very good films, brother Clint made his usual appearance, and she would like to see the stage version of the film.
Today, we went to Sweet Tomatoes since we received a "buy one, get one free" coupon and then we did a family walk.
I made slow cooker steel cut oats for breakfast. I started it before I went to bed and it is ready in the morning. After I cleaned the bowl for the slow cooker, I started a vegetable chowder. Last night, I was watching "Emeril Green" and he was doing soufflés. I have never made a soufflé so I am curious about the technique. The ingredients are simple enough so it is a dish that I will be trying soon.
I was looking at my sources of protein. Besides my regular consumption of whey protein, which Neale likes now too in a smoothie, I have beans, Match meats, tofu, and tempeh. I am also mixing in eggs and cottage cheese these days. The salt content in cottage cheese I find remarkable and unnecessary. Between my primary protein sources, Match meats has the most salt and tempeh the least. Tempeh has been tasting really good lately and has the highest ratio of protein to serving size.
Luckily, I am caught up on work so today is not too busy with my online classes. I have the heavy bag hung and need to use the Soloflex since Tuesday's workout was skipped. My left shoulder has been sore so I applied Farnam Liniment, which did the trick. I will purchase the gel version next time though.
Ellis used his autofeeder yesterday as a test. It worked well and he had a moment realizing that not only humans provide food. The autofeeder is for the rare times we are away during his afternoon meal.
We went to the Pet Parade and posted photos HERE. We grabbed a free bag of Beggin' Strips during the parade and Ellis was quite grateful. Afterwards, we went to Home Depot for ceiling tiles and Trader Joe's for supplies.
~ 10:38 AM ~
"...The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread.~Portuguese Proverb..."
Everest Cafe was really good. It is a small place in a part of the city that is in transition. We have been to that area before as we spent a night at the Atomic Cowboy once. I had the traditional vegetarian Nepalese meal and Neale tried their chicken tikka masala since they won Best Indian in the RiverFront Times this year. Overall, very good food, service was o.k, and worth the time. On a somber note, a couple that left the restaurant before we did had their window smashed on a 10 year old Accord for an 8 year old radio. It ruined their night as they had to wait for Saint Louis City police and they had tickets for an event after dinner. This all to familiar part of city life played out in front of everyone as the restaurant is about 15 tables and quite cozy. We tried Bailey's Chocolate Bar and Cyrano's for dessert but they were packed as you would expect. We did try Park Avenue Coffee and called it a night.
Today, I picked up breakfast at First Watch and we are headed for a walk. In the afternoon, there is the annual Soulard Dog parade and Ellis has not missed one yet.
In a rare early winter morning, I was able to get to my auto dealership before 9AM for an oil change. The carrot was the 19 minutes it took for an oil change. The stick was the extra charge for synthetic oil, which is more expensive than regular oil, of course. I used synthetic in my previous car because of the high miles I reached. The reason I was a touch surprised this morning was the fact that the dealership included discounted oil changes with the car purchase. However, the discount for for standard oil. The Prius advertises and uses synthetic oil as it is a 'weapon of less consumption'. The age ol' way of how your dealerships makes money is.....yes, service. Who drives a Prius with standard oil anyhow?
I picked up breakfast at Panera for us and then we walked on the Grants Trail. Neale accepted a free hug from some guy and a little girl. The little girl half hugged me as I am leery of strangers. The guy bore a resemblance to Damone from "Fast Times" as well. If it was the lead singer from Damone, well then I would have accepted a hug.
"...These are not my people, I should never have come here
I know a place, I've seen the face..."
I was up early enough to see Neale off this morning. She had an election. The night before she took time to set up the US flag she now has to display at elections. It is made in the U S of A but could use a design overhaul. The stand is hardly easy to assembly.
After a late afternoon meeting on Thursday, I met her at home and we went to Llywelen's for dinner and stopped at Serendipity for a scoop.
Today, I spent the morning grading, used the Soloflex and took Ellis for a walk plus a backyard game of fetch. Then, we picked my Prius, which spent a day in the shop. It looks great.
After checking with our real estate agent and getting comp values, we are holding tight for 8 to 10 months. We did not like the numbers we saw in other home sales given the investment we have made in our home. Since we do not have to move, this is not a real problem. However, we have been looking forward to a new home with new projects.
Neale needed some product from a kiosk in the Galleria Mall. When I arrived a sign was up stating the person stepped away for 10 minutes and there was a guy already waiting. He did not like the wait and stated he was considering becoming a criminal. After another 2 minutes, he did just that. He walked away with two bottles. The kiosk attendant returned about 2 minutes later and I made my purchase. I mentioned to her that there was a possible theft. I had to give my second description of a perp in the same afternoon.
~ 02:19 PM ~
"...There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness..."
In a sign of a tough economy, a coworker just had their laptop stolen. I may have seen the criminal. Yes, the first time I get to use the phrase 'perp" in the journal. A student stopped in to ask where to find another staff member and I gave him the info. A security member stopped by to ask for my description.
The albondigas soup I made Neale was a good first attempt. She loved the meatballs but the broth needed something. My vegan etouffee was very good as I made an oven roux, which was great. My oven roux is 4 parts oil, 4 parts flour at 350 for 90 minutes. It comes out at a dark royal brown color.
Last week I had the idea to add a new feature to my workout. Having a treadmill at home is great but walking in a basement is not that exciting. To vary my aerobic workout, I decided to buy a heavy bag. I purchased an Everlast 80 pound canvas bag. I used it on Friday for 30 minutes. I broke it down to rounds with a break in between. My shoulders were sore over the weekend. With the combinations and foot work, it is a great break out.
Our kitchen sink is a Moen sink, which is just a few years old. It was installed when we rehabbed the room. Our plumber installed and set the sink. So, I was unaware that the side spray connects using a unique piece, which slips over the copper pipe and compresses around the pipe. The replacement part sold as Home Depot, Lowe's, and my favorite Ace Hardware features screw on connector. There is nothing for me to screw on to and my problem has stumped the hardware store staffs. The associate at Home Depot stated that Moen will replace the part for free. However, when I called them the wait time was estimated at 30 minutes. I will call again. I will also try the Soulard Plumbing Supply, which is located in Webster Groves. Go figure. They closed at noon on Saturday and are not open today. In the meantime, we are without a kitchen sink.
Yesterday, we walked at Powder Valley, which does not allow dogs. We saw five deer. The trails are paved but very steep at times. Neale's calves are sore today. It was a good walk especially since it was in the high 60s. I had all the windows open to air the house out. Since I barely burned homemade brown bag popcorn the night before, it helped. We watched "Burn After Reading" and it was ok.
Last night we at Amigo's, which is now my favorite Mexican place and Neale claims Casa Gallardo, which is mostly for sentimental reasons. Her brother was also a bus boy there many years ago. After a set of after dinner Patron shots, we headed to the Kirkwood Memorial. It was a well designed event. Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped at Stone Cold Creamery. I cannot recommend the chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream.
Neale is seeing a movie ("Revoluntary Road"). I need to stop at the market for vegetables. I am making her albondigas soup and I have a recipe for vegan etouffee.
I tried watching "Tremors" this morning and I found it unwatchable.
This morning I met the Dawson & Dodd repairman as twice this week the heater turned itself off overnight and at midday. I have a way to reset it but getting out of bed with the house being 58 degrees is not a way we wish to greet the morning. They had been out earlier this winter to clean the unit and the repairman found nothing wrong today. However, he suspected the ignitors but they have not failed yet and we maybe moving soon. So, the next owner will be notified of the situation. We would replace the furnace outright if were staying.
We are planning on attending the Kirkwood ceremony tomorrow if the weather cooperates.
I was frustrated with Comodo's firewall hogging resources so I switched to another free firewall program. Sunbelt is working nicely. Comodo works fine on our laptop. I added the max memory to the laptop as we use it on trips. Since it works better I have it setup for regular updates now and use it to stream music.
For no apparent reason, my home office chair failed on me after 4 years of use. I am seeking replacement parts.
6 more weeks of winter says Phil. Like Phil, I was happy the Steelers won the game. It was quite a game for once. Neale found herself cheering for the Cardinals. The food was really good. We felt the pizza was rushed as they were closing earlier. The use of mushrooms seemed haphazard. The guac was really good as I used my homemade chili powder for the first time.
As with the past few years, we are celebrating Groundhog Day with a toast and I am making a special drink. The drink is brown but the ingredients change every year.
"...In this life you can lose everything you love, everything that loves you..."
Yesterday, the weather was quite warm for January as it hit a high of 60. We went for a walk, which was good for Ellis as well. But, he need to be cleaned upon his return as it was wet & sloppy out with the melting snow. We saw "The Wrestler" at the Tivoli in the its main theater. Mickey Rourke gave a great performance and deserves an Oscar. However, I will know more in a few weeks but we did see "The Visitor" last night. "The Visitor" was good but not as good as "The Wrestler".
Next, we picked up Jack (Neale's grandfather) and headed to Dewey's in Ellisville for Britt's birthday dinner. Jack returned the Tuperware from Thanksgiving but still has two wings in his freezer. I guess we did a really good bird last year. He was still raving about my Stroganoff from Christmas Day. Dewey's was good but as anyone who knows Dewey's resturants there is no waiting area really and getting seating for 12 on a Saturday night can be a challenge. They will not seat a party until half are in attendance. Overall, it went well but Neale, Jack and myself arrived too soon.
Today, we went for a walk after I prepped our Super Bowl menu. I started the Little Smokies for Neale, made the guac and made our veggie tray. Neale is picking up the pizza later. Since I was in the kitchen, I made a Haberno pepper sauce base (onion, carrots, water, garlic, habs, white vinegar, lime juice, & salt). I used 30 habs and it had the scent of napalm when I should over the pot. After using the stick blender on the batch, I let it cool and placed in a screw top mason jar. Before sealing it, Neale tried a taste and immediately regretful. I will use the sauce as a base for other recipes, such the veg dip I making today for the game.
We are set for the AMC Oscar Best Picture marathon. I went last year but Neale has been all three years.
I was cleaning the barley wine carboy when I realized the sprayer hose on the sink has a tear in the tubing. The other day I noticed a dampness on the cleaning bottles below the sink and I was curious about the reason. I am going to replace the hose as it seems too difficult to seal properly.
I may brew a hefe today. Three of my carboys are empty and I have a brew planned after the hefe to clean out the grain stock.
This recipe may be one of the most disgusting foods I have seen in quite awhile. Yes, haggis is still number one.
The good news: I'm alive. The bad news: recall letters. Since I teach classes back to back, I have a few moments between classes to eat something to keep my energy up. I have chosen to nosh a protein bar between breakfast (my protein shake) and lunch. Apples are a close second. Since Costco sells Cliff Bars and they have a decent protein content, I buy those by the case. I finished the box I had I work today and I received my letter from Costco when I arrived home that Cliff Bars have been recalled due the peanut butter issue. Luckily, I dodged a bad batch, I guess.
After using the Soloflex, making Neale dinner (she requested homemade mac & cheese), and using the treadmill, I shoveled the driveway again. I believe we will have a total of 7 inches of snow by midnight. I am glad I shoveled twice and cleaned my car as well.
Watching "The Pink Floyd Story: Which One's Pink" while on the treadmill made the experience of walking in place much better.
Neale has two estimates for the Prius bumper. It should be fixed within two weeks. They need two days for paint.
Yesterday, the weather reports were saying how bad the storms would be overnight. So, I was expecting a snow day. Close to 600 area schools and businesses decided that their clients, students, and employees would be better served by staying off the roads. My employer did not agree. I disagreed with my employer and used a personal day. In my 11 years of teaching, I have left 2 hours before a class to make it on time since I was an adjunct and I have gone to work to have the school closed due to weather. I have to drive home 2 hours for the latter. In other words, I do not miss class...until today. I worked from home and used the web to tell my students. Many of them emailed me to state they could not make it and I understood their choice.
Neale slept later to avoid rush hour and to give the salt trucks time to work. The storm ended right before rush hour and is starting up again.
I had a productive day and using the web, my coworkers and I were able to finalize the details of an event on Thursday. We have invited Dr. James Loewen to visit our campus and speak to our students. It should be really cool.
I cleared the driveway and played ball with Ellis in the backyard. He was able to find his ball despite the snow.
Neale won the 50/50 last night at her trivia contest. Her team placed well but did not win. However, it was for a good cause.
This morning we went for a walk despite the snow. We got about an inch but it was so light I was able to use the push broom to sweep the driveway, front walk, and the backyard patio. Ellis and I were out playing ball in the yard when the phone rang. Neale left after our walk to see the film "Doubt". She had a small accident in the Prius at the bottom of a hill in Webster. She is fine but my Prius bumper is cracked. Luckily, the other vehicle (a Chevy Venture) was undamaged. So, we are in the market for a new Prius bumper, which is not a big deal but an inconvenience.
I am bottling my barley wine and making Neale broccoli cheese soup. I made a veg hot & sour soup for lunch and it was very good.
"...The most common name in the world is Mohammed..."
We watched hours of inauguration coverage yesterday. It was worth the wait and inspiring.
Yesterday was our first day back to each of our regular jobs. My classes started and 5:30AM came too early. Plus, unless you are use to it, speaking and standing for 5 hours takes some getting use to for me. In about a week, I will be back to normal but this is a new schedule and the flexibility from semester to semester is great. I have promised not to teach on campus this summer since I could use an actual summer break and we are planning to move in the near future. Neale had a good day back but found sitting up a change. She had been comfortably lounging on the sofa and an office chair is a change. She was able to watch the inauguration live at work and found it moving.
I cleaned the fireplace this morning since we had two natural wood fires over the weekend. Also, the stove needed a cleaning after the holiday workout it received.
Ellis and I walked after my workout. I get to spend most of my Wednesday at home this semester since I just have a night class. It is quite a change from my 5 class Wednesdays last fall.
I contacted American Tourister to repair our luggage but they have no record of our set (strange!?!) so they cannot find the part I need. I have to mail the bag to Kansas since the Saint Louis repair site closed.
If it stays nice, I want to work in the yard this weekend.
"...A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go.
Let all of his complexion choose me so...."
We both slept late on our last day of vacation. We traveled to Powder Valley and Lone Elk the other day. We found both of them did not allow pets, which is understandable at Lone Elk since they have live animals to view. We will return to them without Ellis in the near future. Since I want to start hiking in Missouri, I found a trail near the Missouri river called Howell Island. We hiked about 4 miles and it was a nice walk, which will be better in the spring. We stopped at Kaldi's on the way home.
"...And all of a sudden, girls were paying attention to him. Girls who weren't on medication..."
Neale got home after I called it a night so I do not know how the night went. It may have been a late one as she is not vertical yet. Yesterday, on the way to a park, a Kaiser Chief song was on SiriusXMU and Neale commented it sounded "Ramonesesque". I disagreed and think the Kaiser Chiefs should find other employment. Oddly enough, "End of the Century", the Ramon doc is currently on.
We are going for a walk and watching football.
I used the shedding brush on Ellis. It did its job very well.
"...My girlfriend, she loves the taste of communion wafers..."
I cleaned the house soon atfer raising. We burned a natural wood fire last night instead of our usual Duraflame logs so there was some ash to vacuum. Plus, the house had not been cleaned since we returned from vacation. We tried Powder Valley but learned they were not dog (or pet friendly) so we ventured to Lone Elk and found the same situation. On the way back to Hwy 44, I missed a stop sign so we stumbled into Buder Field and played ball with Ellis for 30 mins. Then, we went to Kirkwood to find Grant's Trail and did our walk. After the walk, we went to Sweet Tomatoes, Walgreen's for wrapping paper and home. Ellis was tired after all the activity, which made him a prime candidate for a bath. Neale is out with coworkers for Matt's MBA graduation party. She spent most of yesterday looking for a sterling silver Cross pen for him. He only uses Cross pens. I prefer Pilot G-2 gel pens. Ellis got a bath, which he needed despite the chill outside.
The light in the basement works now. Neale met the electrician as I am at work. The high temp for today is 11F so we are staying in. I am working out and using the treadmill. Neale is enjoying the old seasons of "Mad Men". I am not interested.
On Tuesdays during LCCC's in-service week, we have a full faculty session, which illustrated the use of rhythm to manage stress. There were also sessions covering technology in teaching, such as using MS Groove. The session ending a bit early so I was able to return home so we could go see a movie with our free passes. We saw "Valkyrie", which Neale liked but I felt it lacked passion and was mislabeled as a thriller. Then, we walked despite the chill. However, the temperature drops further on Thursday.
"...I was complaining, I was down in the dumps
I feel so strong now 'cause you pulled me up!
Pull me up up up up up up up up!..."
Yesterday, I gave a Cincinnati chili recipe a try and it turned out well. This morning, I used the slow cooker for overnight oatmeal. Steel cut oats are worth the time. And yes, I am up early...back to school.
Last night, I stopped at Whole Foods for a few items and decided to spend some of our Border's gift cards at the store next door. Borders is still not restocked from the holidays but I found music that Neale (& I wanted to some extent) in the bins. We purchased the latest Radiohead, Blonde Redhead's album and two Interpol discs.
I managed to rise at a reasonable hour this morning. I was back to the Soloflex before I left for work. I came to work after noon and accomplished a few things already, which is not too shabby for a Monday during in-service week. Classes start on January 20th.
I called our electrician and they came get to us later this week.
Ellis is probably wondering where everyone went this morning.
Neale slept late as she has another week of vacation. I am attempting to return to a more normal clock as I have to return to meetings tomorrow. We went for a walk, played with Ellis, and watched the NFL games. The snow that was predicted for this weekend missed us. The winter has been very mild in Saint Louis this year.
Random thought: I was watching "Gacy" the other night and I remember there being an issue surrounding his surviving paintings after his execution. The paintings were destroyed. How come Hitler has a publisher for "Mein Kempf"? Who profits from that?
"24" did not disappoint.
We did not watch the "Golden Globes" but we noticed the winners. Our local theater chain has done an "Oscar Best Movie" nominee screening in late January/early February. We have only seen "Slumdog" from the Golden Globe nominee list. We have avoided seeing potential nominees with that one exception. On Tuesday, we plan to use our free movie passes from the Can Film Fest.
Since I enjoyed hiking in Arizona, we plan to hike Missouri this year. I have been researching gear.
With the new year, I tweaked my Soloflex routine to keep it interesting and I modified my diet for a change.
We arrived in Chicago on Thursday night. The flight was only slightly delayed in Phoenix (America's Friendliest Airport?) and we made the time up in the air. Neale watched "The Hours" while we were in transit. I was reading the latest copy of "Guitar Player" and enjoying the view as we were 35,000 feet on a clear night. We arrived at Chicago to sit on the tarmac so the time we made up in the air was neutralized. But, the bags were on time and my parents picked us up with no trouble. We had dinner at Macaroni Grill and watched the camcorder vids when we arrived home.
The trip back to Saint Louis took longer than usual as we stopped twice. There was a high number of police out for a Friday as we spotted 15+ patrol cars. In Springfield, we used the WiFi to look up House of India's menu. It is one of our favorite restaurants but with Hwy 40/64 closed from Kingshighway to 170, it is more difficult to get to especially during rush hour. It was worth though. When we arrived home, I spent the night unpacking and doing laundry. Neale watched movies.
Today, it is a lovely 30 degrees and we plan to walk after errands. Neale is picking up the mail and I am finding groceries. Our mail person delivered our neighbor's mail to us while we were gone so Neale returned it last night. While talking to our neighbor, we confirmed that their oldest daughter went to Northern Arizona U. I remembered seeing a sweatshirt next door while I was raking leaves in the past. She is training to be a Grand Canyon tour guide and teaches Native Americans that live in the Canyon English. You cannot fault that.
My Dad is burning the camcorder vids to a disk and I will start sorting the 400+ pictures I took during the trip soon. Check for vacation updates soon. Our next trip is Portland in the spring, New York during the summer, and we may go to the south during the coming winter.
We spent the day in Sedona hiking. We hiked to the Boynton Canyon vortex and the Airport vortex at sunset. We took many still photos and several minutes of video. Thanks Mom & Dad for the loaned Sony Handycam. It is a pleasure to use and it is documenting our trip well. We are headed to Oregano's for dinner.
In Vegas, DSL was $13 a day and there was none at our Canyon motel. So, today (our first full day in Flagstaff) is our first day back online. We are spending a day here and then heading down to Sedona.
The Palms was a "C average" hotel as food was not that good, service was terrible, and the staff could learn from the French about hospitality. Since the economy is tight, the games are not paying as often. We had a gambling budget as we both both work hard for our salaries and I was raised with what the value of a dollar really meant. We made no money at the Palms but we did win at the Bellagio. Dinner at the Bellagio was excellent (Olives), the "O" Show was fantastic, and seeing Neale's grandmother was very nice. Overall, Vegas were good but we did not expect it to be the highlight of the trip. Next time, we are looking for a hotel with more service/dining than gaming/partying. We found two hours for shopping and used our holiday cash at the Vegas Premium Outlets. Our rental car is a Pontiac G6, which is a fine car for a Pontiac but I am less than impressed by their 23.5 mpg since I switched to a Prius. While in Vegas, we stopped at the Whole Foods and Borders. The Whole Foods was huge compared to our Saint Louis store. We shopped at Borders since we thought the desert radio may leave us without a reliable station during our drive. Neale also wanted a film for the flight since she was not able to take the 4 hour flight without a video.
The Hoover Dam was seen on the way to the Canyon. We did the power plant tour and saw the exterior of the dam, which was impressive. Then, we drove to Grand Canyon, which was a 4 hour trip. So, we arrived at the Grand Canyon after dark and exhausted. In the morning, we made it to the Rim by 10AM but there was snow & ice on the trails to the Canyon floor. We hiked the Rim for a few hours and looked at the Canyon, which was unique and expansive. We took film and video of an elk that was enjoying lunch, a deer that was resting, and ourselves witnessing the Canyon. After the Canyon, we drove to Flagstaff and enjoyed the scenic San Francisco Mountains. We found a Thai restaurant for dinner and watched the Fiesta Bowl.