Thursday, April 27, 2017

Columbus Marathon

This was seriously a long time ago, but one of the proudest accomplishments of my life. The marathon is the only race where finishing was in doubt. I attempted this race three times, finishing only once. While just under four hours wasn't going to get me into the Boston Marathon, I was so happy I literally jumped over the finish line, fist pumping the air. Not the smartest thing to do on tired, shaky legs.

Potatoes Au Gratin

That pile of sliced potatoes from Monday's post went into this yummy Au Gratin recipe. I suggest doing an hour or so of exercise before chowing down on this. It's not for the calorie or carb faint-at-heart. 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 1 medium shallot, finely minced 
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced 
  • 4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8" thick 
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, cream, milk, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a light simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes,

Remove and discard the thyme Sprigs. Transfer the potato mixture to a 9x13 dish and sprinkle with Parmesan and cheddar cheese. Bake until the cream has thickened and is bubbling around the sides, and the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Clean Right

This chair was really dirty.  Was.  Thanks to the folks at Clean Right, it looks brand new.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Browser Benchmark Test

This is an easy tool to gauge how relatively well your web browser performs compared to others. My two-year-old Dell laptop with Chrome 57 hit an impressive 88.8 compared to 25.6 for Internet Explorer 11. My five-year old MacBook Air with Chrome 58 measured 55.3 and was bested by Safari 10's 64.3. Be patient, each run takes a few minutes to complete.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Reduced four pounds of Yukon potatoes to perfect 1/8" slices in under five minutes with the assistance of this V-Slicer Mandoline. Take care to keep your fingers away from the blades or they will meet the same fate.  Includes two blades for making thick and thin fries.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Farfalle with Crispy Prosciutto and Peas

This recipe had me at "Crispy Prosciutto". Super simple and quick, it's perfect for a weeknight. Not that you have to pair it with a bottle of Gary Farrell Pinot Noir and some fresh baked bread, but then again, why the heck not?

Thursday, April 20, 2017


This cute Google tool with keep a child (or your inner child) busy for hours. As you begin to draw, by holding a left-click and dragging around the canvas, Autodraw begins suggesting similar objects across the top. Click on one of those and your crude attempt is replaced with your selection.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stratus Helicopters

I don't know how this one didn't get into the blog for so long.  Back in October 2016 I had a 45 minute introduction and safety course about helicopters, then climbed aboard this blue two-seater on a beautiful sunny day for the ride of my life. I got to pilot the helicopter for about 15 minutes as we made a big loop around northern Cincinnati.  It's very touchy, but Matt was there to take over in a split second if needed.

He demonstrated during the flight how a helicopter, without engine power, can float down towards the ground, just like a glider. We fortunately didn't test out the final part of the maneuver, which would involve pitching the copter nose-up near the ground to kill the forward speed and falling the last few feet. But it's nice to know you can survive and not end up a splotch on the ground.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bathroom Remodel is Complete

With the installation of the shower door, the bathroom remodel is officially complete. Couldn't be more pleased with the results.  And I'll continue seeing Jason Best and his crew for awhile, as they are doing a basement in the house across the street.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sarna Sensitive

When my dermatologist recommended a new anti-itch lotion (eczema is my winter nemesis) which contained pramoxine hydrochloride, I researched a bit to find this half-price alternative, which does a very good job and much more budget-friendly.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Saucy Skillet-Poached Eggs

It's a treat to have breakfast for dinner and these eggs are sure to delight your taste buds. Oregano, chives, onion, garlic, feta cheese and red wine vinegar spice up the tomatoes, onion and bell pepper and indentations in the sauce provide a home to poach the eggs. A labor of chopping love well worth the effort.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Internet Down

This outage map shows what it's like when an Internet Service Provider (ISP), Spectrum Enterprise in this case, is having a bad day. The Down Detector web site, and its iOS app, offer real time status information and outages for all kinds of services, not just ISP's.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

TP-Link Smart Plug Mini

This is the floor lamp in our basement, which is now plugged into a TP-Link Smart Plug Mini and controlled by our Amazon Echo's. Why, you might ask?  Better TV viewing, is my answer.  I turn it on ("Alexa, turn the downstairs light on") before going downstairs, leaving the stairway light off, and proceed safely to my theater seat (the left one, which has the better angle for the cable box remote). When comfortably situated, I turn the lamp off ("Alexa, turn the downstairs light off") and enjoy my favorite shows in a properly darkened room.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Envelope Printing in Google Docs

Creating custom envelopes in Google Docs is a snap with a couple quick tips.

  1. Get the "Envelopes" add-on.  From within a Google Doc, click "Add-ons", then click on "Get add-ons...".  Search for "Envelopes" and click its plus sign.  When added, click "Add-ons" and hover over "Envelopes".  You'll see a number of different sizes to choose from.
  2. Add some cool fonts.  From within a Google Doc, click the down arrow next to the currently selected font and click on "More fonts..." at the bottom. Scroll down to discover a ton of fonts and click the ones you want added to your everyday drop down list. 
I used the "Dancing Script" font for the return address, the "Great Vibes" font for the addressee and a 5x7 size on the envelope below. 

A direct link to the Envelopes add-on is here:

Monday, April 10, 2017

OXO Can Opener

We recently upgraded our old manual opener with this one that features a snap-lock mechanism which replaces the manual death grip we had to previously apply. Add a larger handle and turning knob and those cans don't stand a chance. Probably a good time to find and donate the electric can opener, wherever it's hiding.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Chorizo Bell Peppers

Ground chorizo, a Spanish version of  pork sausage, adds a lot of spice to this modified stuffed bell pepper recipe. We cut the peppers horizontally through the middle, making half-height versions, which are easier to handle than a full pepper, which easily tips over.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Short for "HDMI - Consumer Electronics Control", TV's and their attached devices that include this feature can communicate back and forth, which allows features like a Blu-ray player's remote control changing the volume level on the TV, eliminating the need for grab the TV remote.  I'm fortunate that my Vizio TV calls this feature CEC, making it easy to recognize, while most others have some fancy trade name, which are listed towards the end of this very informative article.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

DLM Cooking School

My wife and I attended a couple's class at Dorothy Lane Market last weekend where we helped prepare an entire Easter dinner, including the 7 Layer Salad and Green Beans Almondine pictured below. We're now a big fan of parsnips, browned butter and bourbon glaze.

Dorothy Lane offers a long list of classes that you can find at this link. We're on the lookout for the next time they offer their homemade pasta class.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bathroom Painting

My body is too old to be doing this, but my brain can't seem to comprehend. Last weekend's project was repainting the first floor bathroom, replacing its bright orange walls with a neutral "Maybe Mushroom". It's amazing how a small 5'x5' walls-only (i.e. no ceiling) painting job turned me in a mashed couch potato. It's all good now, until we tackle repainting the office in a couple weeks. Could mean some hospital time in my future.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Lawn Mower

I decided to buy a new lawn mower instead of getting a broken cable repaired on the old one. I was just about to pick up the phone and call the country dump to see how to dispose of it when I thought maybe Goodwill might want it. A quick check of their web site confirmed that they do, and supports their job training programs. There is an attended donation center less than a mile from work, and they helped unload the mower. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!