All Saints’ Day Around the World

An International Holiday Commemorated by Different Countries in Different Ways

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Crosses in the sunset
Crosses in the sunset
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All Saints’ Day is generally celebrated on 1st November as a commemoration day for all Christian saints. It may also be known as All Hallows’ Day, Post-Halloween, Solemnity of All Saints, Hallowmas, or Feast of Saints. It is observed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant denominations. It is generally not observed by for-profit pseudo church/cults like Scientology.

History of All Saints’ Day

The origin of All Saints’ Day cannot be traced precisely, and it has been observed on different days in various places. A feast of all martyrs was observed on May 13 in the Eastern church as told by Ephraem Syrus (died c. 373). This may have determined the choice of May 13 by Pope Boniface IV when he designated the Pantheon in Rome as a church to honor the Blessed Virgin as well as all martyrs in 609. The original evidence for the November 1 celebration date and of the expansion of the festival to include all saints, and all martyrs, occurred during the Pope Gregory III’s reign (731–741). He dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s, Rome, on November 1 in honor of all saints. In the year 800 All Saints’ Day was observed by Alcuin on November 1, and it also showed up on a 9th-century English calendar on that day.

In 837 Pope Gregory IV mandated its general observance. In jolly old medieval England the festival was designated as All Hallows, and its eve is still known as Halloween. The period from October 31 to November 2 (All Souls’ Day) is sometimes known as Allhallowtide.



How is All Saints’ Day Celebrated?

  • Italy. All Saints Day is a public holiday and so most public institutions and businesses will be closed. Many people enjoy spending the day with their family and friends. Some traditions include gift giving and attending church services. In particular, in Rome, the pope conducts a large mass (is that a mass mass?) that is open to the public.
  • Spain. It is known as Día de Todos los Santos. Families, especially those of older generations, congregate in cemeteries bearing bouquets of fresh flowers to visit their deceased loved ones and keep their memory revered and alive. Holiday treats and snacks are also traditional. Saint’s bones are made of marzipan and fashioned into finger-sized tubes. Panellets (small cakes or cookies in different shapes) are made of almonds, potatoes, sugar, and pine nuts.
  • France. Here it is called Toussaint which is an abbreviation of ‘Tous les saints’ and began as a catholic festival to honor saints, those both known and unknown. It’s an equal opportunity holiday for a change. Lunch on All Saints’ Day is traditionally lamb or game. At midnight they often partake of a supper of bacon, black grain, pancakes, and cider in honor of the dead.
  • United States. Since the U.S. is a secular country and so diverse, traditions are not nailed down on a national level. For example, in New Orleans folks gather in their local cemeteries and decorate the graves with fresh, aromatic flowers. The descendants of French Canadian settlers around St Martinsville, Louisiana, mark the day in the more traditional French way by laying wreaths and bouquets and lighting candles on even the most obscure of graves.
  • Venezuela. It is not a public holiday. Venezuela is both secular and socialist. Businesses have normal opening hours. It is a day of alms giving and prayers for the dead. The intent is for the living to assist those in purgatory.

To conclude, this is a glimpse of how All Saints’ Day is observed around the world with a bit of history thrown in for good measure. Holidays like these are a good reminder of things we should be grateful for and the niches we as individuals occupy in this world.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Restore a Rusty Cast Iron Skillet

The Original Non-Stick Cookware That Will Last a Lifetime With Proper Care

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

A freshly seasoned cast iron skillet
A freshly seasoned cast iron skillet
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Cast iron cookware originated in China during the Han Dynasty, was adopted by Europeans, and eventually made its way to America. The use of iron for many other purposes predates cookware because the process of casting had yet to be invented. Once that process was developed, it was used for water pipes, cannons, and other objects.

Many cast iron skillets on the market today are Chinese schlock (surprise, surprise). The really good ones, which are what you want, can be quite expensive if they are new. To get a deal though, obtain an older one and restore it to its pristine condition. Have a look at garage sales, estate sales, or Goodwill. The degree to which it needs to be refinished, the less of a financial investment you will likely have to make. Once you find your prize, it’s time to restore it to a useable condition.



Remove the Cast Iron Skillet Rust

Most of the sites on the internet will tell you to remove rust with steel wool and this is fine if you have a very mild case of oxidation. But let me tell you, this will take a long time and will work you to the bone if it is worse than that. Instead, I use a grinding wheel attached to my Ryobi cordless drill to expidite the job. Work smarter, not harder, as Gramps used to opine.

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Grinding wheel on a Ryobi Cordless drill
Grinding wheel on a Ryobi Cordless drill

The grinder in the image above came straight from Home Depot and worked out just right for attacking both the bottom and sides of my skillet as well as the inside corners. Keep even but light pressure.

It’s likely that the outside will need some work as well. In my case, I had some flakes that needed to be chipped off before applying the grinder. For this, I used a old flat-blade screwdriver and my trusty 16 oz. hammer, which I bought at the beginning of my carpenter apprenticeship back in 1979. Still going strong. That was when Craftsman was the premier brand for hand tools. That’s a bit of America we’ll never get back. Sigh.

Seasoning Your Cast Iron

Seasoning your cookware is the most important maintenance step; this is what gives it a non-stick cooking surface. After following the steps above and you have a good surface (it does not have to be shiny, just rust-free and smooth) it’s time to season it.

  • For the first seasoning, apply a thin coat of peanut oil on the entire surfaces of your skillet including the handle.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 350℉.
  • Put your skillet in and let it bake for an hour.
  • Turn off the oven an allow it to cool

That’s all there is to it! Do it at least twice before cooking in it. The handle and outside only need to be done the first time. This is done as a rust-inhibitor. Ideally, you should season your skillet after each washing, but you can judge when it is due by the level of non-stickiness.

Properties of Cast Iron Cookware

  • It is an easy way to more of the mineral iron into your diet. One cup of foods like applesauce, chili, tomato sauce, stew, and scrambled eggs will gain about six to eight milligrams of iron after being cooked in cast iron cookware. This is important for all of us but especially us avid runners and other workoutaholics.
  • It will last a looooong time. In this age of planned obsolescence, it is nice to have something you can pass on to your offspring.
  • It is very heavy.
  • It conducts, distributes, and holds heat well.
  • Unlike some other materials, it won’t develop a convex bottom over time, casing wobble and uneven cooking.

That’s about all there is to restoring a rusty cast iron skillet. With proper upkeep, it will not just serve you well, but it will outlast you.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

A Compilation of Pet Peeves

We All Have Things That Irritate Us. It’s Just Part of the Human Condition.

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Pet peeves grow on you
Pet peeves grow on you
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Pet peeves — we’ve all got them. Sometimes called pet aversion, or pet hate, these are things that others may find inconsequential but that drive us bat-crap. For example, I drive my wife a bit wacky when I keep telling her trivia facts and tales. Can’t help it; I find it fascinating but it just annoys her.

One line of thought is that having pet peeves actually help us cope by channeling irritation from bigger “real” problems like the consequences of COVID-19 lockdown. I was thinking about this the other day and decided to post on the topic; I believe there is some truth to the theory. Since I have insomnia, I have plenty of time to contemplate such deep subjects. Anyway, I’m going to list some things that really get under my skin. Let’s hear about yours in the poll on the right sidebar.


Some of My Pet Peeves; In No Particular Order

Because there’s no rhyme nor reason to this bordering-on neurotic stuff, yeah?

  • Grocery store employee shoppers that monopolize the aisles. This is a trend that really took off during the COVID-19 lockdown. Having grocery store employees shop for pick-up customers is really handy for a lot of people, like harried moms with kids and execs that work late and are trying to shave a few minutes off their schedule. But here’s the thing — in my experience — these employee shoppers navigate these huge carts with which they block the aisles, cut us off (like drivers on the road), and then refuse to give any consideration to us “normal” shoppers. OK, I get it; you are on a schedule and likely have a quota to meet. But remember (take note, store management) daily shoppers like me and my readers are the profit and the employee surrogate shoppers are the overhead.
  • Drivers at stores that just stop at the entrance, blocking traffic, so they can wait for their passengers to finish shopping. Not only are you being inconsiderate and blocking traffic, you’re parked in a FIRE LANE. I’m once again thinking of the Kroger where I grocery shop. Hey, there’s about 300 empty parking slots and no muggers. Why are you so dang lazy?
  • Walkers that walk two, three, or four abreast on hike/bike trails or at running races that obliviously impede other participants. This is annoying because they force others to go off-trail and break their pace. I don’t do many running races anymore, but when I did, this was a major annoyance. I don’t pretend that I was ever going to win anything, but I had trained hard and was trying to reach a goal. On the hike/bike trails I often see familes on bikes (with little kids) have to go off-trail because walking groups are too involved in their conversations to yeild a wee bit of space.
  • Phone call solicitors that don’t obey the “no-call-list.” I’m signed up for both the national and the Texas no-call lists. Has it helped? No. Why not? Because the law isn’t enforced. Sure, the government has the money to fund critical race theory programs, but when it comes to funding someone to police citizens from being preyed on by scam artists? Not so much. Even when you report an infraction, the response is a luke-warm, “we’ll make a note of that.”
  • Drivers that block the crosswalk. I run and walk a lot on and along the roads (for some reason there are no sidewalks in my subdivision and kids have to walk to school because the school district won’t provide busses because we are just shy of 1 mile from the institutions of learning). My tax dollars? Inconsequential, it seems. Altogether too often, when drivers are approaching a crosswalk, either for a stop sign or a red light, will pull up so far as to completely block the crosswalk, even when there are pedestrians already crossing! Every runner, walker, and cyclist should have a RoadID that lists their name, contacts, and any medical conditions in case they are hit by a car. Or even a 10-year old driving a golf cart on the road around here. Don’t laugh; around here golf carts are considered mass transit.


  • People who promote Critical Race Theory and other forms of control and racial superiority. Folks on the left are pushing hard to force Critical Race Theory on society. Schools are buying it; corporations are buying it; even the military is buying it. Sure, it’s a catchy phrase, but they don’t really tell you what it is. It’s Marxism with a facelift. Do you really want that? I don’t, but these people and their ideas are being coddled by almost every institution that we have to interact with.
  • Cancel culture. These folks think they are superior enough to mandate who gets to exist. Or they’re pushing an agenda. Or they’re demented. Or all of the above. A GOD complex gone haywire, and assuaged by the mainstream media.
  • Insomnia. Whew, this is a bad one. I suffer from the sleep disorder insomnia quite often. There are many reasons for it but not nearly enough solutions.
  • People that share their unhappiness with others. It’s true that we all experience some degree of unhappiness now and then. The problem is when we take it out on others. We all know someone at work that does this. Just like the fact that cheerfulness is contagious, chronic destructive unhappiness spreads its tendrils through society like the common cold. Find someone to confide in if you find the need to vent but try to put on a happy face otherwise. It really is therapeudic!

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  • The large amount of damaged goods at Walmart. I haven’t seen any other store, even Mom and Pop stores, that have so many dented cans and corner-squashed cardboard boxes. Are they buying damaged goods to save money? Are the stockers just careless? If it is the stockers, why don’t they get some training, like, stop throwing the merch around? I always bypass the bad stuff, but still, other stores put this shlock in a discount bin.
  • Zip-Lock type bags that don’t. If you buy frozen vegetables or smoothie fruits, cheese, or other goodies, it is likely that the package is called “re-sealable” and sports a zip-lock type closure. The damn things rarely work. I find myself squeezing and cursing for a few minutes and then going to the drawer that contains the clothes pins.
  • Pull-strings on dog food bags. Even though I make homemade dog food, sometimes I find myself between batches and have to resort to bagged kibble. Those string closures sewn onto the top of the bag never pull off correctly. Why is this so hard, Purina People? If you can make a product that has a shelf life of 10 years, you brainiacs out to be able to figure out a container that actually works.

This is my compilation of pet peeves that come immediately to mind. I’m sure there are more. Do you share any of these?


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Intoxalock Ignition Interlock Review

My Experience With This Court-Mandated In-Car Breathalyzer Following a DWI Charge

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Intoxalock ignition interlock device
Intoxalock ignition interlock device
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We’ve probably all been there–out with friends or at a party, or even an extended dinner and had one too many adult beverages. We don’t necessarily feel too woozy, but the numbers on the police officer’s breathalyzer or the blood test might put us over the legal limit, which varies from state to state.

This is what happened to me. Going on advice that I have heard many times over, I politely declined the breathalyzer. I was taken to jail and quickly made bail. But before that happened they took my blood. This was the beginning of my circuitous journey through the Galveston County legal maze. It was going to be a journey of five years. The situation turned out to be no trivial matter.



You Will Probably be Ordered to Install an Ignition Interlock Device

Again, this varies from state to state. Usually, the condition of keeping your driving privileges is installing an ignition interlock breathalyzer in your vehicle. My orders were to get one that also has a dash camera pointed right at my face and a Car Tunes, is close by, and so, convenient for my busy life. I didn’t want to have to drive 30 miles every month for another brand of device. As it turned out, I made a great choice with Car Tunes. They are the best in the area for car stereos, lighting, gadgets, and window tinting. My decision with Intoxalock was a catastrophe, in retrospect. Hopefully, my relating this information will save some readers a headache. Forewarned is forearmed, as I am wont to say.



Things Quickly Went South With Intoxalock

Well, of course they were professional when they wanted to get my business! Of course they were prompt sending the device to Car Tunes for installation (installation is not a DIY project by law). That’s when the honeymoon came to a screeching halt.

The first issue came when I went for my first device calibration. It didn’t work. The Car Tunes guy said all I could do was call Intoxalock “support” for a solution. So I called. I was put on ignore (hold) for 45 minutes. My cell phone battery was starting to go into shock but the saint of the iPhone heard my plea and cut me some well-deserved slack..

  • Her: “How can I help you?”
  • Me: “Well, I’m here at the shop for my first calibration and your machine won’t do it.”
  • Her: “Let me see… OK, it says here that it’s because you haven’t paid your first monthly bill.”
  • Me: “I’m not due for one yet. Besides, my bank account is on monthly billing. You extract the money at your leisure. Why doesn’t your system figure this out?”
  • Her, voice dripping with condescension: “Well, that’s not really the issue. But what I will do, this one time, as a favor, is let the calibration go forward and not charge you the regular additional fee for this service.”
  • Me, astonished: “Well gee, thanks.”


The Battery Issue They Don’t Tell You About

I’m not sure how it all connects to your car; that’s all some kind of secret to discourage tampering. But what they are not really transparent about is that the device puts a constant drain on the vehicle battery. Now, I don’t drive much. I work from home, the grocery store is a 5-minute walk away, and I usually go for my morning training runs right out the front door.

So, imagine my surprise when I got ready one afternoon to go for device calibration and my truck battery is dead. I put it on the charger but it never recovered enough from absolute nada to get me to the shop before closing time. Through the Intoxalock app I explained the situation and asked for a one-day extension but customer “service” never responded, even to refuse my humble request. They just didn’t care about the guy who is paying their bills. The result? My vehicle had a “lockout” and had to be towed to Car Tunes the next day for calibration. Ka-ching! I’m not the only one; there are more battery stories on the BBB website regarding Intoxalock.

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Having the Device Removed and Closing My Account

The device can only be removed from your vehicle when that action is legally approved. In my case, a Galveston County judge decreed it when she closed my case. She gave me paperwork to that effect which is what I was to submit to Intoxalock so they could schedule a removal appointment. Fair enough.

I was so excited. I was finally going to get back to my life! After 5 years I had paid my debt to society. The judge said so. But, hold on there, pardner; Intoxalock wasn’t ready to let go of a cash cow quite yet.

I submitted my removal request and my court document through the Intoxalock phone app. No response. I submitted it a few times to the email address stated on their website for that very purpose, again attaching the judge’s signed-off document. Again, no response. Hmm, I sense a pattern emerging here. So I call them. The customer “support” lady asked if I had received an automated reply from my emails? Nope. Well, she told me, you’ll have to find another way. “What way,” I asked? She said, “Don’t know, maybe fax?” So I’m thinking, this customer service person has no idea about how to solve this simple problem? She’s not going to take the initiative and say, “Sorry, you have been a good paying customer for a year, let me find a solution.”

I tried one more email with the attached judge’s orders. Nada, zip, zilch response. So, sitting here in my home office late one evening I thought, let’s bring in the BBB. I can’t say that I was surprised by what I saw on the BBB site regarding Intoxalock. They enjoy a 1 out of 5-star rating (you can’t give zero stars).

So. I open a case against Intoxalock with the BBB. Within about 15 hours I received an email from Intoxalock stating that they had received my request for device removal. Then, this was their response to the BBB (who had forwarded my complaint to them):

RECEIVE BUSINESS RESPONSE: A member of Intoxalock management team has reviewed Ms. Smith’s account.  Intoxalock does regret any poor experience she has had and apologize for any undue frustration she may have incurred. As of 6-28-21 Intoxalock state compliance has noted the authorization to remove the interlock device.  Ms. Smith has also scheduled the removal for 6-29-21.  Once the removal is complete Ms. Smith’s account will be closed out.  Intoxalock has attached Ms. Smith’s final billing showing a zero balance due                 If Ms. Smith would like to discuss this she can reach a member of Intoxalock management team at 515-204-2573 or 525-461-2248.

The BBB now asks me if I accept or decline the accused’s response. Here is my response:

CONSUMER SATISFIED : (The consumer indicated he/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)                 I accept the response with the following caveats. They tell me their system is supposed to generate an automatic “we received your email” email to me after I submitted my request attached with the Judge’s decree. This did NOT happen for numerous emails and phone calls over the course of approximately 2 weeks. Miraculously, I got one less than 24 hours after I filed a complaint with the BBB! Then, later that day, they sent me another email saying they couldn’t ship me a unit because I had not signed a lease. What? All my emails and phone calls referenced REMOVAL, not ACQUIRING. Obviously, their system is broken on so many levels. The unit was removed yesterday but I won’t trust that my account will be closed until I see it, for obvious reasons. I’ll be watching my bank account closely; they have been either devious or incompetent on all other actions.

That’s the long and short of my experience with the Intoxalock Ignition Interlock device and the company. There should be a recognition of so many shady and possibly illegal things going on here. In my case it wasn’t just shoddy customer relations; it was how they pretended to ignore my communications (and potentially keep billing me) until the BBB held their feet to the fire. If you find yourself to be court-mandated to install one of these devices, I urge you to do your research. Look at all the cases on file with the BBB. As I said, only 1 out of 5 stars.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Creamy Turkey Mushroom Couscous Recipe

This Pasta and Lean Meat Dish is a Real Crowd-Pleaser

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Creamy turkey mushroom
Creamy turkey mushroom couscous
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I’ve long wanted to try a couscous recipe just because the word sounds cool. How shallow, right? But, anything pasta is tickety-boo here in the Smith abode. Pasta forms the basis of many recipes that I keep going back to again and again. Who doesn’t like Beef Stroganoff, for example?

But hey, you are here for a more specific recipe, right? I looked at a lot of different recipes that were similar but not. quite. right. So, here we go!



Ingredient List (Organic When Possible)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. Turkey sausage
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced and chopped, cremini or baby bella
  • 3/4 cup onion
  • 3/4 cup bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried pearl couscous pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach (about 4 ounces)


Preparation Steps

Creamy turkey mushroom couscous  preparation
Creamy turkey mushroom couscous preparation
  1. Finely grate the Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup), mince the garlic, and slice the mushrooms 1/4-inch thick.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or similar pot using medium-high heat until shimmering. Add in the sausage meat and brown it. Add in the mushrooms, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the pink salt, the onion, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are slightly browned and tender. This should take 5 to 8 minutes. Next, add in the garlic, the and the dried pearl couscous pasta (about 2 1/2 cups) and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the 2 cups of broth and the 2 cups of whole milk and bring it all to a boil. Next, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently to keep the orzo from sticking, until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed and has formed a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions.
  4. Remove your pot from the heat. Add the eggs, packed baby spinach, the bell pepper. and the Parmesan. Stir it until the spinach is just barely wilted and the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Serve topped with more grated Parmesan cheese.


I hope you found this creamy turkey mushroom couscous recipe as delicious as we did! I love experimenting in the kitchen and this was somehow my first time cooking with couscous and now I’m a fan.

More Favorite Recipes and Nutrition Info


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Father’s Day in the United States

A History of the Origins of Dad’s Holiday and Some Father’s Day Gift Suggestions

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Happy Father's Day!
Happy Father’s Day!
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Here in the US, Father’s Day follows close on the heels of Mother’s Day. And, like that day of maternal honor, it has its own history. Actually, there are two commonly accepted stories of when Father’s Day in the US had its debut. Which one you subscribe to is fine. Both if you prefer; it’s a big tent. Let’s look at the left coast story first.

Founder: Sonora Smart Dodd

Date: 1910. Place: Washington state. Dodd was attending Mother’s Day sermon at church in 1909 when she reflected that mothers were on the receiving end of all the acclaim but fathers were getting short-changed with respect to a day of praise.

No wonder this rankled her. Her own father– William Smart, a Civil War veteran–became a widower–when his wife died as she gave birth to their sixth child. He went on to raise the six children by himself on their Washington homestead.

Her preferred date was June 5th. This was the anniversary of her father’s passing so it was the obvious choice to designate to celebrate Father’s Day, but because of faulty planning, the initial celebration located in Spokane, Washington was shifted to the third Sunday in June. Close enough. Now, let’s look at the second story.



Founder: Grace Golden Clayton

Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908–a deadly mine explosion had just killed 361 men. Clayton suggested to the minister of the local Methodist church that they hold services to celebrate fathers. Those taking up the banner of support, such as memory lasts longer than a doo-dad. Now that the Covid-19 lockdown has eased, I suppose we can do that again. Here are some popular gifts.

  • Tools. Always a favorite, tools are essential for hobbies and DIY projects. I’m a big proponent of the Ryobi 18V ONE+ family of power tools. Since all the tools operate off the same battery type, compatibility is guaranteed. Hand tools are always a good choice as well.
  • Sports watch. Most fathers are into some kind of fitness today. It can be running, like me, golf, cycling, hiking, etc. Whatever it is, chances are there’s a specific Garmin GPS sports watch for it. I’ve been using Garmin watches for years. Today’s watches do so much.
  • Personal weather station. Is dad a weather geek? Does he like gadgets? I recently installed an Ambient weather station in my front yard. I have the display console on my desk in my home office. The Weather Channel is fine but now I know what’s happening right at my house, not just what is happening generically in the general area. When I step out the front door for a run, I need to know not only the heat but also the humidity.
  • Is dad a reader? I’m a big Kindle fan. I still have my Kindle Paperwhite but I’ve upgraded to the Fire HD 10 Tablet. It’s got the Kindle plus all the functionality to keep up with social platforms, email, and more. I wish I had this when I was making the long commute to work on the Metro bus and train.
  • Cold Brew coffee maker. I love my piping hot coffee in the morning but nothing beats a glass of cold brew in the afternoon. It’s available in the grocery store but my issue is that it’s too expensive because it is currently trendy with hipsters. My solution? I brew my own in the fridge. Read my review of the Zulay Cold Brew Coffee Maker.

Although many other countries have their own customs to pay homage to dad, Father’s Day in the United States is really a great holiday. Even during these trying times when we are pelted with such juvenile bromides as “patriarchy,” “old white men,” and “male oppression,” there still lingers a core of reverence for the traditional family unit.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Crustless Tomato Pie Recipe

Combine the Goodness of Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Lots of Cheese

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Crustless tomato pie right out of the oven
Crustless tomato pie right out of the oven
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I love to come up with new recipes. I’m especially partial to baking bread and comfort food casserole-type dishes. This tomato pie recipe was prompted by the fact that the tomatoes in my garden are coming in fast and furious, like a profitable jackpot from a slot machine. No complaints about that, but it’s use ’em or lose ’em; am I right? This year my vegetable garden is home to red and yellow tomatoes as well as herbs like basil and lemon balm, which not only makes great tea but has medicinal benefits. Using as many ingredients from my own garden means I can be sure they are organic. Anyhow, on to the recipe.



Crustless Tomato Pie Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes sliced, about 1/4 inch
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup onion (I like red ones)
  • 3/4 cup bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (that’s right out of my garden as well)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, plus extra for sprinkling over top
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Tomato Pie Preparation
Tomato Pie Preparation

Preparation Steps

  1. Slice the tomatoes and lay them out on plates. Sprinkle lightly with pink Himalayan salt and let them rest for 30 minutes. This step is important to leech out excess water.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions, and saute until they are soft.
  3. Transfer mixture into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in the eggs, cheese, bell pepper, pepper, and cilantro.
  5. This is a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Spray cooking spray on your casserole dish. I used my 2 1/2 quart Corningware.
  7. Tilt your plates to spill off the excess water. Then, lightly press down with paper towels to remove even more water.
  8. Line the bottom of the dish with tomato slices and spoon a thin layer of the mixture on them. Keep going, in like fashion, building up layers. Spread a final thin layer of cheese across the final, top layer.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes. It’s done when lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool a bit before serving.

And there you have it. There are other versions but this is my crustless tomato pie recipe. Are there other possible ingredients? Sure, depending on your taste. Try serving it with something like a raw Tuscan kale salad.

More Recipes to Try (and Some Nutrition Info Thrown In)


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Baked Eggplant Fries Recipe

Eggplant is an Overlooked Vegetable That is Low-Calorie and High in Nutritional Value

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Baked eggplant fries
Baked eggplant fries
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You say, “Fries that aren’t potatoes? Blasphemy!” Well, call them whatever you want; baked eggplant fries are good. Unless you’re talking about Eggplant Parmesan, this nightshade vegetable gets comparatively little air-time. But it should. There are many varieties but at the end of the day, it originally came from India and Asia, where it grows wild to this day. Eggplants made their way to Europe with the Islamic empire in the 7th and 8th centuries.

Eggplant Nutrition?

This vegetable really stands out in this department. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of eggplant has:

  • 25 calories
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 0.2 grams fat
  • 6 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams fiber (we all love regularity, right?)

It’s also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. It has antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which help protect your cells against damage. It’s also high in natural plant chemicals called polyphenols, which may help cells do a better job of processing sugar if you have diabetes. It’s also rich in acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps lower blood pressure.



Baked Eggplant Fries Ingredient List

  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil cooking spray (or the spray of your choice that you have on hand)
  • Marinara sauce or your choice, for dipping

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place the whisked eggs into a shallow bowl and season them with a little salt and pepper. Place the breadcrumbs onto a plate, add the parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs, toss to combine.
  • Wash and cut off ends of eggplant.
  • Slice down the middle and keep slicing until they are about 1/4″ thick.
  • Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Coat each slice with the whisked egg, coat it with panko, and arrange them on the cookie sheets. You might have to change out the moist panko for fresh dry. Keep the wet panko!
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove and enjoy!

Additional Notes

Of course, I had some whisked egg and wet panko left over. So, waste not, want not. I mixed the two, added another egg, some grated cheese, and baked it. Not exactly a souffle, but the next best thing. Just throw in whatever you want. Well, that’s the Baked Eggplant Fries Recipe. Enjoy!



More Recipes to Try (and Some Nutrition Info Thrown In)


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

11 Types of Woodworking Joints

Carpentry Joinery for Strength and Aesthetic Appeal

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade woodworking putty
Homemade woodworking putty
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There are many types of woodworking joints to choose from. Which to use on your current carpentry project? In my opinion, there are three main considerations.

  • Joint strength is the most important. Some things you build will be more subject to wear and tear than others.
  • Do you have the right shop tools and skills? Some joints, like the dovetail joint, can be made with a jig or with hand tools. Skills? You can always learn them.
  • Aesthetics, or the beauty of a particular joint should be considered after you have satisfied the first to points.

Types of Woodworking Joints

  • Pocket Hole Joinery. This is basically a butt joint with pocket hole screws.; it’s very popular for furniture building and repair. Two drilling steps are called for. First, counterbore the pocket hole itself. This is where the screw head is contained. Second, drill a pilot hole so the centerline is the same as the pocket hole. This allows the screw to go through one piece and into the adjoining piece. You use two different sized drill bits for this operation in most cases although step-bits are sometimes used. Kreg is the most popular brand of jig for this joint.

A dovetail joint
A dovetail joint

  • Dovetail Joint. This is a very strong woodworking joint. It’s known for tensile strength (resistance from pulling apart). The woodworking dovetail joint is often used to connect the sides of a drawer to the front. A number of pins are cut to extend from the end of one board and lock with a number of tails cut into the end of another board. These pins tails have a trapezoidal shape and can be cut by hand or with a jig. I use a Porter Cable dovetail jig. Once glued up, your joint is permanent without any mechanical fasteners. See the video below where I show you how to make glue that matches your project wood perfectly.
How to make homemade wood putty
A woodworking butt joint
A woodworking butt joint
  • Butt Joint. The Butt Joint is a simple woodworking joint. It joins two pieces of stock by just butting them together. The butt joint is the simplest joint to make so in that respect it might be the correct choice if you don’t have many tools at your disposal. It is also the weakest wood joint unless you use some form of reinforcement (like dowels, which can add a decorative touch). Otherwise, it depends upon glue alone to hold it together. Because of the orientation of the pieces, you have an end grain to long grain gluing surface. The resulting wood joint is weak, as you might expect because glue alone doesn’t provide much lateral strength.
  • Biscuit Joint. A biscuit joint is nothing more than a reinforced Butt joint. The biscuit is an oval-shaped piece. Typically, a biscuit is made of dried and compressed wood, such as beech. You install it in matching mortises in both pieces of the wood joint. Most people use a biscuit joiner to make the mortises. Accuracy is important for the mortises. You design the biscuit joint to allow flexibility in glue-up.
A double biscuit joint ready for glue-up
A double biscuit joint ready for glue-up
Biscuit joiner for woodworking
Biscuit joiner for woodworking
  • Bridle Joint. This is similar to a mortise and tenon; just cut a tenon on the end of one piece and a mortise into the other piece to receive it. Cut the tenon and the mortise to the full width of the tenon piece. The result is only three gluing surfaces so it is imperative to use a very high-quality woodworking glue. A mechanical fastener or some sort of through-pin is required.
A bridal joint
A bridal joint
Finger joint or box joint
Finger joint or box joint
  • Finger or Box Joint. This one is much like a dovetail joint except that the pins are square and not angled. It is easy to make if you know how to use a table saw or a wood router with a jig. The Porter Cable 4216 12″ Deluxe Dovetail Jig Combination Kit comes with a box joint template. This finger/box joint was invented as a better way to construct simple boxes for produce from field to market. That, my friends, is capitalist ingenuity in action.
A dado joint
A dado joint
  • Dado Joint. OK, funny name but a dado is simply a slot cut into the surface of a piece of wood. When seen in a cross-section, the dado has three distinct sides. Cut a dado perpendicular to the grain of the wood. Technically, it’s different from a groove, which is cut parallel to the grain. This joint is a good choice for bookcase shelves.
A typical lap joint
A typical lap joint
  • Half Lap Joint. With the half lap joint, remove material from each piece such that the finished joint results in the thickness of the thickest piece. But in the majority of half lap joints, both pieces are of the same thickness. Just remove half the thickness of each piece.
A mortise and tenon joint
A mortise and tenon joint
  • Mortise and Tenon Joint. This is a very strong woodworking joint. In the majority of situations its used to join two pieces at a 90° angle. One end of a piece fits into a square hole in the other piece. The end of the first piece is the tenon; the hole in the second piece is the mortise. The tenon is glued in but if you require additional strength, you can also pin it. This is sometimes done for decorative reasons. It is a generally accepted practice to make the tenon about a 1/3 the thickness of the piece. The mortise can be cut by removing as much wood as possible with a plunge router then cleaning up the edges with a chisel.
A rabbet joint
A rabbet joint
  • Rabbet Joint. This a recess that’s cut into the edge of a board. Seen in a cross-section, the rabbet is two-sided and open to the end of the surface. It can be used in the back edge of a cabinet to allow the back to fit flush with the sides. It can also be used to insertion of a glass pane in a picture frame.
Tongue and groove joint
Tongue and groove joint
  • Tongue and Groove Joint. This is another very strong joint because of all the open grain on both pieces of wood. It’s used in many applications. For example, to make wide tabletops out of solid wood. Other uses include wood flooring, parquetry, paneling, etc. You can cut the tongue and groove in a number of ways. An effective way to make this joint is on a router table.

Knowing these 11 types of woodworking joints, you’ll most likely find one or more to fit the needs of your woodworking project.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Why Grow Sage in Your Garden?

This Medicinal Herb is a Must-Have in Your Garden or Flower Bed

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

The many health benefits of sage
The many health benefits of sage
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Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a medicinal herb that offers a powerful effect against both viruses and microbes which makes it important in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been used for centuries by herbalists worldwide. The name Salvia comes from the Latin word “salvus” which can be translated as “I save” or “I heal.”

Many plants in your garden perform more than just providing food. Whether you are a prepper or not, you likely grow some of these plants to repel mosquitos, for example. Some herbs, like mint, do double-duty. Sage is primarily medicinal. The Romans were the people who began using sage extensively so it has a long history.

The Medicinal Benefits of Sage

  • A Powerful Disinfectant. A sage decoction (boiling in water to extract the benefits) and gargle to clean your mouth and treat various inflammation of the mouth. Use it externally to treat skin wounds and inflammation. Rub it on or add it to your bath.
  • Sage as an Anti-Inflammatory. It can treat inflamed gums, mouth ulcers, and many other irritations. Chew fresh leaves or make a poultice and apply it to your cold sores on your lips or nose. It’s no wonder that sage is one of the most common ingredients in toothpaste.


  • Use it to Eliminate Indigestion. Do you suffer from indigestion? Like the medicinal herb lemon balm, sage is your friend. Just add it to your line-up of bread baking ingredients or to your cooking.
  • Gallbladder Booster. Adding sage to your daily meals will stimulate the gallbladder.
  • Sage Tea for Cleansing. Some believe that half of a gallon of a mild sage decoction can cleanse your intestinal wall, helps cure polyps, and kills harmful parasites. That’s a lot of curative power. Some believe it is effective as a liver detox method.
  • Cell Protection. Sage can help protect your body’s cells from damage resulting from free radicals due to its high antioxidant capacity. Free radicals often cause cells to die and can lead to impaired immunity and chronic disease. They can be formed either naturally in your body by means of your normal metabolic processes or from external factors like X-rays, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, and exposure to industrial chemicals.


  • Alzheimer’s Treatment. An article in the US National Library of Medicine reports, “In vitro and animal studies have confirmed that several Salvia species contain a large array of active compounds that may enhance cognitive activity and protect against neurodegenerative disease.” It goes on to say, “In this 4-month study, participants allocated to the active-drug condition (60 drops of S. officinalis daily) experienced significantly greater improvements in cognitive function as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale.”
  • Lowers Blood Glucose and Cholesterol. Another article in the US National Library of Medicine reported, “Conclusions: S. officinalis leaves may be safe and have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid profile improving effects in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients.”

Growing Sage

  • Sage is resistant to both cold and heat; its cold hardy to -30°.
  • It flowers during the summer.
  • Plant it in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade but the flavor will be reduced.
  • Cultivate it in well-drained soil. Sandy loam is preferable but it will grow in average soil too. It prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.7.
  • You can start sage seed indoors as early as 6 to 8 weeks before the average last frost date in your growing zone.
  • Or, sow seed in your garden during late spring after the last frost. Sow seed shallowly, ¼ inch deep.
  • For companion planting, grow sage with chives and calendula, cabbage, carrots, strawberries, and tomatoes. It is believed to deter cabbage-family pests such as imported cabbage worms and root maggot flies. The flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden. Sage will stunt the growth of cucumbers and has a negative effect on onions.

It’s easy to see why you should grow sage in your garden. Whether you plan to use it for natural medicine, as an ornamental, or for companion planting, it will enhance your property. Always grow organically; what you put in your soil ends up in your body.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.