Friday, December 4, 2020

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple

We all know that bacon makes everything better, but the rarely-used bottle of maple syrup is the star of this show.  Chef Elaine cut the Brussels sprouts in half and seared them in leftover bacon fat until they began to caramelize.  They then get baked in the oven until nicely charred.  Departing the oven, the sprouts are set aside and shallots and cumin are added to the pan, cooked a couple minutes to open up their flavors, then the magic maple syrup, mustard, salt, and pepper are added and whisked until all bubbly.  The sprouts are added back to the pan, which is then removed from the heat, minced chives added and everything swirled around until evenly coated.  Transfer to a serving bowl and top with crumbled bacon.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

ZingZang Margarita Mix

I've made many "Perfect Margaritas" using the recipe made famous by Applebee's, but that means pulling out several bottles and a lot of measuring.  Since we already are a fan of ZingZang's Bloody Mary mix, we thought we would give their Margarita Mix a try, using the handy package of 8-ounce cans shown below.  Mix together one can of the mix with 3-4 ounces of Don Julio tequila, and a splash of Club Soda and serve with a lime wedge if you wish some extra curb appeal.  It's the best version of a quick-and-easy Margarita we've found so far.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Metal Credit Cards

If you haven't tried to cut up one of the new metal credit cards, well, it's going to take more than the pair of scissors you used to destroy the plastic variety.  I ended up using a pair of tin snips, as shown below, to carve it into tiny little pieces.

Other ways to deal with these cards are listed at the link below, with the most entertaining being using a blowtorch or a fire pit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Wright Brothers At Woodland Cemetery

Among the many rich and famous buried at Woodland Cemetery, The Wright Brothers are arguably the most recognizable.  Below the vertical Wright monument are Orville, Wilbur, and their sister Katerine, their parents Milton and Susan, and their twin siblings, Otis and Ida, both of which died within a month of their birth.  Also buried elsewhere in Woodland is the famous brother's older sibling Lorin, while their oldest sibling, Reuchlin, is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.

The pennies, seashells, and small toys on top of the graves shown below are left by visitors letting them know that they visited.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Dayton Skyline

One of the coolest views of the Dayton skyline comes from the perch that is Lookout Terrace at Woodland Cemetery, located across Stewert Street from the University of Dayton.  From there you're looking to the northwest and are high enough to put the treetops at the bottom of your view.   

Walking through Woodland is a history lesson from the Civil War forward and helps explain where so many of our local street names came from.  It's a hilly walk, but worth the extra effort.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich

This recipe is a breakfast, lunch, and with enough maple syrup, dessert combined into one.  You start by making French toast and setting aside.  Add beaten eggs to a skillet with a tablespoon of melted butter, place French toast on top (last picture), and cook until the eggs are firm.  Then comes the hardest part, flipping the entire thing upside down in one piece.  Divide it with one French toast on each side, then add cheese, ham, and turkey (middle picture).  When the cheese is melted, fold each half over and serve with (did I already say) ... maple syrup!

Thursday, November 26, 2020


As geeky as I can sometimes (i.e. always) be, the credit goes to my wife's eldest son for making me realize that our HBO subscription with Spectrum cable includes the HBO Max streaming service.  It took a while to figure out how to add that to our Amazon Fire TV Cube devices, but now we're ready (yeah!) for the Christmas day release of "Wonder Woman 1984".  The link below will take you directly to the page where you can add HBO Max to your Amazon device.  If you only have other streaming devices (e.g. Apple TV, Chromecast) at your disposal, your luck can vary, as HBO Max is not readily available on all the most popular devices.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

One Cow Apart

It's not often that I get a chuckle off of COVID-related instructions, but this sign at Dot's Market in Kettering did the trick.  And I really like that it's made out of burnable cardboard, as I'm sure there will be many bonfires lit when this is over.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Squirrel Defense

My older brother built this plank-mounted version of an electric fence as a non-lethal deterrent to the squirrel population, leaving the seeds in the birdfeeder to their intended audience.  It uses a Patriot PE2 Electric Fence Energizer found at the link below, which includes a few videos showing just how effective this solution is, and just how far small animals can jump if juiced properly (pun intended).

Monday, November 23, 2020

1945 Dayton Street Map

During my genealogy work, I have encountered several cases where streets or parts of streets where my ancestors lived no longer exist.  The most recent case was a street named Stillwater Avenue that didn't show up on a Google search.  I had to find an old Dayton map with a street cross-reference, in this case from 1945, that included Stillwater Avenue and found that it was replaced with the current, southern-most section of Riverside Drive, where it terminates at the bridge to cross the Great Miami River and become Patterson Blvd on the southern side.

The map shows that Riverside Drive followed the river back then all the way until it terminated, instead of the current route where it follows the river until it goes under I-75, then bends right, away from the river, to line up with Patterson Blvd.  That land east of the current Riverside Drive is where Temple Israel and the Korean War Veterans Memorial now stand.

You can download a PDF of the 1945 map at this link.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Shortcut Basil Pesto Lasagna

We're steadily adding vegetarian recipes to our collection, but only those that the rest of our meat-eating family will surely appreciate.  This lasagna includes lots of mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta cheese and features a homemade Alfredo sauce and homemade pesto.  Since a vegetarian recipe should have a vegetable included, spinach fills that role and adds some extra color.  

Kudos to Chef Elaine for yet another great feast!

Thursday, November 19, 2020


We have two closets in our house that don't have lights and could really use them, but instead of going through the trouble of getting an electrical circuit installed we opted for this battery-powered, motion-detecting LED alternative.  You just insert three AA batteries, remove the covering over the sticky mounting plate and press it wherever works best.  I don't know how often we'll have to replace the batteries, but most of the drain will come from the light sensor that detects motion, as the LEDs will be on at most one minute a week.  At under $13, it's an effective solution for our needs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Turn Signal On

A few months ago I discovered my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee had a feature I was totally unaware of, that being a warning that I had left a turn signal on too long.  I had made a swooping left turn that did not turn off the turn signal and I didn't realize that.  A mile later the Jeep makes the "beep-beep" sound that usually means a door or liftgate was not totally closed, then after a few seconds, I noticed the message "TURN SIGNAL ON" displayed in the Vehicle Information Center display.  I wish I had the wits enough to take a picture of that to share, but it did lead me to look up other messages that could potentially also be displayed, as shown below.

I've either never had that feature on any of my other cars or this is the first time I've ever left a turn signal on that long (which is kind of hard to believe).  In any case, it's a cool feature. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Touchup Cup

We saw these on the TV show Shark Tank and they solved two big problems, first, that gallon paint cans take up a lot of storage space, and second, after a few years the metal cans rust around the inside of the lid and ruin the paint.  We took six partial gallons and poured them into the containers below and labeled each with the manufacturer's number, name, date, and the room we used it in.  To use it, just shake it (each cup has a circular spring in it to help in mixing) then unscrew the cap.

This invention was created by a kid named Carson in West Chester, Ohio who saw the problem with stored paint and decided to create a solution.

Monday, November 16, 2020


My 37-month-old Pixel 2's battery was failing to hold a charge and since the smartphone in all other ways is still working great (and looks brand new), it was time for a battery replacement.  My normal place, Batteries+Bulbs, to my surprise does not offer that service for my phone, so I went looking for another option and found uBreakiFix, located on SR-741 just south of Spring Valley Pike.  According to the staff there, performing the necessary phone surgery on a Pixel 2 is very demanding and time-consuming compared to other types of smartphones, but they had it done in about 4 hours and now I'm good for another 3+ years or maybe when the Pixel 8 comes out...

Friday, November 13, 2020

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Chicken Stew

This chicken stew gets a kick from its onion, cumin, fire-roasted tomatoes, and chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.  It makes a great addition to your slow-cooker recipe rotation.  You can either serve on tortillas or just ladle a good-sized portion (last picture), then top either way with cheese, avocado, and cilantro.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lessons In Cybersecurity

The "A few words about..." series of short videos in the YouTube playlist at the link below, from the University of Dayton's Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence, is a great place to get good advice to keep yourself safe online.  I would add that perhaps the most important thing when online is to "SLOW DOWN", think before you click, and keep a suspicious mind at all times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Amazing Mayonnaise

An accidental circular water stain once (dis)graced this end table.  My wife looked up how to remedy that and found a very surprising answer: mayonnaise.  She squirted some on the stain and rubbed it in with her fingers, then repeated that a couple hours later.  Stain ... gone!   Mayo is made mainly from oil (e.g. canola, avocado, safflower, etc.) which seeps into the finish and displaces the moisture.  More techniques for removing water stains can be found in this Bob Villa article.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Gutter Hose

I can't believe I didn't post this back in 2013 when I was faced with gutters filled with frozen ice.  I tried chipping out the ice to no avail.  I tried using a small blowtorch (a really dumb idea) and got nowhere.  A little Internet searching provided some hope, but it didn't seem possible, which fortunately didn't stop me from trying.  As per the directions at the link below, I bought a pair of pantyhose, cut off the waist, filled a leg with calcium chloride driveway salt, and laid it on top of a section of frozen gutter.  The next morning I got back up on the ladder and to my complete surprise, that section of gutter was completely clear of ice.  Bought more pantyhose, more salt and repeated the process and by the next day, the gutters were all clear.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Fall Meatloaf

This recipe is a complete Thanksgiving dinner in a loaf, combining ground turkey, stuffing crumbs, onions, celery, garlic, and eggs topped with a sauce of simmered ketchup, jellied cranberries, and a whole jalapeno (which is removed but is essential for the right kick).  The turkey mixture will be quite wet, so our suggestion is to put it in the refrigerator for an hour or two to help give it some stiffness, which will help you form it into a loaf.  The addition of sweet potato wedges for the last 45 minutes of baking completes the feast.  Like a Thanksgiving feast, you'll happily have leftovers for several days.

Thursday, November 5, 2020


After a long wait, and a helpful visit to the store to find they actually had received it a week or two ago, the last piece of new living room furniture is in place, a La-Z-Boy rocker/recliner.  While I'm not a big fall-asleep-in-a-chair type of person, this bad boy is going to seriously test that.  Now that the furniture is in place, we move on to painting, replacing the drapes and rug to match the walls and furniture, and cap it off with a coffee table.  2020 has been a big year for house projects, as I expect many folks are also saying. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

An Act to Encourage the Killing of Squirrels

In early Ohio, this little guy below would have been in imminent danger, as I would have been compelled by the 1807 state law, “An Act to Encourage the Killing of Squirrels" in our area to turn in 100 squirrel scalps per year or face a 3 cent fine for each I was short.  While that was a short-lived law as the severe winter of 1807-1808 took out a lot of these furry critters, by 1822 they had made such a comeback that organized hunting parties across the state took out about 20,000 of them.  

Back then squirrels were a major threat to corn and other crops and people "worked the summer to survive the winter".  So however cute you might have thought they were, your stomach ruled the day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Lunar Halo

Last Saturday we were a bit confused with a first-of-our-lifetime experience of seeing a large ring around the moon.  Turned out to be a Lunar Halo, the light being refracted and reflected by high-altitude ice crystals.  It did add some extra spookiness to the Halloween evening.

According to rhyming folklore, 

"A ring around the sun or moon 

  means rain or snow is coming soon."

Monday, November 2, 2020

Logs With Holes

Our best backyard fire pit blazes come from getting a really hot fire started and then topping it with a large log that has a hole (or two or more) in it, as shown below.  The extra flow of oxygen really gets it going and it burns on both the outside and the inside.  So if you run across some of these odd-looking logs, make sure to snap them up and save them for a special night (and a glass of wine).

Friday, October 30, 2020


My wife used this old-school glass Pyrex tube to make a perfect 3.5" round loaf of bread for a recent family dinner.  She just oiled a loaf of frozen bread dough, dusted it with poppy seeds, slid it into the tube, let it rise, and baked it until golden brown.  She slid it out of the tube and cut it into perfectly-sized (not over-sized!) slices.  Topped with Irish butter, it was quite the treat.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Awesome Arthur

Back in June, I visited Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar in the North Carolina Outer Banks and decided on one occasion to try one of their specialty drinks, namely an Awesome Arthur.  It was a delicious and potent combination of vodka, gin, rum, tequila mixed with pineapple, orange juice, and grenadine, and topped with Cruzan 151 rum.  Sort of like a Long Island Ice Tea, except with citrusy fruit juices.  I'll have to experiment next summer with the proportions, but this is definitely a make-at-home drink.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Kettering Leaf Collection

One of the nicer benefits of living in Kettering is the residential leaf collection service, which is provided at no additional cost.  The city is divided into 11 areas and trucks go sequentially through those areas, sucking up leaves as shown below, then repeat their path several times until early December.  All we have to do is get our leaves to the curb and since we can see what area they are currently working on (see the link below), we can time our efforts so leaves don't sit for too long before they are picked up.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Waffle-Iron Stuffing

We took a box of Stove-Top stuffing, made it per the directions, then dropped it all on a Pam-sprayed waffle iron.  After several minutes the stuffing developed a crispy outside and perhaps best of all, it was steaming hot.  I don't know if I've ever had hot stuffing.  By the time Thanksgiving dinner is ready, everyone herded to their seats, prayers offered and food passed around, everything (except the gravy, bless the boat) tends to be warm at best.  If we can ever find Bob Evans stuffing in a store, that will be the next step up for this technique.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Letter Opener

By now this letter opener, which was a marketing tool created by the QBA group (i.e. the really smart math types) within the Mead Information Technology department, is about 30 years old and continues to slice open letters as easily as ever.  The area code is a dead giveaway to its age, as 513 covered all southwest Ohio until 1996 when it changed to 937.  This is just one of the best handouts I've ever received as it cost pennies, serves a very useful purpose, and just begs to put front and center on your desk, where it served as a reminder that there is a group to help you out with your business challenges.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Toast Touchless Payment

When the check for dinner at Husk Restaurant in Charleston, SC was put on our table, it included a QR code that allowed us to pay using a smartphone.  We just scanned the code, filled in our credit card details, and were emailed a receipt, part of which is shown below.  While I'm not a fan of touchless just to be touchless, I did appreciate that we didn't have to wait for the server to come back to the table to retrieve a credit card, which can take a while, usually when we're in a hurry to leave.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Middleton Place

One of our stops in Charleston, SC was over at Middleton Place in West Ashley.  Middleton is a former rice plantation and an interesting tour of history.  The building pictured below was one of three built by Henry Middleton in the mid-1700s, the land being part of his wife's, Mary Williams, rather large dowry.  We learned about how rice was germinated, protected, and harvested with the help of flooding the rice mill ponds at different times of the growing cycle.  The gardens, while not at their height-of-season best, are still beautiful to stroll around, and numerous other buildings show what life was like hundreds of years ago.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Spiced-Up Burger

The talented chef I'm proud to call my wife made up this spicy variation on the everyday hamburger and it's now a staple on our menu.  She makes each patty with 4 ounces of ground chuck and 2 ounces of ground chorizo.  She buys 2 pounds of ground chuck and 1 pound of ground chorizo, a total of 48 ounces, which results in 8 patties.  What we don't use that day gets wrapped and frozen, making quick-and-easy meals when desired.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Utility Pump

Twice a year we drain and fill the hot tub, but this fall our previously-faithful utility pump began leaking oil into the water and made quite the mess to clean up.  Not only have we replaced the pump with an oil-free motor, but we've also upgraded the horsepower from 1/10 to 1/4, which upgrades the throughput from 390 to 2,220 gallons per hour, which should reduce the amount of time it takes to drain the hot tub from well over an hour to 15-20 minutes.  If I had known just that, I would have upgraded a long time ago.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

That Pig Ate My Bacon

Located on the top floor of The Restoration in downtown Charleston, SC is The Watch Rooftop.  My choice for a cocktail after a very long day of traveling was the "That Pig Ate My Bacon" pictured below, consisting of bacon-infused bourbon, apple cordial, maple syrup and lemon bitters, topped with a strip of candied bacon.  Candied bacon!  Where have you been?  Each bite was pure heaven!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Griffon

One of our stops on the Original Pub and Brewery Tour in Charleston, SC was The Griffon where I had a Freehouse Folly's Pride Blonde Ale.  The most striking feature of the place were the walls with dollar bills stapled to them, which we, of course, had to participate in.  While the walls were covered, our server informed us that the owner had taken down around $18,000 dollar bills which helped them pay their employees while they were in COVID lockdown.  Can't imagine what it looked like before that.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Fuel Credit

I was puzzled when we returned our Budget rental car last week and found an "On The Road Expenses" credit of $-0.77 which slightly reduced the final cost.  Scanning the detail of the invoice I found the explanation.  I returned the car with 18.4 gallons of gas in the tank, but the car had only 18.0 gallons when I picked it up, and Budget gave us a 77 cent credit, which works out to $1.78 a gallon.  I never knew that they could measure the amount of fuel in the tank that closely and it's nice to see they treat their customers well who really do return their rental with a full tank of gas.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Lawn Aeration

The latest project knocked off the 2020 list was a long-overdue lawn aeration.  Thought about renting a machine and doing it myself, but as I approach 65 years old this week, I've decided to be smarter and let the younger folk do the heavy lifting.  The timing was perfect as I had just finished mowing the lawn, a bit shorter than usual for the aeration, just as Weed Man pulled up to the house.  Timing is everything.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Summer Harvest Pizza

This was a couple months ago, but I have to talk about it before Fall got too far along.  This Summer Harvest pizza from Figlio restaurant in Kettering featured a spicy red sauce, chorizo sausage, corn, jalapenos and banana peppers, a hot and flavorful combination.  I like the choice of thin crust, roasted to perfection in their wood-fired oven.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Lincoln Highway

During a recent trip to Valparaiso, Indiana, I noticed several signs for a Lincoln Highway and wondered what that might be.  A little research discovered that the Lincoln Highway was part of an early 1900s effort, called the National Auto Trail system, to help drivers navigate cross-country before U.S. Routes and Interstates came to exist.  

The Lincoln Highway consisted of many different roads (which changed from time to time), all marked with the same signage, where you could start at Times Square in New Your City and travel west all the way to Lincoln Park in San Francisco along the route shown below, about 3,300 miles.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sophie and Gunner

Our neighbor's dogs have a routine when they want to play ball.  When Sophie, the black lab, retrieves a throw, she brings it over, puts her front paws on the top of the fence, chews the ball a few times and then drops it on my side of the fence.  But when Gunner, the golden lab, gets the throw, he brings it over and only when he's ready for another throw, will he drop the ball so Sophie can do her thing, as shown in the video below.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

AAA Towing Distance

While waiting for AAA to arrive to tow my Jeep, I used Google Maps to determine if I would end up paying for part of the bill.  Our AAA plan allows for free towing up to 5 miles and Google Maps showed me I was 3.5 miles away from East David Automotive, so I knew I was in good shape.  Might be the most unique way I've ever used Google Maps.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Dot's Supermarket

Dot's is our place to shop for meats.  A few months ago we bought ground chuck for hamburgers and the quality difference was very noticeable.  Last night's chicken was also from Dot's, and again, much better quality.  One of the nice things about retirement is you have the time to shop at multiple places and not an all-in-one megamarket.  The store on Patterson Road is closer for us, but there's also a store in downtown Bellbrook.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Squeeze That Corn

A different way to cook corn is to microwave it for about 3.5 to 4 minutes in the husk.  Instead of shucking it the normal way by pulling down from the silk end, you cut off 1 to 2 inches from the other end, and using a pair of well-insulated gloves, squeeze from the bottom and the cob will work itself out with 99% (or more) of the silk staying in the husk.

We wouldn't suggest this method for eating corn-on-the-cob, but it's great for cutting the kernels off the cob for soups, salads or other recipes.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

IOS 14 Default Browser

The just-released iOS 14 for iPhone/iPad allows several web browsers (instead of just Safari) to be set as the default, and for me, being able to select Google Chrome is great as all my bookmarks, history and settings are only available there.  

You just go to Settings, scroll down the left side until you find the web browser you want as the default and tap it.  That will bring up the Default Browser App selections shown on the right below.  Tap it to checkmark your default.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

No Cable Box Clock

I never expected that our new cable/DVR would not include a digital clock.  Every box in the past has had that and it helped to know when to switch channels to catch a football game, go to bed or leave to go out to dinner.  There are even settings in the cable box to select displaying the time even though that's not possible.

The solution was this small (~2.5" cube), black wooden clock shown below.  The odd thing about it was that it shipped with a USB power cord but no adapter to plug that into an outlet.  No big deal as I had at least three spare ones left over from prior tech purchases.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

New HVAC System

Our house had a gas furnace dating back to the late 1970s and a 19-year-old air conditioning system, but it was time to say goodbye.  Just installed were Lennox EL280 furnace and 13ACX air conditioning systems, with the furnace being a fraction of the size of the old one, as shown below.  William Brockman & Sons did the installation, very friendly and professional at every stage.  They even filled out and submitted the paperwork for a $100 DP&L rebate.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Metal Frame Readers

I had Lasik surgery about 23 years ago and traded in being able to read without glasses to perfect farsightedness, and I've loved that, particularly for driving, watching TV, and playing sports.  Reading glasses are part of my everyday life and like most people, I'm very particular on the style I like, in my case metal framed readers.  I've usually bought them at a physical store to know exactly what I'm getting, but decided recently to try buying online and I'm glad I did, three pairs for $13 and they are the best glasses I've ever bought.  Cheapest and best is a great combo.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Salsa In A Blender

This is the best salsa I've ever had and it's so easy to make.  Just load up your food processor with tomatoes, fresh cilantro, red onion, jalapeƱos, garlic, lime juice, and kosher salt and pulse it until you get to your desired consistency.  This recipe made enough for two pints of salsa, which we poured into Ball jars and refrigerated, after pulling out some chips for immediate consumption, of course.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Backyard Barnyard

We spotted this collection of imitation barnyard animals on our way home a few weeks ago and just had to turn around to take a picture.  Makes you wonder what the story behind this could be.  Maybe the owners moved from the country to the city and missed having animals.  Perhaps this lockdown (they are chained) is the result of the COVID lockdowns and these animals would normally be entertaining little kids at fairs and festivals.  Maybe it's their prized collection bought by scouring garage sales for the beginning of a unique nativity scene.  Or perhaps they are just cleverly disguised cameras keeping an eye on the neighborhood.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Farberware EdgeKeeper Knives

Only time will tell if the self-sharpening technology inside the sheaths will actually perform as advertised, but they are decent knives and only $15 total for this 6-inch and 4.5-inch lengths.  Each time you pull the blade out or put it back in, you hear a little grinding noise, just like a sharpening stone makes.  Worth a try.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Recipe Cards

I'm creating recipe cards for one of my retirement projects and decided I wanted to print them out on sturdy card stock.  I found these thick, 4"x6", blank index cards that work perfectly in my inkjet printer, although they occasionally get stuck in my laser printer.  The real trick is taking a recipe and shortening up the verbiage to fit with the larger font I like to use, which avoids needing to put glasses on while I'm cooking.