Lets see….

Posted January 7, 2018 By Ruth

Christmas at work was typical big box Christmas.  I really don’t understand the fascination with glitter and fake snow on everything.  It gets EVERYWHERE.  I sure as hell don’t want to ever have to vacuum the house that has that sort of holiday decor.

Apparently the cold temps back in the fall were a warning.  We’ve been running at not quite record breaking cold temps since the day after Christmas.  The same day I woke up and discovered that our furnace wasn’t running.  The furnace problems turned out to be the result of water in the line (it was POURING rain the last time we got fuel), and was an easy fix.  The cold temps not so much.

The big storm that ran up the East Coast didn’t do much to us, a couple inches of snow.  But it sucked weather across the Great Lakes in its wake.  Areas not to far from me got upwards of a foot of snow and temperatures dipped too damn close to record breaking cold.  Yesterday, Saturday, it was -1(F) as the official temperature when I left the house for work, with a “feels like” temperature of -23(F) thanks to windchill.  For you Celcius folks that’s -17.7 and -30.5.  Its supposed to warm up this week, cross fingers!

I did take advantage of the cold temps to smoke some cheese.  Cheese has to be smoked at temperatures below 90(F) or you risk melting the cheese.  Temps below 80(F) are preferred.  This normally requires special equipment, but by propping the door of my electric smoker open a couple inches I was able to maintain ~40(F) and still get decent smoke in the body of the smoker.  The cheese has been vacuum packed and we’re slowly working our way through it.

I’ve been working on my garden planning for this year, and putting together an inside grow tent with proper lighting to get seedlings going in.  The garden is going to be mostly tomatoes and peppers this year.  Carrots, lettuce, and a couple tires of melons and cucumbers, and that’s pretty much going to be it.  Course, just as I got the garden plan set and seeds ordered BOTH seed companies I ordered from included a packet of free seeds in the orders.  Which is normal.  What’s not normal is that both free seed packets are for varieties of black tomatoes (our prefered type) listed as “great for sauce”.  Since sauce is the main point of me growing tomatoes I promptly had to re-work the garden plan to fit at least one tire’s space worth of each in the garden to try.

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Some music for your day

Posted December 25, 2017 By Ruth

Traditional

 

And not so much

 

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Dear 2017……

Posted December 21, 2017 By Ruth

You can just go to hell now, k?

Yesterday, Wednesday, Husband and I decided to treat ourselves.  While we’re not huge Star Wars fans, it is the sort of movie thats fun to watch on the big screen.  And we decided to travel a few towns over to the fancy theater with the recliner seating and dinner while you’re eating.  Tickets are a bit more expensive, but not excessively so, and food was reported to be decent.

I can report that the food is indeed decent, and not horribly priced.  And the recliners comfy.

But we only got to see about an hour of the movie.

Their popcorn machine caught fire.

Pretty sure they had it out long before the fire dept showed up (which, despite the grumbling from other movie goers, was actually pretty decent timing), but of course once the alarms go off everyone has to evacuate.

We got vouchers for a free movie at least.

*sigh*

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Baking Bread

Posted December 19, 2017 By Ruth

I prefer to make as much of the bread we eat as possible, but I tend to fail at that more than I like.  In the summer of course I don’t want to heat up the house, plus summer is our busy season so I’m often so tired from work that I don’t want to spend my spare time making bread.

I have a couple “go to” recipes that consistently produce a nice easy predictable bread, but sometimes I like to experiment.  Although I like the flavor of breads that require sitting overnight (or longer, such as sourdough) I don’t usually make them because they require me to plan ahead and I often don’t when it comes to bread making.  Our bread consumption varies a lot, some weeks we’ll eat two full sized loaves, others we’ll eat barely half a loaf.  Which makes it hard to predict when we’re going to need more bread.  It also means that I dislike making standard full sized loaves as they’ll sometimes go to waste.  I’ve played around with the “no knead keep it in the fridge for a week” recipes, and although they’re convenient, I’m not a huge fan of the bread they tend to produce.  I suppose if I really wanted I could really play with them to produce a bread I liked, but I haven’t wanted to put in the effort.

A couple weeks ago I was looking for something a bit different for bread, I had some left over potatoes and was leaning towards a potato bread, plus I’d managed to plan ahead for once and was considering one of my favorite over-night recipes.  Then I ran across THIS recipe.  Potatoes, overnight, perfect!

That recipe produces two almost picture perfect loaves of bread.  It’s also an extremely soft bread, which Husband likes.  The flavor is awesome.  I did not care for it, however, after freezing and thawing the 2nd loaf.  It was fine toasted, but the thawed bread had some texture issues.  However after removing the dough from the fridge I noticed that it was quite stiff, after removing enough dough for the first loaf I noticed that the remaining dough did not immediately sink.  Hmmm……

In the middle of all of this I’d also ordered for myself THIS bread pan (amazon affiliate link).  Just a bit wider than the usual “mini” loaf pan, but otherwise just about half the size of a normal loaf pan, I hoped it would fix my problem with having to stick to either “full sized loaves” or free-form loaf recipes.  Folks, this is my new favorite bread loaf pan.  The size is perfect, the slices are big enough to make a nice sized sandwich.  It’s lightweight, easy to clean and work with.  And best yet, it fits inside my Instant Pot, so I can use the “yogurt-low” setting to keep the dough warm for that 2nd rise.

I decided a trial was in order.  Note, all loaves were cooked in my new small loaf pan.  All dough was placed in the pan, and the pan set into my Instant Pot (1 cup of water in the bottom of the IP, then the IP trivit, then the pan of bread, cover the pot with saran wrap) to rise on the “yogurt-low” setting.  Unless otherwise noted they rose for 2hrs before cooking.

Monday Dec 11th I made up a batch of the overnight potato bread dough and stuck it in the fridge as per recipe instructions.

Dec 12th I made up a loaf following recipe instructions (it cooked for just about the same length of time as the full sized loaves) using 1/4 of the made up dough, resulting in a picture perfect loaf of bread.  I really should have gotten a picture it was that pretty.

Dec 13th, 24hrs after the recipe instructs you to do so, I made up a loaf, otherwise following the recipe instructions.  It was picture perfect again, no change.

Dec 15th, 72hrs after the recipe instructs you to do so, I made up a loaf, otherwise following the recipe instructions.  It rose just as nicely, but instead of puffing up big and tall it tended to sink down over the side of the pan a bit, the loaf has definite ears!  Otherwise just as tasty as the original, though the loaf may be a bit more dense and a hair less soft, not a bad thing.

Sunday Dec 17th we made french toast with our abundance of bread.  With bigger slices it might not have worked due to the softness of the bread, but with the small sized slices this bread made an absolutely awesome french toast bread.  WILL DO AGAIN.

Dec 18th, a full week after the recipe instructs you to do so, I  made up the 4th and final loaf from this batch of bread.  Remembering the ears from the last loaf I planned for this loaf to rise for less time, but the yeast was definitely getting tired by this point and it still ended up rising for the 2hrs before I thought it was far enough to go into the oven.  I did remember to get pictures of this one:

Not quite as high and pretty as the first ones, but still a pretty nice looking loaf of bread.  Texture was about like the 3rd loaf, a bit more dense and less soft than the original, but not in a bad way.

I’m calling success!

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Cat kibble feeder update

Posted December 3, 2017 By Ruth

Trouble was fine with a collar, so I bought THIS feeder.  Note, prices vary, shop around.  Also, be VERY careful ordering one of these things on Amazon.  As I browsed I saw some really blatant listings for either knock-offs or fake listings of identical feeders.  Like, 7 or 8 per page.

With the lid stood open Trouble would eat from it no problem.  As soon as I added the sensor tag to her collar and turned on the feeder she clearly decided it was EVIL and had to be killed (she repeatedly swatted the moving lid).  I could wait for her to adapt to it.  Or I could play around with it.

In THIS video the guy explains how he swapped the feeder controls so that it stands open all the time and CLOSES when the tag approaches.  This would allow me to put the tag on Shadow, and not care if the moving lid freaked him out.  Note, this modifications require a soldering iron and a screw driver, but are otherwise very simple to do.  This modification would also fix the issue mentioned in the reviews where the unit sometimes loses the tag while the cat is eating resulting in the lid trying to close on the cat.

The collar is now on Shadow, who decided I was torturing him by putting this THING on him, and Trouble is back to happily eating out of the feeder.

There’s one other issue mentioned in reviews.  Some tags don’t seem to close down tight enough, with the battery in them, to actually work properly.  The tag included in my set initially seemed to have this problem.  I fixed it by removing a plastic ring gasket from inside the tag.  I assume that the tag is now no longer water resistant, but since my cats are indoor cats I can live with that.

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Shoes for working retail (a review)

Posted November 26, 2017 By Ruth

I’ve griped before about trying to find shoes that fit me, that are comfortable, that have ankle support, and that can hold up to not only the pounding of retail, but specifically the pounding of working retail at Home Depot.

Home Depot is hell on shoes.  Those ugly commercial tiles that most stores have down do actually make a difference in how long my shoes last.  Shoes that last for months and months at most places barely last 3 months at HD.  That straight up concrete is hell on shoes, feet, and joints.

Doing some research and talking with long term HD employees a couple things stood out.  1: I needed at least two pairs of shoes to swap between, as in every  other day swap.  And 2: it might be worth checking out quality hiking shoes, several folks recommended them.

So off I went to a couple different local sporting goods stores.  The next problem was that I wanted high tops without actually getting BOOTS, and I have wide feet (for my foot length) due to having spent my life on my feet.

I ended up with a pair of Ahnu Montara boots, and a high topped set of Keen shoes (I forget which style).  The Keen’s came in wide (so I bought them in size 7), the Ahnu’s didn’t, but I only had to go up 1/2 size to get a decent fit (size 7.5).  I figured that the width on the Keens would be the key factor, but I was wrong.  The Keen’s weren’t bad shoes.  But the Ahnu’s not only broke in faster (with zero hot spots or blisters despite a longer footbed), but remained more comfortable for far longer than the Keens did.  And when the Keens finally died they died all at once and were hell to wear.  The Ahnu’s I could have gotten away with for a bit longer if I’d had to.  I got a solid year’s worth of comfortable wear out of the Ahnu’s, and a year of wear out of the Keens, though I’m hesitant to call it a solid year’s worth of comfortable.

The local Gander Mountain was closing back end of spring/beginning of summer, so I swung through there to see what they had left.  A set of Ahnu Montara’s in a different color caught my eye, but they only had them in size 8.  I tried them on and walked in circles for several minutes in them before deciding to buy them anyway.  A set of Red Wing Irish Setter boots caught my eye, and they had them in 7.5, and they fit and weren’t uncomfortable at first try, so I grabbed them too.

That was May, if I recall right.  Once again the Ahnu’s required essentially no break in period, the extra half size length of the foodbed has caused me no problems.  The Red Wings did, and have remained far less comfortable than the Ahnu’s all the way across the board.  The addition of cheap gel soles under my prescription insoles helped some, but not enough.

For various reasons I’ve basically not worn either pair for the last month except for a few hours here and there.  Black Friday I wore the Ahnu’s for an 8hr shift.  Saturday I wore the Red Wings for an 8hr shift.  Friday, my feet hurt a bit, but thats normal enough after that sort of day.  Saturday I came home with serious hotspots and not quite blisters, and seriously sore feet and ankles and knees.

Today I’m shopping for Ahnu Montara boots.  As I’d hoped several places (including the official website)  have them on very nice sale.  I intend to buy at least two pairs.  And hope and pray that the folks who own the brand never ever change them!  The Red Wings are being relegated to wear around the house work boots.

The Ahnu Montara’s are very lightweight in comparison to every other hiking shoe and boot I tried.  The soles held up very well to the abuse that is HD, though some hiking reviews say they don’t always for things like rock climbing.  I can’t speak for the original insoles as I replace them with my prescription ones.  The soles are soft, but not thin.  They do allow you to feel everything you step on, which is a bit weird till you get used to it.  On the other hand I have yet to slip on wet concrete in them, even in the year old ones!

I was not in any way paid for this review, all the shoes mentioned were bought with my own money.

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Black Friday Reminder

Posted November 24, 2017 By Ruth

Don’t forget that those sales clerks and cashiers are humans too.  And they’re not responsible for corporate’s policies or stocking strategies.  Screaming at them because you don’t like it won’t change a thing, except for their opinion of you.

I’m off to work where I can safely expect to deal with a minimum of 2 customer meltdowns over lack of advertised stock.

Drive safely everyone!

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Busy

Posted November 21, 2017 By Ruth

Been both busy and not busy.  And not had much I wanted to bother to type up.

We broke cold temp records for the area back at the beginning of Nov.  And it snowed Sunday night, and it actually stuck long enough for Apollo to enjoy it.  It’ll probably melt today, high is predicted to be 51.  I took pictures but haven’t remembered to get them off the camera.

Life keeps trying to beat us over the head, and we keep resisting.  I’d hoped to build a small greenhouse structure to replace the cheap plastic things I use, but that won’t be happening this winter after all.  Which means buying a new set of cheap plastic things, because I kept forgetting to put away the two from last summer and I’m pretty sure the sun has killed the plastic (though to be fair, one of them needed to be replaced anyway).

This will be Husband’s first holidays without his mother and he’s taking it about as expected.  As in, when his sister asked him if he had Thanksgiving plans he was struck speechless, cause no, Thanksgiving has always meant his mother cooked…..

We’ve been trying to switch the cats over to a mostly wet food diet.  While they’ll both eat wet food no problem Trouble tends to be a grazer, which doesn’t work so well with set meal times of wet food, and so she looks like losing weight again, which she really doesn’t need to do.  But if I try to put out kibble for her Shadow gobbles it up.  Now SHADOW needs to lose weight, but of course its not that simple.  I do have a “food tray” that requires them to pull out the kibble bits piece by piece to get them, but once Shadow figured that out it stopped slowing him down.  There are a few different food bowls that will only open to the animal wearing the sensor tag, but I’m not sure I can convince her to wear a collar, she’s never worn one before.  Plus they’re not especially cheap, and the cheapest one definitely has some issues, based on the reviews.  There’s a really nice looking one that’ll trigger off of the animal’s microchip, and getting her chipped would be simple enough, but it’s $140.  And I can’t quite convince myself to spend that much when I don’t know that she’d even use it.  Choices.

Christmas is in full swing at work.  Except for the live christmas trees.  Which apparently got lost or something.  Us and two other stores haven’t gotten their deliveries yet.  The truck carrying them  has completely disappeared.  Awesome huh?

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Speaking of fire extinguishers

Posted November 9, 2017 By Ruth

I forgot to post about this.

Over the summer, I was standing at the service desk trying to untangle a mass of spider wraps when a pair of customers walked in the front door “do you know that your cigarette butt holder thing is on fire??”  I’m thinking ok, so there’s a little smoke coming out the top, not a big deal, and walk outside to look.

Yah, it wasn’t a little smoke coming out the top.

Call a manager “hey, the cigarette butt holder outside the main entrance is on fire, like, I can see the flames on fire”.  “Can you toss a bottle of water on it?”  “Well, I can, but I’m pretty sure it’s way beyond that point……”

Walk back inside, grab the fire extinguisher right inside the door, and put out the fire.

It’s easy enough to figure out what happened.  Customers are constantly using it as a trash can, tossing receipts and other paper in it.  Then someone tossed in a lit butt.

By the time the customer alerted me to it the fire had not only melted the plastic, it was burning the melted plastic.

Lotsa fun…….

Massive Fire Extinguisher Recall

Posted November 2, 2017 By Ruth

This has made major news media, so hopefully it’ll be all over the place by tomorrow, but just in case, spread the word.

If you bought a Kidde brand fire extinguisher any time in the last 45 years you need to check and see if its part of this recall.  If you bought a fire extinguisher from Home Depot, Sears, Walmart, and any number of other big name stores, you are very likely to have a Kidde extinguisher, even if it doesn’t say Kidde as the brand, double check it.

Seriously.

CNN Article

Consumer Reports page

Consumer Project Safety Commission page

Kidde’s page for the recall

This recall includes Canada as well as the USA, though the large majority of the extinguishers were sold in the USA.  So the Canadians reading this need to check theirs too!