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.  

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JGQR2SS



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.

https://www.lennox.com/products/heating-cooling/furnaces/el280

https://www.lennox.com/products/heating-cooling/air-conditioners/13acx

http://www.daytonheatingandcooling.com





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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07J1XNS92



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.

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-restaurant-salsa-in-a-blender-228222




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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DZYKNIQ



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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VW8RYCG



Monday, September 14, 2020

New TV Remote

Having to swap out a bad cable box/DVR and losing all current and future recordings is bad enough, so when I found out I was getting a brand new box, with a new remote, with a new layout, I was not happy ... at first.  The new remote (on the right) is a bit smaller and has only 34 buttons.  That compares to 63 buttons on the old remote (on the left), and yet everything I need is still available.  It's like an engineer put together the old one and a designer built the new.  So much easier to use.



Friday, September 11, 2020

White Cabbage And Carrots

If you haven't come across Bird Eye shreds, and you're looking a something-different side dish, check them out.  I really like the white cabbage and carrots pictured below, but there are also carrots and broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and potatoes and sweet potatoes with broccoli & cauliflower.  While you can microwave them, do your taste buds a favor and roast them in a skillet.

https://www.birdseye.com/meal-starters/shreds



Thursday, September 10, 2020

Porta-Pop

Truly, I put together our new Porta-Pop 10'x10' portable tent by myself in under 10 minutes, which includes a few one-time setup tasks.  Next time it will take two minutes at most.  The key is this lever (first picture) in the middle that you push up and takes a half-expanded frame and transforms it into the finished product (second picture).  At 5'9", I was just able to push it high enough to lock in place, avoiding a trip to get a step-stool.  Wasn't the first time I've wished to be 6'0", like my Dad.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SJYBMJ7







Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Oakes Quarry Park

The western neighbor of Pearl's Fen (see yesterday's post) is Oakes Quarry Park, which couldn't be more different.  Formerly a limestone quarry, it bought by the Oakes family in the 1990s and donated to the City of Fairborn in 2003.  You can meander its 190 diverse acres using a 2-mile hiking trail or 1-mile horseback trail.  If you're looking for something unique to explore, this is it.

http://www.beavercreekwetlands.org/maplocations-oakes.html






Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Pearl's Fen

Pearl's Fen, located just east of Fairborn, is the newest addition to our region's collection of parks to explore.  The boardwalk pictured below runs for about 300 yards and a few feet over the fen, packed full of wonderful sights and aromas.  Try walking very casually, and breathing only through your nose, to capture all there is to offer.  A separate dirt trail takes you through a dry portion of the fen, mostly shaded, and keep your ears open for various birds and insects as they call out.  Great job Greene County!

https://www.gcparkstrails.com/parks/pearls-fen 






Friday, September 4, 2020

Sesame Corn and Basil Saute

Summer corn won't be around much longer, so here's a recipe we tried recently that is sure to please.  My wife uses a Bundt pan to get the corn off the cob, sticking the corn in the hole in the middle and cutting downward where the kernels are caught in the bowl, saving the usual mess.  The toasted sesame seeds are the unique ingredient that makes this dish pop.


Thursday, September 3, 2020

Google Nest

When our new HVAC system is installed, hopefully in October, it will be paired with a new Google Nest Learning Thermostat.  While there are a number of nice features, the one that will save us on our energy bills and allow us to return to a properly comfortable home is Home/Away Assist, which uses location information from my smartphone to know when to drop or raise the temperature of the house.  It tells I'm far away, crank it back and when I'm traveling back home, crank it up.

https://store.google.com/us/category/connected_home



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Alexa Guard

It ticks me off when a really handy feature is introduced over a year ago and I just now find out about it.  Such is the case with Alexa Guard, a security feature that can notify you when your smoke/CO alarms go off or it hears the sound of glass breaking.  It can turn lights on and off at dusk, assuming you have compatible lights or smart plugs.  There's also an option that integrates it into a security system.  

After it's set up you can activate it by saying "Alexa, I'm leaving", deactivate it using "Alexa, I'm home" or use the Alexa app. 

https://www.amazon.com/b?&node=18021383011



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Geez Is Moving

Although the exact date isn't known yet, sometime in the next month or so Geez Restaurant will move from its current, somewhat secluded, location in Swiss Village Shopping Center on Far Hills Avenue just north of Whipp Road, a quarter-mile south to Washington Square Shopping Mall and into the former Ruby Tuesday building.  So if you find a closed sign, don't panic, you're two right turns (south on Far Hills, right into the parking lot) away from their new place and it's easy to spot this location from the street.



Monday, August 31, 2020

National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass

I'm now the proud owner of a National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass which provides entrance or access to myself and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at Federal operated recreation sites across the country.  If you're 62 years old or better and love the outdoors, this is a real bargain for $90 for the rest of your life.  My first visit, in the planning stage, will be Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC.

https://store.usgs.gov/senior-pass



Friday, August 28, 2020

Frankie Bones

Located at the northern end of Hilton Head Island, Frankie Bones is the perfect combination of delicious American-Italian food, yummy drinks, and great service.  The decor inside takes you back to the 1960s and feels like you're dining with the Rat Pack.  When you go to the same restaurant twice in one week, you know you have a winner.  Can't wait to go back!


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Chocolate Pudding Shots

Let's get the party started!  

These chocolate pudding shots are super easy to make.  Fold together all the ingredients below, spoon into plastic cups, close them with lids and freeze them in a gallon-size bag. 

1 small box of chocolate pudding mix
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream liquor
1/2 cup vodka 
1 container of extra creamy Cool Whip
About 3 dozen small plastic cups with lids



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Fancy QR Codes

I noticed this sign at a local restaurant and thought this couldn't be a QR (Quick Response) code as it didn't look much like the blocky, and frankly pretty ugly, version I've grown accustomed to seeing.  But when I scanned it with Google Lens on my Pixel 2 it worked just fine, taking me to the web site with the menu.  It took a bit of digging, but I found that there are a variety of ways and shapes that can be used to create these better-looking versions.  One website you can try this out is at the link below.

This technique is about a decade old and this is the first I've heard of it, and I've spent a fair amount of time investigating QR codes.  Sigh...

https://www.unitag.io/qrcode


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Cutting Board Meets Stovetop

We bought this extra-large wood cutting board to extend the limited counter space in our kitchen when we're not needing the gas stovetop, such as when we're throwing a party and guests are bringing already-prepared sides to share.  

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQN36XC


Monday, August 24, 2020

Checkout Helper

I bought four 5/16" x 2" carriage bolts at Lowes last week and instead of waiting at the cashier stand while they searched through their book to find the right part, I just took a picture of it and showed it to them.  They entered the item number and that was that, saving time for both of us.  Sometimes is a matter of remembering the simple things.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Pizza On The Grill

Who said pizza had to be round?  Or all the burners on a grill have to be lit?

The first step is making a nice and crispy crust.  Roll out the dough and grill it on the direct heat side, paying close attention to get nice grill marks without burning it (too much).  Remove the crust and let it cool for a few minutes, then spread it with a small can of tomato paste (or your favorite sauce) and sprinkle on garlic and onion powders and Italian seasoning.  Add a layer of freshly grated provolone cheese and top with pepperoni, bacon, and pepperoncini peppers.  Return the pizza to the grill and cook for 20 minutes on the indirect heat side.

The best thing about homemade pizza is you are in creative control, just as we were when we made up this concoction of flavors.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Squeegee

This isn't the cheapest squeegee you can buy, but the extra few bucks will get you the best performance of any we've tried.  This is the 12-inch model but they also come in 10-inch and 14-inch options.  It takes the job of cleaning our shower glass doors down to six swipes, saving at least half the time it previously took to accomplish this chore. 

A big SHOUT-OUT to Grace for this home improvement!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MJ5DM3X


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Hugh Sale

We spotted this sign on Wilmington Pike recently and just had to loop back to take a picture.  We don't know if the misspelling is intentional to attract attention, an accident the spell-checker didn't catch or maybe they really are selling people named "Hugh" or the person having the sale is "Hugh".  

We didn't go check to see if the sale was "Huge", we were content with having a chuckle.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Chain Link Gate

Now that our patio gate has been made shiny again, it's a bit appalling to see how bad it looked before.  The frame, poles, and chain link were covered with Rustoleum Chain Link Fence Paint, which is the consistency of water (i.e. very messy), and the latch, hinges, and tension bars were replaced with new hardware.  The paint only came in a gallon size, of which I have 95% of it left.  If you're in the mood to do some touch-up yourself, I will happily share the leftover paint and save you some bucks.

https://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/stops-rust/chain-link-fence-paint



Monday, August 17, 2020

AAA App

A car breakdown, particularly like the sudden and total loss of power I experienced recently, is never pleasant, but I have to give kudos to the AAA app for making the tow truck request simple and keeping me informed on when they would arrive.  Forget your AAA card when getting a discount, that's in the app also.  Need a TripTik Travel Plan, yep, that too.



Friday, August 14, 2020

Oven Shirred Eggs

Shirred is a fancy name for baked, and shirred eggs are done in a flat-bottomed dish at high heat in the oven.  Our friend Grace made us these Kilburnie Kitchen Oven Shirred Eggs, using the recipe at the link below, which layers eggs, heavy cream, grated Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheeses, and minced chervil (aka French parsley) on your choice of bread to make a super simple and simply delicious breakfast treat. And, of course, everything is better with bacon.




Thursday, August 13, 2020

Refurbishing Mister Sun

Mister Sun was getting ragged, its black paint peeling and showing patches of rust.  My wife did some sanding, then painted the whole ornament with a copper-colored, hammered spray paint from Rustoleum.  That gives it a look like hammered metal when it's dried, and adds some extra texture and pizazz.  Chalk one more project complete from a most productive spring and summer.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Ice Maker Auger

My wife figured out in less than a minute that the broken pieces of plastic in her water glass came from a broken auger in the ice maker.  That's a very dangerous situation, and we urge everyone with an ice-dispenser-in-the-door refrigerator to check theirs regularly.  

A replacement ice bucket/auger runs $142 at Amazon, but a replacement auger itself was about $50.  I found a video at the link below that walked me through all the steps to disassemble the unit, then reassemble with the new auger.  I would have never figured out on my own.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Spectrum At The Greene

Needing to replace a continually-rebooting cable box and figuring I might need an appointment, I went to the Spectrum website and was surprised to find a store at The Greene that is closer than the one I've always used at the Dayton Mall, reducing my commute from 7 to 3 miles.  This store is only two months old and since so few people know about it, I didn't have to wait at all to get a new cable box.  It's located next to the Nordstrom Rack in the northwest corner of The Greene, not the easiest location to find.


Monday, August 10, 2020

Park-N-Go License Plate Reader

Park-N-Go outside the Dayton airport has upgraded its payment system, which now scans your license plate as you enter and then again as you exit.  You just insert your payment card and you're off.  They still provide a printed ticket when you enter in case the new system encounters problems with its license scanners, but our first use last week was flawless.  Nice to see my license plate is used for something other than annoying, out-of-state pay-by-mail tolls.




Friday, August 7, 2020

Dry-Rubbed Baked Chicken Wings

This recipe is pretty quick to assemble unless you have to make a trip to the grocery store to buy one or more of the 14 spices that make up the rub.  Just combine the spices, toss the wings to thoroughly cover then bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Lining the baking sheet with foil makes cleanup a snap.

https://www.thechunkychef.com/epic-dry-rubbed-baked-chicken-wings


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Alligator Sighting

Thanks to an awesome telephone lens, our friend Grace was able to get this picture of their neighborhood alligator from a very safe distance.  While humans are not recognized as prey, it's best not to take a chance with any animal that weighs several hundred pounds and can run, even if for only a short distance, at over 30 miles per hour.  As this pond is on a golf course, it's best to leave an errant tee shot alone and call it a lost ball.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Osprey Having Dinner

Our friend caught this osprey, utilizing a telephoto lens, munching down on dinner while perched on a pine tree branch.  This is probably a piece of fish, given the information provided at this Wikipedia link, but could be another bird or other prey.  This was taken on Hilton Head Island, which is home to over 200 species of birds.

A big shout out to Grace for this awesome photo!



Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Hilton Head Country Club

This gorgeous par 3, the 14th hole at Hilton Head Country Club, measures 160 yards from the blue tees, made visually difficult by having to carry most of the way over the marsh and its grasses (and Lord knows what kind of creatures).  The course, designed by Rees Jones, is a beautiful challenge featuring sweeping doglegs and water on most of its holes.  It's a decent bargain with green fees in the $60-$80 range, depending on time of year and time of day.



Monday, August 3, 2020

Rain Chains

With the appropriately sandy soil, these rain chains are a decorative way to enjoy a rainstorm.  Water is free to pour down at the end of the gutter, runs down the chain, gets refocused every 6-8 inches by the next cup, which directs the water back towards the middle and down to the next cup.  An example (not the same one) is included at the link below.



Friday, July 31, 2020

My Big Fat Greek Burgers

This recipe is a permanent addition to our burger rotation.  Make two thin turkey patties, top one with a combination of onion, spinach, feta cheese, dill and black pepper, then place the other patty on top and press the halves together.  Place the cooked burger on your favorite bun (we like brioche) and top with cucumber slices, romaine lettuce and a sauce made with yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic, dill, and salt and pepper, which gives it the greek flair.  A bit more work than just slapping a hamburger on the grill, but more than worth the effort.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/my-big-fat-greek-burgers-recipe-1957474







Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Long Ice Cube Sticks

Sometimes you just have to go for the glam.  These long ice cube sticks don't do anything regular cubes do, but they're a nice conversion starter before the booze kicks in.  You can make them with water, of course, but making them with orange juice or your favorite mixer will prevent your drink from getting diluted.  Long live summer!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LYLM8JJ


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Dayton NFL Field

The NFL funded this field, located at East Helena Street and Brennan Drive, just northeast of Kettering Field.  It would have been located at Triangle Park, site of the first NFL game, but a group found an “abnormality” and decided it might be an Indian burial ground. 

Triangle Park is located at the north point of the intersection of the Great Miami River and the Stillwater River, a location very prone to flooding, particularly before the construction of Englewood and Taylorsville dams in the years following the 1913 flood.  You couldn't pick a worse place for a burial ground, and I sincerely doubt they were dumb enough to do so.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Bose Portable Home Speaker

Here's the latest addition to our smart speaker collection, a Bose Portable Home Speaker.  We wanted a wireless speaker with enough power to fill the backyard with music and this fits both needs.  Even better, it comes with your choice of either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.  It's not cheap, coming in at $300, but the sound quality and features are worth the price.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/bose-portable-home-speaker-with-built-in-wifi-bluetooth-google-assistant-and-alexa-voice-control-triple-black/6370597.p?skuId=6370597


Friday, July 24, 2020

Classic Chicken Salad

The key to this deliciously chunky chicken salad is using packaged Costco rotisserie chicken.  The rest of the recipe is pretty standard fare, but we highly recommend adding the optional dill and take it easy on the seasoned salt, starting with half the suggested amount and adding more to your taste.

https://www.spendwithpennies.com/classic-chicken-salad-recipe


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Anywhere On Earth

"Anywhere on Earth" (aka "AoE") is a phrase given to the last place a given date can exist on earth and is located on the direct opposite side of the earth from Greenwich, England, the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), now called Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).  The closest lands that are just east of this International Date Line are Howland Island and Baker Island.  So if you need to turn in that assignment by the end of the day, you can literally make the deadline by submitting it from one of these uninhabited islands.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anywhere_on_Earth


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Crossbar Critters

It seems like every time I visit the Montgomery County "dump" there is a new 1"x4" board installed in the gate.  They even dangle stuffed animals to the crossbar in an attempt to make it more visible and they move all around as the gate is raised and lowered to attract attention. 

But sometimes you just can't fix stupid.

http://www.mcswd.org


Friday, July 17, 2020

Casserole Donation

St. Vincent de Paul aids the homeless and impoverished in the Greater Dayton area by providing emergency shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing, food, clothing and household items, and guidance to leading a self-sustaining life.  We learned about this through our local church and recently contributed to their casserole donation program.  More details are at the link below, including eight suggested recipes, with the one my wife cooked up detailed here.

https://stvincentdayton.org/casserole-donation-program

Sausage Potato Casserole

Ingredients

2-3 lbs mild Italian sausage (browned, drained, and chopped)
2 lb bag frozen hash browns (partially thawed)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 soup can of milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped onion

Topping:
1/4 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes

Preparation

Grease casserole pan. Mix all ingredients except topping. Pour into prepared pan. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cover tightly with foil and freeze the casserole. Deliver the casserole frozen and covered with foil.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Stackable Tomato Cage - Part 4

For the time being, I opted for adding the mesh screen to the top cage and running the tomato stake through it, which gives it a bit more wind resistance.  We'll see how the rest of the growing season goes, but for now, this plant is 100% protected from squirrels and the cage is large enough to allow the plant to thrive.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Stackable Tomato Cage - Part 3

A second, identical cage was built and placed on top the first.  The top is still open at this point as it was still undecided if a third cube would be needed, possibly a half-height version placed in the middle.  Another option here would be to attach the two cages using a pair of metal hinges on one side, allowing the top cage to be rotated down to access the plant, but that would require the tomato stake to be shortened.