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Food Pass-Fail, The Hubs Edition

Is there an expiration date on this? she said accusingly. Couldn’t find one on this package of spring roll wrappers. These have been in the fridge for literally, actually, factually for more than a year.

Eliminating food waste is a big thing here; the conversation occasionally gets harsh.

An interwebs search revealed no expiration date on this foodstuff. Well, does it qualify as a foodstuff or just an edible mix of ingredients? That’s a slightly disconcerting if accurate thought.

More interwebs searching brought him to Martha and a doable recipe. Chinese cabbage, rice noodles, and onions. Not really a meal, but accomplishes the desired effect of using up the ancient spring roll wrappers.

Wrapping, it appears, is a little trickier than he anticipated.

spring roll fail

Don’t skip the egg wash to seal. This one just fell apart in the pan. Fail!

Spring roll pass

When the wrapper held, he achieved a nice crispy, crunchy wrapper. Pass!

No, we not buying another package of spring roll wrappers so he can practice.

Ow. Ow. And Ow.


Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, which, incidentally, puts the injuries in chronological order.

The three small gashes from wrist to knuckle are from yanking my cell phone from under the car seat during Iko’s first of two emergency vet visits in one day–extreme bowel inflammation and unrelated allergic reaction. Fortunately, she’s now fully recovered. In almost three decades of being a dog owner/parent, I’d never experienced either situation until that day. And I’d also never previously dropped my phone down that tiny gap between seat and center console before. The string of profanities would make your eyes water.

Lost in the skin fold and the shadow are three bites between the index and middle finger. Two mosquito bites, one diagnosed as a spider bite by Dr. Hubs. I agree with this diagnosis as I noticed the bite shortly after mistaking a large spider in the grass for a small toad. Really. It made the grass move as it crawled. And since I was at ground level weeding, I got a good look at it just before I shot up and jumped back. Only a silent scream.

Finally, the fingertip. From the top knuckle up, significant swelling and hurt like a son of a. . . for several days. To state the obvious, infected. (May I take a moment here to praise the efficacy of Smile’s PRID Drawing Salve? Here at we-don’t-go-to-the-doctor-unless-disability-or-death-is-a-plausibility, we’ll try anything that doesn’t hint of snake oil.) No visible injury but the stabbing pain originates from a tiny spot in the cuticle; the throbbing is generalized to the bandaged area. Likely a small puncture from landscaping work. The finger has reduced to almost normal size, the color now almost normal, and using a keyboard normally is almost possible. A week of persistent, low-grade cussing and frequent exhibition of the facial expression that causes people to back away.

The kicker: I’m left-handed.

What I did to anger the universe I do not know. As my niece says, I shake my fist at you!! And I would, except I can’t clench a fist yet.


Making Do – The Spring Edition

Spring kludge 1

Spring into summer is kludging season for the hubs. A few years back, he and the neighbor created a spectacular pool-heating system kludge. Yards of garden hose winding aimlessly behind an array of old glass doors and windows, the whole thing baking in the sun so tepid water would (eventually) flow into their pool. It was a sight to behold, and damn if there is no photographic record. In my mind’s eye it was a glorious Rube Goldbergesque contraption. I’m certain notable lawn damage occurred and there was a minor injury. Or two.

This year’s project is suitably mundane: Divert the rainwater around the garden. Bonus: Helps keep out the rabbits. He cut a handful of old composite boards (stacked behind the deck for years, years I tell you) to a narrower width to cover more territory. The math of figuring out how much territory the boards would cover proved that an illustrator and a writer should never be in charge of such things. Thank goodness there wasn’t a time limit on that problem and we’re good with a tape measure. Only minor marital squabbling took place, mostly when ear protection was on and the saw was running.

And thank goodness there was enough board to go around.

Smarty Pants Fridays: A Little ‘Splainin’


If you have to explain. . . I’ll explain anyway. Triumph of the mundane is the tiny bit of joy/humor felt when little things in life go well. Like figuring out a tailoring trick to make jeans fit.

The accumulation of these exceedingly minor triumphs adds up meaningfully, making the effort worthwhile. The Bhutanese get it, I’m trying to learn it.

The Happy Road to Nowhere


The rice-and-beans budget means travel is mostly a dream state. But back in the day I traveled a fair amount for work, and these tasty little cookies were a favorite. Recently found them at Costco and they don’t disappoint. Perhaps because most trips were nothing glam: puddle-jumpers to Milwaukee or 18-hour-days to California and back. These cookies were the highlight of some trips. Not kidding.

Now I can have a quick mental getaway mid-morning without the lines, sleep deprivation, or smelly travel companions.

I’d really like to take these little mind trips a bit further afoot, maybe to Europe. Hmmmm, have to ask Chad to bring back a big box of assorted Digestives next time he’s across the pond. . .

5 + 2 = Hangry


Oh, that ugly little bit of dietary anti-heaven is making the news again! Fasting diets. Recommended as a way of life, this approach can, in the short term, make a person hangry.

More than two years ago, the hubs and I watched a BBC program on fasting diets. Very well done, seemed to make scientific sense even though we’re not scientists. So we decided to give 5-2 fasting a try. Eat normally five days a week, eat a very-low-calorie diet two days a week. We picked Monday and Thursday.

Stuck with it for about a year and a half, then all heck broke loose in our lives and that plan went by the wayside. The very-low-cal days became lower-than-usual-cal days. Cake was occasionally allowed.

With fasting back in our faces on the news, last week we decided to get back to it. I forgot how miserable fasting days are. Every minute has to be booked or all I’m thinking is Food, Food, Fooooooooddddd!

My hair stylist is on an unrelated diet, and she was extolling the virtues of jicama. Anything low cal to quell the hangries.

I’m not holding out much hope, but let’s see how the day goes.


Optimist, Pessimist — or Is the Garage Door Half Open or Half Closed?

First came the sound – clicka, clicka, clicka, grrrrr, creeeeeeak. Then closing was a cross-your-fingers moment. Time to have the garage door opener checked.

Yesterday the fine fellow said he’d arrive between 10 a.m. and noon. By 11:30, well, we were crazy hungry. We got an early wake-up cold-nose from the big dog, so breakfast had been consumed ahead of the usual schedule. Surely we could get in a quick lunch before the service guy arrived. . .

black bean burgers

The black bean burgers (yes, those again) were nicely defrosted and warmed when the doorbell rang. Of course.

Sigh. The hubs frowned because lunch would be delayed and cold. Seems he had a touch of the hangries. I smiled because just a few microwave seconds and lunch would be toasty again. Had the doorbell chimed two minutes later, the sandwiches would have been assembled (see International House of Cabbage, Asian slaw) and gotten soggy before we got to them.

It’s all in how you look at things.

International House of Cabbage

Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! The week after! Because cabbage was $.29/lb – perfect for our rice-and-beans budget! And now I have to do something with it! *

How about Asian slaw?!
Asian slaw prep

It’s easy and quick!
Asian slaw

See! Yum! We can eat it on Mexican black bean burgers! Healthy!

And sauerkraut! Because I bought that Kickstarter KrautSource home fermentation thingie!
sauerkraut prep

This takes a week, maybe 10 days!

And we can watch it ferment!

*  I promise not to use exclamation points in the next three posts. Just trying to get myself as excited about making stuff with cabbage as I was about buying it at a low price.

Mmmm — Better Than A Watson Dish

In the relatively recent past, IBM’s uber-computer Watson devised recipes, churning out food combinations with the potential for finding interesting flavor mixes. Cognitive cooking is the term.

Where’s the joy of discovery in that? Making the best use of ingredients for wise resource allocation, I’m in. But adding another layer between person and dinner doesn’t ring true to me.

That’s why this dinner is a special delight. The hubs amalgamated a bunch of leftovers into a casserole. Here’s the result:

casserole (2)

And here’s the unlikely recipe: Half a fennel bulb, a few potatoes, some fresh mozzarella, half a pound of Italian sausage (cooked and crumbled), and an onion. Cut/slice as desired. Layer in an oven-proof dish. Cover and bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Then 30 minutes more. Then uncovered to brown for a final 10 minutes. Would never have thought of it. May I be so bold as to say Lynn Rossetto Kasper would approve. Splendid indeed.

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