Monthly Archives: March 2015

Let’s fix up a roadside table!

Yesterday I decided to take a bent metal pole to our community recycling area. Generally, stuff – cans, bottles, newspapers – are picked up but larger items usually aren’t. (If the recycling guys don’t want to take something, it gets tossed back out of your bin. If memory serves, they rejected the pole.)

It was cold but otherwise nice to go for a walk (carrying a pole). Once at the recycling area, I took a quick look around. People aren’t supposed to leave trash and other items but they do. I saw a couple hefty bags that had men’s shoes and decorative little boxes falling out. I do draw the scavenging line at rooting around in mystery hefty bags so I let that be. As I turned to go, I suddenly spied a sweet little table on the lot, tucked between two huge recycling containers. A find! It appeared to have a stone/marble top and wooden base. I quickly scooted over and soon saw why it had been abandoned. Not because it was recyclable – it wasn’t – but because the top had broken away from the bottom. It was an odd piece, with a nice-looking heavy top and real wood, yet the important piece that held the two together was some kind of press board crap which had simply split in two.
I gingerly carried the two pieces the mile back home; I really didn’t want the top to slip from my gloved hand and smash into bits on the sidewalk before I had a chance to repair it. Although clearly not high-end furniture, it looked okay but the style was a little conservative and darker than I prefer.

So I decided to paint the base. Initially, looking at what was on hand, I considered white but realized that would be too much of a contrast from the dark top. Instead I opted for two shades of green I had – very pleased I thought to combine two. The two sections easily unscrewed.

I put two coats on the legs and three on the post. Then I used the strongest glue I have to glue the broken press board piece and once again unite top and bottom.

Here it is all of a piece.
The measuring cup helps show size. It’s just a little thing; two feet tall, 11.5″ diameter.

There’s several ways I could use this little table, like next to a chair to hold a cup or glass, or as a plant stand, but I decided to start it out as a lamp stand, which I needed. The lamp – which somebody threw out I’ll have you know! With a pricey, working CFL bulb in it! – I found earlier in the winter, is 25″ tall and a perfect balance to the table. (Knowing me, I may swipe it away and have a plant on it by next week.)

Conceive this

Something in another post today got me to thinking, for the first time ever, of when I was conceived. I mentally – okay, by counting fingers – tracked back to when it must have taken place. I have no information. I am one of many children and I never heard any stories about conception. No dreamy-eyed tales of romantic nights resulting in “little bundles of joy” (haha! I can barely type that – no bundle of joy, so far as I know, was ever brought home from the hospital to our house).

Anyway, these weren’t the kinds of things discussed under our roof, i.e., conceptions. Not even jokes (in an otherwise “jokey” family) were made – the topic was off-limits. Considering the event of my conception now, I’d like to think it was at least kind of fun, but I doubt it. That said, I will never know.

Do you ever think about your conception? That moment your parents got it on to ultimately produce you? Has anyone ever told you anything about it? Would you want to know if you could?

Short Thought 116 (mail carriers)

A mail carrier told me he wears out a pair of shoes in 6 months. He said the standard issue shoes from the post office weren’t all that great so he buys his own. He showed me the soles of his shoes and they were indeed about worn through. I would have never thought of this; i.e. wearing out shoes delivering mail. How many miles must a carrier walk? A lot I guess! And then I thought about how I’ve never seen an overweight mail carrier – usually they are lean muscle.

Easy, Healthy, Baking Soda Bread (vegan too)

My bread recipe has evolved over time. I had a basic recipe and kind of adapted it based on what ingredients I had on hand, and later added new things to make it even healthier and more filling. (It’s incidentally vegan – eggs & milk are pricey and sometimes I am missing one or the other anyway.) I start my day with a piece of this bread and 1/2 cup coffee. It’s easy and enjoyable to make. And it tastes good!

I like to maximize my efforts so these amounts are for a 9×12 pan, but if you wanted to, you could cut the measurements in half to use a square 8×8 pan.

I use whole wheat flour and the following: (Note: I buy all of the Bob’s Red Mill products from Amazon in 4-packs and wait till I have $35 worth of stuff to qualify for free shipping.) The dry ingredients I use aren’t an exact science – and needn’t be followed “to a t” – but are chosen because they provide added nutrients and flavor, and make this a more interesting bread (than flour alone).

Pour 1 2/3 flour into a large bowl. Repeat. (so the total amount is a strange figure something like 3.3 cups.)

Add 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Add about 2 tablespoons each of the following: ground flaxseed, unsweetened coconut, brown sesame seeds, unsalted sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, cocoa powder, and sugar. (Note #1: I buy flaxseed whole and grind it in a coffee grinder as needed. Note #2: You could use 1 tablespoon sugar or eliminate it entirely but I personally like some. Note #3: I very recently learned you should only use regular cocoa powder – not dark – when making baking soda breads. The reason was something chemical & scientific. For our purposes, that’s all we need to know on that subject.)

Add about 1/2 cup each quick oats and raisins. (You can use less if desired.) Stir.

Here is where I like to put the bowl in the sink to work – it’s less messy (I hate flour flying all over the place) and it’s a better angle for stirring, which I do by hand. I think the dough in this amount might be unwieldy in a mixer, but also two points: 1) I feel more connected to the process by hand stirring and 2) This counts as exercise! Burning calories, baby.

Add one cup water, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and about 3/4 cup pumpkin. Stir.

As you can see, the mixture is still dry. You want to add enough water to moisten all the ingredients. Here I added another 3/4 cup water. (Note: Sometimes I make this bread without pumpkin and in that case, I might need to add more water. The objective remains the same, to moisten all the ingredients – that matters more than exact amounts. It’s a forgiving bread and if it comes out too dry for your taste, you’ll know to add more liquid – and even more oil depending on your druthers, next time.)


Lightly spray a 9×12 pan. Put your dough into the pan and spread evenly. Make sure to push the dough into the pan corners (so those pieces don’t end up shorter than the rest!)

Bake in 350° oven for 35 minutes.

Let the bread cool (try to cut it warm and it makes a crumbly mess). I use a plastic serving spatula (to avoid scraping the pan) to cut the bread. I make 2 lengthwise cuts, followed by 5 crosswise cuts, to get 18 pieces. I refrigerate 6 and freeze two bags of 6 each for the coming weeks. Since there is no preservative, you don’t want this bread to languish in your refrigerator. Look how dense and nutritious that is!

Short Thought 115 (sisters)

When I was a teenager and finally had my orthodontic braces removed from my teeth, one of my much older sisters commented that now none of them would be able to “hold a candle” to me. Another sister quickly retorted, “Speak for yourself!”

I was taken aback – surprised – by both comments. Decades later, I can see how the attitude and spirit behind each remained fairly constant.