Hello, Dear Readers:
Well, my continued apologies for being so darn late. I was going to write, then postponed a couple of times, then. . .I got sick. And as I explained in my last blog post, I said goodbye to my third kitty cat in 3.5 years. Not feeling up to much of anything; sometimes the words don’t come.
I still can’t believe she’s buried in the cold ground.
Me and the GER are still grieving for Jezebel the step-kitty, and now it’s his turn to get sick. He was self-medicating with Nyquil, but he must be feeling better, because his last email discussed beer. . . .
Me, I haven’t been sleeping well, so I’ve missed some walking with Neighbor K. I’m still walking, but haven’t been at the same time as K. She’s been very nice about it. I’m going to try again tomorrow for the 4 am wake-up call.
Thanksgiving was. . .solitary. That was unexpected, but since the GER got sick, it was just me. Well. . .I made some gluten-free bread over the weekend for turkey sandwiches. The seven-inch gluten-free apple pie was mine, all three pieces (not at once.) The cranberry sauce is gone, but I need to find a different sweetener than Somersweet; let’s just say I was stuck at home for a while.
Last night I made a turkey sandwich from last week’s Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, just like the one I made last year:
I made this baby with some of the Just Mayo I have in the fridge. Obviously I don’t use it very often. (Those are flax seeds, which give the bread a bit more crunch.)
Also included for dinner was last year’s Green Bean Gremolata, plus some quinoa. I had intended to make some sweet potatoes, but that didn’t happen. It was OK.
Now onto our featured subject matters.
If you’re interested, here’s a nice article on Trader Joe’s. I actually have one of those big blue hot/cold bags on the left of that rack; it’s huge, works great, and it’s $6. A related company (somehow) is Aldi, which I’ve not written about much, because, quite frankly, I’m not a fan. A small produce section, a little meat, a few housewares, and about 80% of the floor space is dedicated to flour-based mixes and other processed foods. Looks like a convenience store food pantry to me, and every time I go in there, I wonder why. The first and second time, I had a coupon. The third and forth, I was looking for something or other and was disappointed. So, unless you buy lots of boxed biscuit and waffle mix, bagged snacks and other junk food, well, Aldi may not be for you. Your choice, of course.
Right before Halloween, I found this:
I didn’t buy them, but darn, that’s cute! If I had children around, you bet I’d be grabbing two of them.
Now, for those of you who have not been following this humble blog since its inception two years ago, my birthday was Sunday, October 26th. (Can you believe I’ve been food blogging for two years? Thanks, Akinnyi!) Now, last year it was a Saturday, and I also had a weekly paycheck. Not now, so I limited the spending. However. . . .
I started out (when I finally got up) with a Grand Slam from Denny’s:
They also asked for proof this time, which I was happy to provide. I was reading Backwoods Home magazine at the time, and there’s that cute kitty picture to the lower right. Awww. . . .
Like last year, I subbed a couple of ingredients to have it gluten free, so it cost a little, but I gave the waitress a bigger tip. She brought the cut fruit first, so I nibbled on that before the plate came.
Next up was Starbucks for my free coffee, which was downgraded to a Skinny Hazelnut Latte instead of the caloric Hazelnut Macchiato. I also headed to Sephora, which, if you’re registered, offers a little gift on your birthday; this year it was a nice shade of lipstick, which I may try to buy more of at some point, with some mascara. Last year they had something for men which I donated to the GER; he loved it.
I made some gluten-free pizza like I did last year, and instead of a cake, I made cupcakes. . .but they’re not my best work, so no pictures. I did, however, on Saturday venture into Nothing Bundt Cakes for one of their gluten-free offerings:
While there is promise in this bag, I can promise it’s nothing like the one from Frost Bake Shoppe in The Woodlands.Chocolate Chip Cookie is the only gluten-free they offer, but that’s OK. That was the first flavor I had when I went to Frost the first time–and with a lot more icing.
Nothing Bundt Cakes has stores popping up all over the place, so if you’re interested, I give it a big. . .meh. (There is actually one next door to Trader Joe’s in The Woodlands, across the street from Frost Bake Shoppe. No kidding.) Seriously, it wasn’t bad, it was just. . .OK. If you’re dying for something sweet and that’s the only place besides a convenience store, go for it. Otherwise, I’ll wait. I’m guessing it’s the replacement for the cupcake craze, but that hasn’t subsided yet.
Somewhere between Denny’s and Baybrook Mall, then home, I received another present: streptococcus bacteria. That’s right, I got strep throat on my birthday. I didn’t know about it until Tuesday, either. Monday I was REALLY tired and bowed out of a morning walk with Neighbor K, but figured I’d just stayed up too late or something. That’s all it is, right? I decided that Tuesday would not be the same–I walked with K, then headed to Starbucks for two fingers of regular in the big decaf. It worked! What a productive day! Then the GER had some fish, so I drove down to his place to get it, and on the way home, fatigue set in again. When I finally got in and shut my door, not long afterwards the “ring of fire” in the back of my throat happened, all at once.
Owwww. . .I was sick.
Makes sense, right? With a 24-48 hour incubation period, and I had full-blown strep. On Wednesday, I headed to the Redi-Clinic in Friendswood for a positive strep test and another round of amoxicillin, which I finished taking the following Friday. That evening, after starting the amoxicillin, my temp was running 101.2. Is this any way for a grown woman to get sick?
Count your blessings, ladies and gentlemen: My brother’s mother-in-law passed away a week before. The day he returned from up north, our uncle passed away suddenly after some medical difficulties at 74 (which isn’t really “old” anymore.) I stitched up some handmade things to send my aunt, (our mother’s sister), his widow, with a sympathy card, but haven’t heard back from her yet.
Later that night, I logged into Facebook to gripe about the strep, and one of my copywriter friends posted about one of her clients whose wife had a really bad kind of cancer and was given a week to live.
If that wasn’t bad enough. . .my walking partner, Neighbor K, was doing some housework and was standing on a broken pub-height chair. I think you can guess what came next. She’s going to be fine, but was injured enough to where she couldn’t get up and walk in the mornings with me, and was home from work for a few days.
K sent me a text message while in traffic asking me to take the Daft Pug out for a walk and feed him. No problem there, but when she told me more, I gave her the lecture about standing on a chair! Wal-Mart has stepladders for $15 (or they used to but they’re cheap.) Heck, she could have borrowed mine! But I make myself available if she needs something. We picked up her car from the urgent care clinic the next day.
I very quickly stopped griping about strep throat, OK? I’ll take the strep, thanks very much. Takes a week to get rid of for good, and I’m needed elsewhere.
Now, despite all that, my birthday was made a lot happier due to the actions of friend of the blog AK, who took me seriously when I posted this silly thing on my FB wall on September 29th:
The holidays are coming and I’ve been very, very good. Check with the HPD, they’ll vouch for me. No tickets, accidents, or assault charges again this year. 🙂
I would like to ask for the Suzy Homemaker washing machine and dishwasher, both of which are now on eBay. They work, just like they’re supposed to. I promise I will take good care of them and use them happily. I can wait on the stove, since there are frequently a number of them available.
But if someone gets them before you or your elves are able to bid and win, I’d be happy to have the Super Grill or the stand mixer in working condition. Please note that as happy as I would be with the Super Grill, I can’t cook a whole turkey with it.
Also, would you please bring Jezebel a nicer attitude. She’s getting pushy around dinnertime, especially when I’m eating. I can’t make a cup of coffee without her meowing in the kitchen.
Also, please let me know what gluten-free treat you’d like me to bake for you this year so I can leave whole bunch in a basket by the fireplace. The cat won’t touch them, honest. Let me know if they need to be sugar free as well. I can make some lovely gluten-free vegan raspberry scones that nobody ever turns down. I promise they won’t taste like baked flour balls, unlike other baked items you’ve had.
Thank you, Santa.
Along with it was the listing for this Suzy Homemaker washing machine, which I posted with the “letter.” I was just messing around. . . .
AK is an awfully nice person, and knows that I’ve had a difficult year. So, without telling me, she bought it and had it shipped to me, arriving a week before my birthday.
Here it is, no kidding, mine, all mine:
Good evening, Dear Readers:
I have a few minutes, so I thought I’d tell you a little more about the search for spare parts that’s been going on in my life. Specifically, something I neglected to mention in my last post.
See, I hate something that’s broken, doesn’t work, or is just sitting there collecting dust for the “one day” that I’ll get around to it. Since I’ve been home most of the time, I notice them, and in the last month or so, I’ve been fixing them, too. The last time I was home all the time, I figured out how to clean out the peephole in my door so that I could see out of it. The manual doorbell doesn’t ring anymore, but I can indeed see who’s there. Then I went to Neighbor R’s place and did the same for her, so now she can see outside too.
I do have a sewing machine that needs fixing, but I’ll get to that later. Ditto for the leaky bathtub faucet, which numerous YouTube videos are dedicated. I’m getting ahead of myself.
My Dad was a “fix-it guy,” and often me and my brothers were conscripted to be “helpers.” When I was about 7 or 8, I bragged to someone or other that my dad could fix the air conditioning and everything else; fortunately, he was not “volunteered” for anything from my commentary. We weren’t that much help, but eventually I started picking up a few things. I’m no flame-haired “Tim the Tool Man Taylor,” but from time to time I’ve learned to fix small things and didn’t have to call out for repair (from either the former landlord or a service company.) Mike Rowe, the “Dirty Jobs” guy, might even be a bit impressed. Neighbor K turned me on to looking it up on YouTube, since she’s fixed a few of her own things that way. Why didn’t I think of YouTube before?
So let me tell you how this all got started. . . .
Some time ago, my air conditioner started draining water inside. The new landlord couldn’t be bothered, and this went on for many months, nearly flooding the place at one point. I started putting towels in that space below the unit, and because the water stunk, this required the towels to be washed. That was fine until. . . .
The washer stopped spinning. That means that everything had to be wrung out by hand. This started a repetitive motion injury that my left elbow is still healing from, but it’s getting better. Laundry took a long time.
Months of stress later, I decided, stuff it, I’m going to fix the problems myself. I chanted to have them done by a certain time frame (2 weeks, I think) and hot dawg, it was! I did it!
First, the AC. After some research on YouTube, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a little wet-dry Shop Vac that worked perfectly and sucked all the gunk out of not only the drain pipe but the drip tray, which was also clogged. I poured a hot bleach/water mixture into the pipe, and then beyond the coils into the drip tray. That was over a month ago. . .how dry I am!!
At no time did the prior landlord ever suggest putting bleach and water down there twice a year. I would have been happy to take care of it, and it would have saved a lot of money and aggravation. But it’s done, and I hope to never have that happen again.
Then through some correspondence on our local Nextdoor.com, I not only got the name of a reliable and honest appliance guy, but also a YouTube video on how to replace the motor coupling in the washing machine. I did, but still ended up calling the guy, who showed me that I’d failed to reconnect the wire between the carburetor and the motor. Once he did that, I was back in business. He did charge me $40 for the call, but that was just fine–total cost was under $100. And I’m washing all my clothes happily again.
In my last post, I mentioned the replaced glass plate and rotating ring assembly in my 11 year old Sunbeam microwave that had long ago gone by the wayside. With the model number from the back, and a few online clicks (on the iPhone, no less) I had it in about 10 days. Sometimes I just look into the microwave and gaze at it. . .I’m so happy to see it looking and working perfectly normal again.
Next was finding the the replacement part for a discontinued but functional coffee grinder on eBay.
Additionally, when the former landlord installed a new dishwasher, some external plastic parts (like the handle across the top of the door) were badly cracked. Eventually they fell off, and I’m sure that when I move out of this place, the new landlord would call that “damage,” and charge me for it. Nope–I have the replacement part for that too, I just have to talk to the GER about how to un-install the dishwasher, or call my appliance guy again. I’ll get on YouTube and research it. I can’t cut the power to the whole place, then I can’t see what I’m doing!
Stuff like that can be found online at Easy Appliance Parts. A week later, they were here. Just haven’t replaced them yet.
So, I went to the Woodlands on Monday, and had to go back today (although I headed home after a bite at Starbucks.) When I go to Sur la Table, I like to buzz through and just look at stuff. New linens. Pure white dishes (Williams-Sonoma has their own line, too.) Spatulas of all kinds in huge crocks. And then there’s the coffee area, with Bodum French press pots and Bialetti stove-top espresso pots in different sizes and styles. This time, something caught my eye.
Now, I’ve bought replacement glass beakers for the Bodum pots that I have (especially the 2 cup, which I have broken twice), so I knew I could either get them there or order them online from Bodum (along with filter assembly parts as well.) But I never thought about Bialetti.
What makes Amy think of Bialetti, you might be thinking. . .take a look a this:
Where in the world would I get something like this? Where else?
While the GER currently looks for specific things to sell on eBay, at one time he and his late wife used to do all kinds of antique stuff. He found this at a work site and it was being thrown out. I think we’d been dating about six months when he gave it to me. I LOVED it, and still do, but this is why I did not use it:
It sat on a shelf with some pictures and other antique-y things, until I realized on Monday. . .I could get replacement parts!
Carpentry expert Norm Abrams wrote a book called Measure Twice, Cut Once. That’s also a catch phrase with carpenters (another thing my dad used to do; I sew like he used to do carpentry.) Hint: not just for carpenters, OK?
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any measurements, and just presumed that what I bought would fit. And it didn’t. . .this one turns out to be a 4-cup, not a 3-cup. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I found out when I started to remove the filter plate and pick out the dry-rotted rubber:
Eventually, I got all of it out and removed the old filter plate:
And that’s when I discovered that not only did the new filter plate not fit, the gaskets wouldn’t be coaxed into place, either. So I did what I frequently do in these situations: pulled out a Brillo and started cleaning the heck out of it.
For all the years I’ve had this pot, I never noticed that it had a name on it:
I’ve looked in a few place but haven’t found any history on the Flory Express, but I did find a similar model listed on eBay. For nearly $55. Not bad for an old Italian coffee pot, is it?
Someone else has one just like it for sale from Australia for $65. Makes me think about it. . .but it would be interesting to see who buys one of them. I didn’t see any bids on either one.
In my little neck of the woods, though, I got on the Bialetti website, took measurements as instructed, and I’ll soon have a new funnel basket and two packs of the gasket and filter plate. I hope they fit. If they do, I’ll be makin’ me some stove top Cafe Americano. . .if not, I give up. I’ll add it to the eBay fray.
Of course, I have my receipt from Sur la Table, and will return the gasket packs when I go back to see Dr. Davis in the next few weeks after all the labs come in. They may only take back the unopened pack, but if they offer a store credit, I’ll be getting a bottle of olive oil and maybe a spatula or something.
I’ve scrubbed the metal parts as best I can, going through two Brillo pads. The Bialetti name is barely visible on mine, but it’s there, and also has some inscriptions on the bottom. When the parts arrive I’ll be boiling water and vinegar on the inside, and may check out some other cleaning options. I found a few here, but so far, it’s still grungy looking on the inside; I may be stuck with that. I did try pouring boiling vinegar water in it earlier, but nothing happened. The outside is still a bit funky, too, but since HRH Queen Elizabeth isn’t coming for coffee, nor Martha Stewart, I think I’ll be OK with it. I plan to boil water in it once or twice before I actually attempt using it for real coffee.
You can find these neat little pots at the Bialetti website, Amazon.com, Cost Plus World Market, Williams-Sonoma, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and many other retailers.
You can also read more about the history of the Bialetti stovetop espresso pot and company here. Wikipedia also has an entry with a little more info.
So, if you’ve always wanted to try one of these, they’re not difficult or terribly expensive, and I’ve known quite a few devotees to the Bialetti.
Me, I just wanted to fix something, so I’ll let you know what happens when I get the parts. Maybe I’ll make the GER some decaf espresso and bowl him over. Sometimes it doesn’t take much.
The GER is taking me on a “foodie adventure” next week, so I’ll let you know how that goes, too.