Sunday, February 27, 2022

Time for spring fever to really set in

 The weather is lovely today, and it's supposed to be springlike most of the week.  

I've already announced to Cliff there will be no more single-digit temperatures until next winter; I hope I'm right with my forecast.  As I look at the coming week, it seems like an opportunity to start gardening.  Maybe I'm only dreaming, but if so, don't burst my bubble, please.  I'm going to find out whether some of the stores have garden seeds and buy some radish seeds.  Maybe some spinach seeds, too, and beets and carrots.  

If my knees cooperate, I intend to take Gabe to the woods on several walks, and I'll probably be barefoot for that.  Oh, the plans I have for this week!

Our granddaughter Amber and her mom came visiting, so I switched dinner plans quickly.  I asked Amber if I should make her some pancakes, and she enthusiastically said yes.  I put the leftover chili in the refrigerator and made sausage and pancakes.  Cliff and I will have chili tomorrow.  It's nice to have grown-up grandchildren who come and visit us regularly, and I love to cook for them.  Her mom, my ex-daughter-in-law, drives a school bus for special-needs children, and she always has interesting stories about the happenings of a school bus driver.  I was glad she came along this time.

I wish all my friends a lovely week, and hope you enjoy yourselves as much as I intend to. 

Oh, by the way:  I saw so many people talking about Wordle that I decided to try it.  It is rather fun, and there's no way I can get addicted and end up wasting a whole day on it (like Farmville and Words with Friends), because you only get to play one word each day.  

Sunday Stealing

 I say,......and you think... 

    Casino ::  Smoky
    Bone ::   Boney fingers
    Painting ::  a sloppy job if I'm doing it
    Shocked ::  at the way the world is
    Quieter ::   nice
    Feed ::     Jersey cows
    Song ::     beautiful
    Glass ::    fragile
    Boat ::      I want a pontoon boat
    Junk ::      One man's junk is another man's treasure 
    Sheet ::     flannel in winter
    Knit ::       baby clothes
    Gift ::        surprise
    Small ::     snowflake

Feel free to play, and go to the Sunday Stealing blog to see what others' answers were. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Hallelujah, I'm a Bum

I'm not proud of my singing voice or my guitar playing, but I have no shame, so I'm doing this anyway.  I've had trouble coming up with stuff for my blog lately and decided to grant a request.

One of my Arkansas blog friends wanted to hear me sing "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum".  I first thought I'd just sing it acapella, but then I noticed she specifically mentioned the guitar.  I probably learned the tune in my mother's womb, since my family went to church three times a week: because it's the tune of an old hymn, Revive Us Again.  My mom was the first one who introduced me to the words of Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, too; but later I recall singing it in grade school at some point.  I thought it was one of the funniest songs I had ever heard at the time.

Harry McClintock, whose nickname was Haywire Mac, is credited with writing the lyrics to the song around 1897, although some say he wasn't the one who came up with it.  However, the song fit McClintock to a T, because he could frequently be found bumming around the country. It became a favorite of the hobos and was frequently sung in hobo camps, or “jungles,” as they were sometimes called.  Mac later fought in the Spanish-American War,  where he taught many of his fellow soldiers to sing Hallelujah, I’m a Bum.

Many verses were added by other people through the years; all you have to do is rhyme two lines, then sing the chorus again, so it doesn't take Shakespeare to figure out some rhyming words.  Oh, and only two guitar chords are needed to accompany it.

However, it may have been written by a Kansas City hobo known only as "One-Finger Ellis," who scribbled it on the wall of his prison cell in 1897.  This is only a sample of all the verses to this song.

Monday, February 21, 2022

broccoli soup today

As far as I know, my mother never cooked broccoli.  Perhaps she didn't care for it.  Growing up, I had never heard of broccoli anyway.  Maybe Mother did plant it at some point and it turned out for her the same way it did for me, although I doubt that.  I have never had a success with broccoli except for one time years ago, and it wasn't such a success when I saw green cabbage worms all over those plants.  Part of the problem was that those worms are the same color as broccoli, so you didn't always see them... especially when they burrowed deep amongst the florets, hiding.  Oh, but if you cook those heads of broccoli for the freezer you will find every worm you missed:  Cooked cabbage worms turn white after they're cooked; that's when you find them.

Later on, I tried to grow broccoli, but there would only be a tiny little floret or two on the big stem.  

Broccoli isn't that high-priced anyway, so I buy it regularly, which suits me better than finding fat, white, cooked worms in my food.

I have broccoli on my mind because I spent the last hour making one of the best soups I've ever tasted:  Broccoli Cheese Soup.  I'm making it from this particular recipe because it's better than other recipes for broccoli soup I've tried.  The lady who put the recipe on her website said it's "better than Panera", although I don't think I've ever been to Panera.  I was SO anxious to have some; it's already done, and I have at least an hour-and-a-half to wait for dinner.  I'm not sure I can be in the same house with it without sampling some.  

In fact, I'll be right back; a little sample can't hurt anything.

Delicious!  I only had about half a cup of it, and have room for a lot more than that at dinner.  Here's the recipe, from Avery Cooks' blog:

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat)

This is the best broccoli cheese soup. Not only that, it’s some of the best soup I’ve ever tasted, period. If you like Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup, this blows the pants off it. It’s an easy soup to make and is ready in 1 hour. I kept the soup vegetarian by using low-sodium vegetable stock rather than chicken stock, and made it healthier by using fat-free half-and-half. I love broccoli and used plenty because I prefer big chunks of broccoli in every bite but you can use less. I also used some stalks to make use of the entire head and not waste any, but you can use florets only if preferred. There’s a few optional spices like smoked paprika, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper. They’re not mandatory if you don’t keep them on hand, but they do add extra depth of flavor. Use a high-quality cheddar cheese that you grate yourself. Read the recipe at least twice before beginning. You’ll be rewarded with the best, creamiest, richest, and most amazing soup.


  • 1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small or medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (chicken stock may be substituted)
  • 2 cups half-and-half*
  • 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces + 1 cups stems, optional (I used 3 cups florets and 1 cup stems
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into very thin rounds, about 1/16th-inch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, optional and to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, optional and to taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste (doesn’t make soup spicy and serves to enhance flavor)
  • 8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing


  1. In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté   over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
  2. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom pot add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. You are making a roux and it’s very important the mixture is thick or soup will never thicken properly later.
  4. Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly.
  5. Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  6. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  7. While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
  8. Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. If you don’t have these seasonings on hand, it’s okay, but they do add subtle depth of flavor. Stir to combine.
  9. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  10. While soup simmers, grate the cheese. It’s important to use a high-quality cheese (not the cheapest thing you can find) because the flavor of the soup depends on it. Do not use pre-grated cheese in ziptop bags because that cheese is resistant to melting and won’t incorporate well. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
  11. Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave. I find the soup is less likely to ‘break’ or separate when reheated in the micro rather than on the stovetop, but do what you think is best. I don’t recommend freezing the soup because I feel like the cheese and half-and-half will not do well upon thawing and soup could break, but I haven’t actually tried freezing it.
Or you can find the recipe HERE.  I did not take her advice about buying quality cheese; I use what I have.  Inflation is giving me enough headaches without worrying about gourmet-quality food.  And I did use chicken broth, not vegetable broth.
We're having a bonus warm day, up into the mid-60's; then the bottom falls out and winter comes back.  People can say what they want about roller-coaster weather days making them sick, but I prefer having a warm spell after each cold spell.  It lets me get out in the sun and fresh air for awhile.  I'm itching to plant some things in the garden, and there are some seeds that would be fine to plant right now:  Lettuce, spinach, and radishes don't care it it snows on them.  I need to call a couple of places and see if they have their garden seeds in yet.
Well, I have some time to wait for dinner, so I think I'll find a book to read and get on the recumbent bike. 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Sunday Stealing

1) What one event from your lifetime would you change if you could, and why?  None, because everything that happened in my past brought me to the place I am now; I wouldn't change the way I got to where I am here, in this last chapter of my life.

2) If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and how old would your younger self be when they got it?  
Be kinder to your mother; around fourteen or fifteen.  Do you think your younger self would listen? I doubt it.

3) If you could have a conversation with the historical figure of your choosing, whom would you pick and why?  
Jesus.  I have SO many questions.                                                             

What would you talk about?  I just want answers to my questions!  Like, I don't think I'd enjoy mansions on streets of gold; could I just have a cabin in the woods by a body of water instead?  

4) What's a safety rule that's very important to you?  These days, I'd say wearing a mask when I go shopping or to a doctor's office.

5) What would you like to say to people in the future?  You're doomed; all earth's resources are being used up, people can't get along, wars and rumors of wars are all around us.

Fire and Ice 

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

6) What's your favorite dish to bring to a summer cookout?  Old Settler's Beans; people actually request them.  Also corn, if I have any corn from my garden in the freezer.

7) How much time have you spent outdoors this week?  Perhaps four hours, if you count my trips to the mailbox.  We've had a cold, snowy three or four days.

8) Where do you set your thermostat?  69 in winter, 76 in summer.

9) How did you learn to swim?  I never learned.

10) How do you avoid overheating?  I don't go out in the sun too long if the temperature is above 90.

11). What are you going to do this weekend?  Today I'll go to church.  That's about it!

12) What’s your favorite way to spend time?  When the weather is nice, I like to piddle around in the garden.  I enjoy a walk through the woods, too.  Confined to the house, I read, surf the Internet, cook, spend a half-hour on the recumbent bike, and sometimes watch television.

13) What’s the most useless thing you own that you would never get rid of?  Things that belonged to my grandmother, and letters and writings of my mother.  

14) Have you started planning your next vacation?  We don't plan vacations.  Cliff never cared to travel, and now he isn't enthusiastic about driving hundreds of miles in a car, since he's the only driver.  Sometimes we take a little road trip, but that's it.

15) Are you very active, or do you prefer to just relax in your free time or is it one and the same to you?  I'm a pro at relaxing these days.  Bring it on!

Sunday Stealing is a weekly meme you'll find HERE.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day

Cliff and I don't worry about gift-giving, even on most holidays.  And to me, one of the silliest holidays ever drummed up by anyone is Valentine's Day, unless we're talking about children young enough to enjoy getting a lot of nice heart-shaped cards and candies.  I used to hint for a box of chocolates, just because I like them so much; but now, you can buy a huge box of valentine candy and there's mostly air inside it... air and dividers that are supposed to make it look like there's a lot of candy in said box, and about five candies.  I told him the other day some nice, cheap(er) chocolate cherries would be great, if he wanted to get me anything.

So this morning when I got out of bed and came through the living room, what should I see but a heart-shaped box of Russell Stover candy!  Cliff usually takes me at my word and doesn't bother with Valentine's Day, and I must say, it was a nice surprise to me, waking up and seeing it on a chair.  When a gift comes out of the blue when I'm not expecting it, it's always prized.  He also got a pretty Valentine card with the usual sappy but sweet sentiments on it, then added some of his own... and the card wasn't just one of the nice, fifty-cent ones from Dollar General; it was made by Hallmark.  So I didn't chide him for buying a big heart-shaped box with only eight candies in it.  It was a surprise to me, and I love surprises!  If I had expected one, it wouldn't be as special.  I don't think anyone should have to buy a gift for someone just because they think they have to. 

Moving right along, most years on Valentine's Day, I go to Google trying to find a song I heard on the radio in the fifties:  "I'd Like to Trade My Heart for a Paper Valentine".  I've never found anyone else who has heard of the song, but I know it played several times on WHB, Kansas City's most popular music station back then.  I liked the song so well, I memorized it and still remember all of it.  I seemed to remember once recording myself singing it for my blog, but couldn't find it in a Google search, nor even on a search of the blog.  

Imagine my surprise when I went to Youtube and there I was at the top of the list, singing the song as I played with my dog, three years ago.  So if anyone else in the world recalls the sing from their childhood, they can at least listen to my pathetic video and know they didn't imagine the song.

A reader, Ed, found the song by the Mills Brothers!  The name of the song is simply "Paper Valentine", and I was typing the whole sentence "I'd Like to Trade My Heart For a Paper Valentine".  Thanks, Ed!  It was from 1954, when I was 10 years old.  My mom worked in Eagleville, and I had the job of doing the dishes before she came home.  While I washed dishes, I listened to WHB from Kansas City.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

I am SO ready for spring

Yesterday I found myself looking online at the offerings of Burpee Seed Company, while wondering when onion sets and seed potatoes will show up locally.  I don't buy seeds from Burpee because the postage is ridiculously high, and you have to order $75 worth of seeds before the postage isn't charged.  But it is still fun to look at the pictures; I can almost taste the tomatoes!

I can't complain about our weather:  It's been sunny and pleasant all week, but it sure is giving me spring fever.  We went shopping today, and I spent most of what was left of my monthly grocery allotment at Aldi.  I got grapes, strawberries, blueberries, avocados, plus four big mangoes as a treat for myself; Cliff will enjoy the blueberries in his cereal.  It's going to be awhile before those mangoes ripen, though.  When I'm at Aldi, I end up buying more produce than anything else.

I went in Oak Grove Walmart to get two items, then to a store a couple of blocks from Walmart that had ground beef in 1-pound packages for $2.77 a pound.  Last week I bought two 10-pound rolls of ground beef for $2.97 per pound, so I have enough for a while.  I was told those 10-pound rolls are from other countries, but today I looked at the ones I bought last week and found out those animals were born, raised, and harvested in the United States.  You can see that info on the upper left-hand corner of the picture I took, above the safe handling instructions in very tiny letters.   

Anyway.  Next Wednesday I'll start the rotation again with funds from Social Security, and we'll make the money allotted for groceries last for thirty days once again.  In spite of runaway inflation, so far I'm using the same amount for groceries as I did before; I'm just a lot more careful, and I'm considering carefully whether something I want is worth the cost.  I'm also staying away from Amazon, with all their temptations and bargains.  And so it goes.  

Monday, February 07, 2022

It's a good day for cake

My husband loves cake; he loves it more than pie, cookies, or ice cream.  The trouble is, most cakes make too much for two people, especially when the cook (me) prefers cookies, ice cream, and pie.  Some time ago, realizing I don't bake Cliff a cake often, I randomly typed "small cake recipe" into a Google search and struck gold.  I found an eight- or nine-inch-square cake, so it isn't so difficult to get it eaten while it's fresh, moist and flavorful.  It's the best made-from-scratch cake I've ever baked, and I can easily eat more than my half of it before it's gone.  We prefer vanilla icing on chocolate cake, although I did try the chocolate icing once and it, too, is good; it makes more icing than is needed, though.  

I want to share the link to give credit where credit is due, and also because one of these days I'm going to check out more of her recipes.  It's Bunny's Warm Oven.

Small Chocolate Cake

Small Chocolate Cake

This is a delicious small 9 inch chocolate cake. The cake is very moist and can be served with or without frosting!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword #chocolate cake, chocolate snack cake, nine inch chocolate snack cake, nine inch snack cake,
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 9


Cake Batter:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract


  • For The Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Place the water and butter in a medium bowl. Beat the ingredients together with an electric mixer until the butter is melted.
    Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg and vanilla into the ingredients in the bowl until well incorporated. Place the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another medium bowl, stir the ingredients to combine them. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat for 2 minutes.
    Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  • For The Frosting
  • Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan. Stir in the cocoa. Alternately add the powdered sugar and milk to the bowl, beating to a spreading consistency. Add a small amount of milk if necessary to achieve the spreading consistency you want. Stir in the vanilla. 

Now I am stumped, because starting at this point, all lines are double-spaced.  I know it was something I did, but it's easier to leave it alone rather than spend two hours trying to figure out how to change it.  

As for books we're reading around here, I just finished the latest John Grisham book, The Judges List.  I haven't "loved" all of Grisham's books, but this one was a page-turner and I finished it in three days.  I seldom spend large portions of my day reading, but I had to pull myself away from this one, anxious to see how it would end.

Cliff just finished "A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka", and assured me that I needed to read the book.  He promised me I'd love it.  "Lev Golinkin's memoir is the vivid, darkly comic, and poignant story of a young boy in the confusing and often chilling final decade of the Soviet Union. It's also the story of Lev Golinkin, the American man who finally confronts his buried past by returning to Austria and Eastern Europe to track down the strangers who made his escape possible . . . and say thank you:"

Lately I'm reading when I should be doing other things, but it's that time of year.  Reading a book is a cheap way to have a harmless adventure basking in the exploits of other people.

Friday, February 04, 2022

Good news

We don't have Covid; apparently we only have common colds.  Cliff's results came this morning, mine came back after noon.  Once again, we put ourselves out there among hordes of people and only came home with colds.  Cliff said, "See, we didn't need to go running over there to get tested!"  

Hey, at least we know we don't have it!

Because I've been having an irritating cough, I've been taking Nyquil the last two nights.  That stuff can make me sleep almost around the clock if I let it, so yes, I have slept a lot.  If I'm not coughing too much tonight, I'll go without it.  Last night I went to bed before 7:30 and didn't wake up for the day until 5:30 A.M.  Unbelievable!

I don't think I've had a cold for four or five years until this one.  Colds always seem to settle into my bronchial tubes, which makes me have a cough that won't quit for weeks.  Seems like after I'm over the original cold, I still have that tickling cough.  I was caught without my Mentholatum this time.  Never again!

That's really about all I have to say.  I'm going to try and get Cliff out early tomorrow to get the few groceries we need, before the Saturday shoppers get out in force.  Price Chopper has 80/20 ground beef for $2.99 a pound if you buy a 10 pound roll, and I may get two rolls, since we're about out of ground beef.  I'd like to go to Aldi for some fruit, but I don't want to go that far.

I will definitely keep on masking up when I'm out in public.  This Covid thing isn't going anywhere.

Thursday, February 03, 2022


Two or three months ago I checked Southwest Airlines' "Wanna get away" prices to Atlanta and found out Cliff and I could fly together to Atlanta for $300, round trip.  I told Cliff about it and asked him if he was ready to fly again; for that price, he said yes.  The downside of these cheap fares is that they are usually scheduled for the times when nobody is eager to visit a certain place.  I checked with our son to make sure the time would work for him, then booked the flight for the last weekend in January.  

Georgia is usually warmer than Missouri, but it turned out on that particular weekend, their temperatures turned out to be colder that we were experiencing here at home.  That wasn't a big deal, since about the only thing we do there is sit around and visit (and eat).  Jim, our son, would like for us to visit sometime when their back-yard pool is available.  However, judging by prices I've found so far, that isn't going to happen.

We had no problems on our flights either way, although Cliff was a nervous wreck in the airports.  The flights between Kansas City and Atlanta last less than two hours; on the way home, my husband slept most of the way.  Our granddaughter, Lyndsey, spent plenty of time at her parents' house with us, so we could become reacquainted with our great-granddaughter, Maelynn (May).  Her antics made us smile a lot.  

Sunday afternoon we watched the Chiefs' game, and that's all I'll say about that, except to say they are still my Chiefs!  

Cliff with May

We wandered around the yard for awhile Saturday, but as you can tell, it was cold.

Maylynn, standing on her grandpa's work-truck

I hate when all the faces are in the shadows.  

May had a hard time standing on the bed of the truck because Jim had sprayed the wrecker truckbed with WD-40 to make it slick enough to pull cars up onto it even if they aren't equipped with tires.

May asked to take my picture, so I handed her the camera.  That's her finger you see in the upper left-hand corner.

Jim's work truck

On our other trip to Georgia, I got a picture of Cliff with May, but no picture of her with me.  This time I remembered.

Monday morning we went home; Tuesday I woke up with a terribly sore throat; the next morning, Cliff had a sore throat too.  Now our throats are better but we are coughing.  Neither of us has a fever.  However, we went and got tested for Covid on Tuesday.  Wednesday Cliff slept on the couch all day, although sleeping a lot isn't unusual for him during winter.  We didn't take the quick test because I read a reliable article saying that one isn't as accurate.  There was quite a waiting line behind us at CVS, so it will likely be another day  or so before we get our results.  If we test positive, then our covid shots are working, because neither of us are really sick, we just have cold symptoms (and Cliff's headache).  If we are negative... the covid shots and masking protected us completely.  We shall see.

Either way, looks like we won't die today.   

After traveling twice in 16 months on airplanes, I told Cliff, "Hey, we are part of the 'Jet Set' now!"  (Check out that crazy hair on George, and the big wig on Tammy.)