Friday, February 3, 2023

Sundry Intelligence


Euryops Chrysanthemoides
from Gail's yard

"Based on what the rodent said, we're going to have another six weeks of winter." That's a direct quote from Gary in a text message to my step-son who lives in The Frozen Far North. However, this illustration, from a local TV station, is a more accurate forecast for our area:

from WFTV

In spite of the palm tree shadow, today I'm seeing dark clouds outside of the lanai windows, a fairly strong wind, and wet mud leftover from this morning's fast-moving rain storm. The temperature here at 3:20pm is 54 degrees. Brrrr! (grin) 

Gary headed out after breakfast to get a haircut, wanting to be first in line and ahead of the road traffic. I got dressed and styled my hair, planning to be indoors all day due to the stormy weather forecast, and my thoughts were preoccupied with this blog post.

He did beat the traffic and in no time at all was back home. The rain had not begun yet, so he issued an invitation to ride our bikes. Uh. Well, okay. I changed my clothes into something from my bike wardrobe (with an update on that to come), donned the hard helmet, and in minutes we were sailing down the dry pavement with black clouds in the distance. Gary called out the rule, at the sign of even one raindrop, we'd head for home. 

With only a couple of changes in our usual weekday bike route, we pedaled against a pretty strong headwind, stopping once to slug down some water and then continue on. Just a few yards from the foot of our driveway the first raindrop splashed on my wrist, then another and by the time we were pushing our bikes into the garage, the clouds really let loose and we got pretty wet. 

So much for the weather update. I'm wondering what my readers think of my title for today's post, "Sundry Intelligence." Am I going to comment on the secret government documents being found in forbidden locations? No. Don't get your hopes up. You know I stay away from politics on my blog.

"Spin City"

No, not politics. My week was pretty ordinary which means as a writer I need to make the plain interesting, if possible. I'll share some pithy insights from simple activities that might be helpful to somebody. 

how to pay

This man I go on about in every blog post brings me a chocolate-covered peanut (thanks to M&M's) and a mug of hot coffee every morning before I ever get out of bed. (sigh) "Romantic" is his middle name... Yes, I know, this may be TMI (too much information) for some... Anyway, one day this week I spilled a fair amount of the coffee on our quilted comforter, which then required a trip to the laundromat. 

The large tubs of our washing machine and drier are probably still not big enough for our California King bedspread, so the laundromat it would be. I don't have to go there often; I wondered how much cash, and in what form, I should take with me. Checking on-line before I left the house, I learned the laundromats these days take coins and credit cards. I opted to stop at the bank en route to get a roll of quarters (1 roll = $10 BTW). 


One load cost me $5.50 in quarters. Be careful that the laundry and the money are for the same machine. It would be all too easy to insert money into the upper machine after tucking the laundry into the lower one.

the clean comforter

Drying took 24 minutes (two twelve minute cycles at 50 cents per cycle). When it was all done, the entire adventure took me less than 2 hours from home. I think the 100 percent cotton comforter shrunk just a little in the process, but that's to be expected and it still fits fine over the mattress.

So now those questions have been answered for anyone who might have wondered about the cost of using the laundromat.

making soup in the 4-quart Instant Pot

One of us here is allergic to something. There's been a lot of nose-blowing. One night was spent in the recliner so as to not disturb his sleeping beauty. (thanks, Honey!) 

how I cook from scratch

I decided a hot steamy bowl of chicken noodle soup might help, so out came the Instant Pot. No, I did not make it entirely from scratch. In the metal bowl I combined a carton (32 ounces) of Swanson's Chicken Broth, 1 envelope of Lipton's Noodle Soup with Real Chicken Broth (the more broth the better flavor), and a large can of chicken breast, undrained (again, more flavor). I had meant to include some frozen green peas but forgot until I'd started the Instant Pot, so they did not get used.

All that was put into the Instant Pot (mine is the 4-quart size. I sold my 6-quart pot because this smaller one is more useful for just the two of us). After securing the lid, I hit the Pressure Cook button and then the Soup button and walked away. While the actual cooking of the soup is fast in an Instant Pot, it does take some time for the pressure to build  up. That varies, depending on the contents in the pot. Altogether it took somewhere around 30 minutes to cook the soup from securing the lid to venting the steam.

As an added bit of "sundry intelligence" I will say for the uninitiated that care must be taken as to where you set the pot so that later, when the steam is released via the vent,  you don't steam-cook a cabinet or a hanging light fixture. And whatever you do, don't lean your face over the top of it! Just a word to the wise.

using the cast iron wedge pan

The soup was NOT an instant cure-all for the allergies, but plenty of appreciation was expressed, and especially because I also baked a pan of yellow cornbread. 

Now I realize that white cornbread is more popular in the deep South, but my mother raised me on sweet yellow cornbread and in my opinion, that's the only kind worth baking. A few years ago I bought a cast iron wedge pan, which I love. It makes the best cornbread, scones, and brownies because the individual wedges come out with crusty edges that are so pleasing to the palette. Also, a good spray of combined cooking oil and flour (Baker's Joy) makes the wedges pop out of the pan so easily. I just follow the recipe on the round box of yellow corn meal. 

By the way, we I first moved to Jacksonville in 2017, I could not find yellow corn meal. A couple of times now, Sister has sent me a box of yellow cornmeal from The Frozen North, which I greatly appreciate. Now I am finding the yellow version in the stores here, but I don't think I can ever have too much of it on hand. 

chocolate chip cookies cooling

Loraine recently emailed to say she misses my blogging habits of previous years when I posted more recipes. I just don't cook from scratch as much as I used to, but this week I did go one step further in spoiling my man with the allergies by baking chocolate chip cookies from my Betty Crocker cookbook. I like to add the additional 1/2 cup of flour that she recommends and every time, I mean EVERY time, these gems turn out softly rounded and soooo good! 

Spanish Moss hanging from an Oak tree

Turning now to a little "sundry intelligence" in the area of flora and fauna, first let me share a snapshot I took yesterday of an abundance of Spanish Moss draped from the branches of an Oak tree. Here in the deep South (or sub-tropics, take your pick), we see this all the time. One reader commented a few years ago that she thinks this is a creepy sight. It looks kinda "Halloweeny" and yes, it does look like something from a horror flick. But for the rest of the year, when the moss is blowing in the wind, it's a lovely sight and I enjoy it a lot.

At the start of this blog post, I shared a close-up shot I took of neighbor Gail's pretty yellow flowers. Blogging buddy, Pam of Closed Doors, Open Windows taught me how to discover the name of a flower when I take its picture with my iPhone. See if you can do this on your phone: Per the photo above, under the snapshot, tap the blue "i" at the bottom. 

Then tap "Look Up - Plant."

Voila! You've got results! Only one time did I get a result that I questioned and that was most likely because the snapshot I took wasn't very clear.

bike shirts

My last piece of absolutely indispensable knowledge and counsel for you is to open yourself up to the possibilities of where you can find the perfect clothing. I've written recently about my search for really bright tops to wear with my black spandex bicycle pants. The shirts I had in mind have been surprisingly hard to find, and particularly in a size smaller than 3XXX LARGE. 

Well. No more a problem. Yesterday we took a long drive and when we stopped at a gas station to use the facilities, I spied these shirts (a lot of them!!) on a rack just inside the door. Not only were they the colors I wanted, but they had my size! Yay! I impulsively bought both colors and wore the orange one on this morning's bike ride. 

Now Gary teases me that I buy my clothes at a gas station. I'm okay with it. When you find what you need, grab it!

Because the Lord is my shepherd,

I have everything that I need!

Psalm 23:1

Until next time, grace and peace.



  1. Oh, I love all this "Sundry Information" so much! I learned a few things I didn't how much to wash and dry a bedspread at a laundromat...and to be sure you know which coin thing to put your money in. That was tricky! The chicken soup recipe for the instapot was interesting. I've never tried to make chicken soup quite that way before...but I don't have an instapot, so I will probably continue to do things the old fashioned way...but your quick recipe idea is a good one when you need chicken soup in a hurry. I am having allergy issues as well this week, have lost my voice and have a scratchy throat and occasional cough, especially when laying down. I wanted soup today, but didn't get it. I really want some homemade beef vegetable soup, but need to go buy some stew beef to make it. I don't want ground beef. Your corn bread looks so good. I also prefer yellow cornbread, and usually just use Jiffy Corn Muffin mix to make it, and I also use an iron skillet in the oven. I don't have the divided kind like yours, but it still turns out good. Your bright colorful tops are really pretty, and hey! Who cares where you buy them if they are what you want and the money is right! Oh, those cookies look good too.... And thanks for the shout out about me and the little google lens thingy on your phone to look up plants, etc. I use that a lot for all kinds of things. I enjoyed your post and your happy spirit on this cold windy and somewhat rainy day, although the rain is gone for now. We need more of it actually. Have a great night and take care of that thoughtful guy who brings you coffee in bed, even if you do spill it and have to go to the laundromat! LOL. Blessings to you both. I hope Gary feels better soon. I am totally commiserating.

  2. P.S. In my previous comment I said "Sundry Information", when it should have said "Sundry Intelligence". That's what I get for trying to remember what your title was without looking at it again. LOL> I need some more "Sundry Intelligence" for sure!

  3. I love the way Gary spoils you! He's a good guy!
    Your laundromat looks nice and clean. I haven't been to one for some time, but the one in our area is not the nicest.
    I just got done cooking chicken in my instantpot, so I can throw a dinner together with it tomorrow. My hubby got me a piece of pvc elbow used for plumbing to vent the steam. You put it on the vent and just turn it to the direction you want. Very cheap and easy!

  4. Gas station clothes - how cute! I guess I should get an Instapot. We have an air fryer and really do enjoy it. Love that you and Gary are avid bike riders. Gerri and Ken are too. Wish y'all would send some of that sunshine here, we've had such cold and rainy weather. We're weary of it. Have a great weekend!

  5. Okay, first off I just want to say, I had no idea I needed a cast iron wedge pan! Until I saw yours I was perfectly content with my plain ol' cast iron skillet. Someone should hire you to advertise! Or at least as a consultant. Or maybe they should hire me as the consultant. My advice will be to get Barbara @ Sweet Tea and Sandals to use your product and snap pictures of her delicious looking food in it. I'm not kidding. I immediately went to Amazon to check these out. I'm going to sleep on it and see if the need passes, but wow - I'm so close to dropping 30 bucks for a pan 10 minutes ago I didn't even know existed.

    Secondly, isn't is crazy how much it costs to do laundry at a laundry mat? I think it's been about 5 years since I last needed to take some loads - and it was a holiday to boot and I could only find a laundry mat a 1/2 hour away that was opened. I was just stunned. Your bedspread is beautiful, though.

    And lastly, I rarely go inside to pay for gas, but maybe I'll start doing it just to see what surprising things they sell inside. I don't need bike shirts, but I've been looking for a spring jacket to replace my very dated one for years now and just haven't found one that I like that fits. Who knows where my perfect jacket might be hiding?

  6. Wow! The shirts were a great find. And you've had a busy week as usual. We were happy to stay inside for one day but getting out for a ride before it rained was a good idea too. We had more wind than rain but it was good for the grass and plants. Enjoy your weekend! Looks beautiful this morning!

  7. I am happy to say your humor has come back without a staff. I enjoyed your post.
    Who could not love Spanish moss?
    I think the cookie recipes from the old Betty Crocker cookbook are some of the best. I have even made them with my favorite gluten free flour and they are delicious. I actually think they served your kind of cornbread in the lunchroom in my elementary days. I did like it, although yes, I think most southern cooks choose the other. I don't know that I have met cornbread that I didn't like. With peas it is divine.
    Gas station clothes girl!

  8. I'm with you on grabbing items when you see them, Barb. Thank you for sharing the information and insight on the trip to the laundromat. I need to see if the laundromat in the next town has commercial washers. The local one does not and the comforter is too big. Otherwise, I will have to take it to the dry cleaners (they wash/dry) again. Your soup and cookies look so good. Have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Barb, I sure enjoyed your post today!! I don't have an Iphone so Siri can't help me identify plants. I just call them pretty. :) I love that you found new shirts in the gasoline station!! Your soup recipe sounds good! I gave my Instapot to my sister but just got a new crockpot. When I cook for me, I know I'm going to eat it for at least three days, which is okay. Sending love!!

  10. Yummy cookies…weather lovely here most of the time on the Gulf…we now think 68 is cool…love your upbeat blog…thanks for that.

  11. Love the 6 more weeks of sunshine. Sounds like some good eats and treats made it out of your kitchen. Yum. These days when you see something that is right you need to snatch it up even if it's in a gas station!

  12. I got a chuckle out of you buying the shirts at the gas station, Barbara! I had no idea gas stations even sold clothing--ha ha! But, those will be perfect for biking--they can't miss seeing you coming in those :)

    I don't cook as much from scratch these days either--I still bake now and then, but that's all. Your cookies look delicious. And I appreciate your update on laundromats. I haven't been to one in many, many years, but our comforter is badly in need of a good wash. I always enjoy "this and that" posts--thank you! And have another fun week ♥

  13. Hey Barb - just wanted to let you know that I posted a pic of that PVC elbow that I use on my Instantpot on my blog today, thought you might like to see it.