another new toaster oven – really?

I really had no desire to buy yet another kitchen appliance. I figured we were in good shape as far that went. But when I went to unplug our toaster oven the other day, I noticed that the cord was hot. I mentioned that to Terry, and she said that she had noticed the same thing. She also pointed out that the toast was burning around the edges, even on the light toast setting. I had noticed that as well, but I figured it was operator error. Guess not.

It really hasn’t been that long since we replaced our toaster oven, less than two years, but here we are again. My brother, who is a retired firefighter, told us then that when the cord is hot, to waste no time. He said, in essence, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not wait for the next sale. Replace it now.

Toaster OvenThe most recent toaster oven had a convection setting. But that was well before we got our new stove with its convection oven. This time around we opted for a smaller model without the convection capability, but with toast, bake, and broil. We’re trading in Hamilton Beach for Black and Decker. Our new toaster oven takes up considerably less counter space, which is a nice bonus, given that counter space is at a premium in our kitchen.

It’s not something we wanted to do, but when my brother speaks about fire safety we listen.


the sunflowers have arrived

sunflowersI wrote some weeks back about how we didn’t have sunflowers this year. I was disappointed and speculated that perhaps this was due to our unusually wet winter.

I’m delighted to say that the sunflowers have arrived. They started showing up shortly after the Fourth of July. They are now out in abundance and are showing up on undeveloped property throughout the west side of the San Jacinto valley.

You may recall my writing that sunflowers to me represent hope, progress, and new beginnings. I am, therefore, most happy to see them this year in spite of their late arrival.


we lost our Indian restaurant

My brother Brian is really good at updating me on things he knows I’m interested in. Like when he told me that there was an Indian restaurant going in on the east side of town. Terry and I live on the far west side of Hemet and my brother lives near the extreme eastern border of the city limits. So I appreciate it when he tells me about what’s happening out that way.

Taste of India exteriorThe restaurant was “It’s Taste of India,” which is rather odd grammatically. Either there is an “a” missing or the restaurant was owned by someone named It. In either case, Terry and I were delighted that the restaurant opened, because previously the closest Indian restaurant was thirty minutes south of us in the congested, high-traffic realm of Temecula.

We were pleased with the food at Taste of India and valued the hospitality of the owner. We had lupper (late lunch/early supper) there a number of times and always loved it.

I was unhappy, then, when Brian told me that a Mexican restaurant had moved into that space. When I had a chance to head out that way myself I saw that beneath the restaurant name the sign said, “Authentic Mexican Food.” Say what? There must be two dozen Mexican restaurants here in the San Jacinto Valley. So all of those are fake?

No matter. What is important is that we’ve lost our local Indian restaurant, and for that Terry and I are very sad,


goodbye to all that

Thursday was my final Toastmasters meeting. I had planned this for a while.

ToastmastersI joined Menifee Toastmasters in October 2015 after having moved here in May. I really enjoyed it. I liked the way the program was structured and the progression involved. The program was based on a series of print manuals with a nice range of variety. After I finished the Competent Communication manual and got my Competent Communicator award a whole new world opened up with a selection of fifteen advanced manuals on a wide variety of topics. Through those I got my Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Communicator Silver awards. In amongst all that I got my Competent Leader award through the Competent Leadership manual.

And then Toastmasters International had to go and change it all. They replaced the previous program with a new one called Pathways. It is all web-based and focused on corporate-sponsored clubs, as opposed to the community clubs. It has a distinct career-based bias, neglecting the wider range of experience. I was not happy with the new program.

Thursday’s meeting marked the end of my tenure as president of the club, so it seemed time to make the break. There are other things I can do on those Thursdays. There is the Farmers Market, there is the local interfaith council on the second Thursday, and always the noon Eucharist at Good Shepherd Episcopal.

In counting my ribbons I found I had twelve best speaker awards, thirteen best evaluator, and nine best table topics, the impromptu segment. The count is not exact, as there were ties and sometimes I got the ribbon and other times not. So I feel good about my accomplishments.

Nonetheless, it is time to move on.


regrets and KitchenAid stand mixers

quoteNo, absolutely nothing
No, I regret nothing
—Édith Piaf

quoteRegrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
—Paul Anka as sung by Frank Sinatra

Several weeks ago I gave a speech at Toastmasters about regrets. At the end of the speech I made clear that I was very happy with most aspects of my life and my varied career choices. I said I was certainly very happy with my life and marriage today. But in the body of the speech I wanted to make clear that while my complaints are few, I am not of the “I have no regrets” philosophy. I listed several.

One regret that I did not mention, but which I should have, is giving my KitchenAid tilt-head stand mixer to my sister-in-law Julie, Terry’s sister. I had owned the mixer since 1977, when my parents bought it for me before I headed off to open up the new B. Dalton Bookseller in Laredo, Texas. It was about 2003 or 2004, I suppose, when I saw the larger capacity KitchenAid bowl-lift mixer on sale at our new Lowe’s in Gilroy and decided that I had to have it.

KitchenAid stand mixerWhat I failed to take into account was the fact that in 1986 Hobart Corporation, those folks that make the industrial-grade mixers for pizzerias and bakeries, sold KitchenAid to Whirlpool. The mixer I bought was not nearly as well made or sturdy as the one I gave to Julie.

The bowl-lift mixer has performed well over the years, nonetheless. However, last week it came to the end of its useful life. It still mixes, but no longer kneads dough. It just sits there making a high-pitched squeaking noise that sends Tasha outside. With our new oven and the bread baking I am doing once again, kneading dough is a central mission for my KitchenAid.

I ought not complain given that the mixer has lasted fifteen-plus years. But the KitchenAid I gave Julie is still going strong, as far as I know, and she makes good use of it. She would not be willing, nor would I even consider asking her, to give it back. So Terry and I had to begin the quest for a replacement.

We went to our local Bed Bath & Beyond, but they didn’t have want we wanted. We came home and pulled up Amazon (of course). We settled on a 5-quart tilt-head Artisan model. It is not without reason, after all, that that is the model you often see on Food Network.

It is scheduled to arrive today. I am looking forward to a long and productive relationship. And I will, of course, keep you updated.


another new appliance

It wasn’t our intent to go on an appliance buying binge. Really it wasn’t.

Our oven gave out. The cost to repair it was fully one-third the cost of getting a new stove. So we got a new stove and we have been delighted.

The refrigerator that came with the house was nine years old and gave out six months after our arrival in 2015. The thermostat quit, which meant it was running all the time. Replacement part not available. So we bought a new side-by side.

The new refrigerator was a pain in the rear from the beginning. The bracket that held one of the baskets in the freezer came out from the refrigerator wall, so whenever we tried to pull it out it would fall off of its rails. One of the two crisper drawers on the refrigerator side never opened smoothly. The ice dispenser misbehaved from the very beginning and replacing the control panel did nothing to fix that. Then, finally, the ice maker got out of whack. Either it was leaking, or, as my brother suggested, the valve was not shutting off in time and it was overflowing.

refrigeratorEnough, we said.

We went to our locally-owned appliance shop and explained our plight. The only side-by-sides were Frigidaire, same as what we had. So we checked out the top-bottom models and decided we liked the Whirlpool version. It had more storage space. In the freezer we can stack our frozen lunches horizontally rather than vertically, making it much easier to make a selection at lunch time. The ice maker is well behaved. And we can see what we have in the deli drawer without even having to open it.

It was more money than we planned to spend, but it was worth it. We haven’t done a kitchen remodel, but with our new stove and new refrigerator we don’t need one. We’re pleased with what we have.


struggling brick-and-mortar

I am as guilty as anyone: I order a lot of things through Amazon. It’s simple, convenient, and the prices are good. But sometimes I like to see what I am buying, and for kitchen-related merchandise Terry and I are big fans of Bed Bath & Beyond. We really liked the Gilroy store, and we spent a lot of time (and money) there. The store here in Hemet is smaller, but still not bad.

Now the retailer (Terry and I call it BBY) has been struggling and has announced that they are closing stores this year. So far the Hemet store has remained open, but I wonder how long that will last.

Bed Bath & Beyond couponsWe recently needed a few things, and headed over there armed with their famous 20% off one item coupons. I needed a new 4-cup measuring cup. I hated tossing the Pyrex one I’d had for decades, but it was chipping and you don’t really want to mess around with glass in the kitchen. We were out of food-grade mineral oil for our cutting board and we needed candles.

The candles we found. The only measuring cups they had were cheap plastic ones. Really? Are you kidding me? They didn’t have the mineral oil even though I’d bought it there a year ago. I found a quality glass measuring cup at Target. It’s Anchor Hocking rather than Pyrex, but still quite serviceable. I had to use Amazon for the mineral oil.

I suppose it’s a Catch-22. If BBY doesn’t have the business they don’t have the cash flow to stock the merchandise. But if they don’t have the merchandise they’re not going to get the business – even from people like Terry and me who want to shop there.

The world of retail is not what it once was.