Thursday, March 31, 2022

Beef Marsala Stew

This is easily the best gravy in the world and a delicious stew.  It has earned a place on our "menu", our list of dishes we would serve at our restaurant (if we ever had a restaurant).

The slow cooker turns cubed-then-well-browned chuck roast into tender bites.  Red Marsala wine, cipollini (chip-oh-LEE-nee) onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, thyme, and tomato paste are among the ingredients that turn this into a masterpiece of flavor.

Using a pressure cooker is a much quicker alternative, but having this aroma waft through the house for an entire afternoon is just wonderful.  

Chef Elaine deserves a gold medal!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Blackout Drapes

Our east-facing bedrooms are not the easiest place to sleep in, particularly on the long summer days when sunrise retreats to 6:00 am.  We complimented the wooden blinds with blackout drapes which will keep our guests in the dark (pun intended) and keep the house a bit cooler during those 90 degree summer days.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Turtle Wax Spray

The headlights on our Jeep get a foggy coating as shown in the top picture below.  After clearing that with a combination of baking soda and water, the coating starts coming back immediately.  It figured that something was needed to keep the plastic and air apart and the solution (pun intended) was to spray on some Turtle Wax wax and let it dry without any wiping.  The bottom picture shows a remarkable improvement. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Rotating Surface Cleaner

I can't wait to try this attachment.  I spend a good hour and a half pressure washing our patio every summer, meticulously moving the wand back and forth, inch by inch, row by row, and getting soaked in the process.  This device includes a pair of rotating jets that clean a path over a foot wide and the housing keeps the water from going everywhere.  The only part I'll have to do with a regular nozzle are the corners.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Stuffed Shells

Who says Fridays in Lent mean you have to eat boxed fish sticks or grilled cheese sandwiches?  Chef Elaine piped a mix of ricotta, Romano, parsley, basil, egg, and Parmesan into the half-cooked large shells, and her Sous Chef (aka me) arranged them seam down on a layer of sauce.  That gets topped with more sauce, mozzarella, and more Parmesan, then baked into the masterpiece shown in the bottom picture below.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Jackson Browne

A few days after we bought tickets to The Devon Allman Project at the Fraze on June 10th, the Rose Music Center announced that Jackson Browne was performing June 11th.  We scored some nice seats and will have a full-bore music weekend.  🙏   for the best weather of the summer those two days.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Devon Allman Project

We scored front row seats for this concert at the Fraze Pavillion, so that not only puts us close to the band but even better we won't have anyone standing in front of us or have to navigate between knees and seats to get to our chairs.  Devon Allman is the son of Gregg Allman of the iconic Allman Brothers Band.  If the music is anywhere near that caliber, we're in for a real good time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Sheltered Clematis

Late last fall we brought this Clematis plant into the garage and at the time it was just a bunch of brown sticks and leaves.  Over a month ago it began to turn green, develop leaves, and now buds.  It's had no water, the very limited light that gets into the garage, and nothing else.  Furthermore, it's way healthier than the three Clematis that are planted on the west side of the house.  Go figure.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Insert Special Characters

Every so often I need to include some funky character into a Google Doc and before this tip I would go searching for a keyboard combo or cut-and-paste from somewhere.  The easy way is to click on Insert ... Special Characters, as shown on the left below, to bring up a large selection of options.  You can even attempt to draw the character using your mouse and have Google try to figure it out.  For the emoji people, you'll find them here.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Henckels 1895 Collection 15-Piece Knife Block Set

It's a dangerous moment when you decide to replace an aging, dull, set of knives with new blades.  While it's true that dull knives hurt more people than sharp ones, it takes a little while to reorient oneself to the difference.  Since we like the Henckels pans we bought last month so much, and on the advice of a friend, getting the block-full of knives shown below was a no-brainer.

Big shout out to Karen B. for this sharp assist!

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Utility Poles

Along many of the bike trails in the area, which are mainly old railroad paths, you'll find abandoned poles like the one hidden in the trees below.  These types of poles were originally used to suspend telegraph wires, so there was a synergy between hauling people and freight to the same destinations that these electric messages needed to be delivered.  Poles would later deliver electricity, telephone service, and now cable/Internet, but they all started to deliver the tap-taps of Morse code.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette App

The last of my morning coffee-guzzling entertainment comes courtesy of the free (I love free) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's iPad app.  Just For Laughs has a nice selection of comics, Spot The Difference displays two, side-by-side pictures with ten slight differences to find, and Lexico (not pictured below) tests your ability to find words using a format of dominoes and scrabble.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022


Another of the morning games that I play while drinking coffee is Worldle.  Each day it gives the outline of a different country and you get six chances to guess the right one.  Each incorrect guess shows you the distance and direction to the correct answer.  In the example below, which I got on the second try (total luck), Switzerland was located 3,958 kilometers (about 2,459 miles) to the north, which put the country in question somewhere in northwest Africa.  I remembered Burkina Faso from looking at a Google Map a few weeks back and bingo.


Monday, March 14, 2022

Update on AutoSlash

A month ago I blogged on the free (still love free) AutoSlash service that finds deals and tracks your current rentals for better deals.  Back then I had saved almost $50 using AutoSlash and was happy with the savings.  The latest reduction trimmed my original $601.73 Tampa rental down to $397.26, a savings of $204.47 or 34%.  I'll keep you posted if we get an even better deal before we leave.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Cabbage And Sausage Foil Packets

My paternal grandmother Walburga (her friends called her Wally) would be proud of this sausage, cabbage, and potato recipe that is so German.  The homemade garlic butter is over-the-top delicious, but Chef Elaine (kudos!) used only one stick of butter instead of two and there was plenty to go around.  But while awesome, the next time she makes it plans to get a better balance by using:
  • More sausage
  • More cabbage
  • Fewer potatoes

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Dero Fixit

Last weekend's delightful weather led us to the Creekside Trail in Beavercreek where we ran across a couple of Dero "fixit" bike repair stations.  It has the essentials for bike repair including an air pump, flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers, and box and Allen wrenches.  The two handles at the top of the picture below allow you to suspend your bike for easier maintenance.   The QR code takes your smartphone to a comprehensive bike repair website.  Very cool!

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Ice Cube Method

Orchids don't like a lot of water and an easy way to get the right amount is to use one ice cube per plant three times per week.  The slowly-melting cube allows the roots to slowly take in water and prevents water from collecting in the bottom of the pot. 

Big shout out to Kim V. for this clever tip!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022


Perhaps rarer than a white peacock (yes, that's a real thing) is finding a comedy show on one of a major network that's worth watching.  We've become big fans of Ghosts which airs Thursdays on CBS at 9:00 pm.  Perhaps it's not surprising that this is an adaptation of a British series and it shows (pun intended) a delightful incorrectness.  The story centers on a couple, Samantha and Jay, that have removed themselves from the rat race and bought a country house to renovate and open a B&B, not realizing it's occupied by ghosts, some who died fairly recently and others hundreds or thousands of years ago.  A near-death experience allows the wife to see the ghosts and offers them access to what's happening in the real world.  

Monday, March 7, 2022

Wingmasters Field

Towards the back (north) end of Wegerzyn Metropark is Wingmasters Field, the home of Dayton Wingmasters Radio Controlled Aircraft Club.  I wasn't familiar with the "FPV" acronym shown in the picture below, but a quick search found it means"First Person View" and a second search told me that means the pilot is using an onboard camera and a spotter is required to help the pilot avoid obstacles they can't see from their vantage point.

Friday, March 4, 2022

You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta

I believe the "You Won't Be Single For Long" is just as much a reference to including a cup of vodka in this recipe as it is to the old saying "the fastest way to a man's heart through his stomach", which this pasta dish just might deliver.  

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Fuel Door

One area that is always overlooked by the car wash folks is the inside of the fuel door.  I don't know how all that dirt and grime in the before picture (top pic below) managed to get there, but after swearing for months (or maybe years) I would clean it, I finally got to it last week on a cold, windy day (why, because I'm stupid).  I did a kinda OK job (bottom pic), but between my hands freezing and too many edges available to cut a finger on, I let the sub-par job go until I can fire up the pressure washer and do it right.