A look back at what was new, what might be coming, what went on, this past year in Collinsville. This post will be updated throughout the day and possibly tomorrow. In order to keep the page from getting too long, I'll put some material on a second page. Just click the continue hyperlink at the bottom of this post to see more.
Although not the major story of the year, the addition of stop signs on two intersections of Main St. did cause some consternation at the beginning with drivers zooming through without stopping. Most people have gotten used to the signs now.
The city council saw two new members elected, Liz Dalton and Lisa Ciampoli and the mayor re-elected in April. Good-byes were said to Joy Springer and Jim Pulley. The photo shows the new council on the evening of their installation. From left, city manager Bob Knabel, Mayor Schaeffer, John Miller, Nancy Moss, Liz Dalton and Lisa Ciampoli.
Collinsville Crossing shopping area saw some stores open in February with others following through the spring summer and fall.
Home Depot was one of the first to open.
Then came the Super Wal Mart.
The parking lot is almost always full.
Many smaller businesses have opened as well.
This area is nicely landscaped and paved and is without argument a huge improvement over what was there before.
But. Wal Mart's moving to the interstate meant its original building is now empty as well as several other stores which followed Wal Mart out to the Crossing.
The emptiness is depressing to anyone heading down Beltline or shopping at the Schnucks just to the east. Thankfully it appears that Schnuck's has begun re-gaining business following a drop-off after Super Wal Mart opened with a huge grocery section. Hopefully a new business will take over the empty building in 2008.
click continue link below this sentence to see more during the course of the day.
The Post-Dispatch has a great front page story today on how the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is helping it's military chaplains make the leap from the front lines in Iraq and Afganistan back to parish work. Named Operation Barnabas, the program helps chaplains, their families and their congregations work together — before, during and after a pastor's deployment.
This appears to be the year when St. Louis media has finally discovered Lutherans, many stories have featured background and comments from Concordia Seminary professors, synod officials, etc on current news events relating to religion. This is a good thing and long overdue. The LCMS denomination is headquartered in St. Louis.
This particular Operation Barnabas story gives an excellent view of how Lutherans practice involving themselves in the care and support of others. Hopefully more reports like this will be coming in 2008.
Just two days before Highway 40 will be completely shut down in order to rebuild the road, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and columnist Bill McClellan take on MoDOT. The P-D editorial: "You don't have to look any further than the botched re-striping of
Interstate 44 to realize that MoDOT put insufficient thought into this."
Bill McClellan: "Today, we visit fantasyland, better known as the Missouri Department of Transportation."
No one will know until later this week just how closing all lanes of a major east-west artery through the area will affect drivers, businesses, ambulances, residents, but most people know it won't be pretty. When it's finished in two or three years, drivers will realize something no one speaks much about and that is that while the entrance ramps may be better and safer, the highway will not be wider, will hold no more traffic than it does now. No additional lanes will be added to Highway 40.
Then, take a look at the plans for this coming week. Everyone knows the highway will be closed from 170 west to Ballas Road. But, MoDOT will also be closing a couple lanes "periodically" east of that point. Just when drivers think they've made it across surface streets and back onto the highway, boom, they will be sitting in jams because of "periodic" closings. This week 40 will see one westbound lane closed from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m between Boland and Bellevue. One eastbound lane will close "periodically" at Boland.
Every nation it seems celebrates the new year with certain foods thought to bring good luck in the year ahead.
In the U.S., especially in the south, black eyed peas are on the menu. Tradition has it that eating black eyed peas will bring wealth not only because they look like little coins, but because they swell when cooked, a symbol of prosperity. Collard greens are also popular on New Year's because of their green color, representing money.
In Greeceand Brazil a cake is baked with a coin inside and the person who gets a slice of cake with that coin will be blessed with good luck the whole year.
In Italy, my personal favorite tradition, has Italians throwing their old stuff out the windows. This is done to make way for the new to come in and for luck to come along with it. Italians eat pork sausage served over lentils. The fat sausage represents abundance and the lentils symbolize coins.
In Ireland a fruitcake called Barm Brack is served, but, alas, only a
few bites are eaten. The rest is thrown at the door to ward off famine
from the house in the new year. Cakes, being round, symbolize
continuity between the old and the new. In Holland the Dutch eat donuts, a tradition I'm all for.
A more practical New Year's meal comes from Mexico with the eating of Menudo. Menudo soup with chilies, tripe and hominy isn't just warm and tasty. This traditional New Year's dish is a great cure for hangovers. The French eat Brioche thought to bring health, happiness and love. Germans eat sausage and sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is made from cabbage, which is considered another lucky dish, because the leaves are said to represent paper money. Sausage is fatty for prosperity. In Japan, red soba noodles are on the menu, with the noodles slurped in one piece rather than breaking part of it off, thought to bring long life.
Ah, and there is the pickled herring, another German tradition which many Americans go for on New Year's. One of several fish types with silver fins, symbolizing wealth.
So, pick a traditional food or country and have at it. As for me and my house, we'll do things the Italian way this year even though we have no Italian ancestry at all. We just like the idea of throwing old things out the window.
Lingo from England that is. New words and phrases you must know in order to understand what others are talking about. This information will be especially helpful if you happen to be in London or keep company with people from London. Many of the new phrases are clever and make sense in a modern age sort of way, but sometimes the definitions for these words strangely incomprehensible for anyone who is not British.
Some I like:
Irritainment: TV shows and celebs so irritating or bad that they end up
being compulsive viewing for all the wrong reasons. Blamestorming: Getting in a group, discussing why something went wrong
and then deciding whose fault it was. Woof: Well off old fogey. Nonebrity: Someone who ends up a minor celebrity despite having no
obvious talent. Examples a plenty this year.
Definitions which make me reach for a dictionary of British colloquialisms:
Saga Louts:Groups of tea-drinking pensioners who travel to garden
centres and craft fairs on organised coach trips.
Pikea: An open-air area such as a lay-by where people dump old
We have a selfish interest in this list, seeing as how Lizzie and Darren will be having another boy in early February. For anyone else trying to decide on a name for a forthcoming baby, here are the current 100 favorite names for boys. And for girls.
The top ten boy and girl names: 1. Jacob Emily 2. Aiden Emma 3. Ethan Madison 4. Matthew Hannah 5. Nicholas Hailey 6. Joshua Sarah 7. Ryan Kaitlyn 8. Michael Isabella 9. Zachary Olivia 10. Tyler Abigail
What was in what should have been out in foods this past year.
Mini burgers as appetizers. I fell in love with this trend, now pretty commonplace in many restaurants. We first ordered them this summer at a local Houlihans and found them perfect. The mini burgers normally come three to an order which is really a meal. Small plate dinners, another way to go out to eat and try a number of things. Too many restaurants had been serving such massive amounts of food per dinner order you'd feel bloated for 24 hours. This is the perfect way to eat casually.
Cupcakes. If any trend could be a headliner for 2007, the cupcake is it. Cupcakes in all flavors, in all colors, for all occasions, go to any bakery or any bakery section of a supermarket and you'll see customers picking up orders for a dozen or more cupcakes.
Macaroni and cheese. This dish became cool again, even Applebees has it on their menu. Don't order it though, it is not good at all. Like cupcakes and mini burgers, restaurants are offering good old mac and cheese on their menus like never before. It's a personal favorite of mine, I treat mac and cheese like some treat wine tastings. Locally, John's Town Hall on Skinker just down from the big Amoco Sign, located on the ground floor of a high rise apartment building, has one of the best macaroni and cheese dishes.
Organic foods. Seems everyone is looking for produce and meats raised without pesticides and grown locally.
Dark Chocolate. It's very in, especially since studies came out this year proclaiming it's health benefits.
Wine. Pinot Noir took over from Merlot as the most asked for wine. Some of the best pinot comes from the northwest, especially Oregon.
Reusable grocery bags. Sold in most grocery stores now, these cloth bags, often made of recycled material are a super alternative to always bringing home groceries in plastic. The main thing is to remember to bring them into the store with you.
Not so appetizing food trends.
Ice cream made with weird ingredients. Chefs are trotting out ice creams made with herbs, teas, fish, etc. I will welcome the new year with the hope that ice cream goes back to being what it always has been, a great sweet treat.
Kitchen appliance colors. Mixers and toasters and coffee pots and ...are now available in every color of the rainbow. Problem is, buying an expensive Kitchen Aid mixer in your favorite kitchen color this year may be outdated long before the mixer has quit working. Sort of reminds me of the kitchen fad in the 70's where many of us were buying yellow, bronze, green...ovens and refrigerators. Who wants them now? If you can afford to change Kitchen Aid mixers every couple of years when you tire of today's color, go ahead. Otherwise, stick with silver or white, they make you appear to be a serious cook.
Hanger Steak. After seeing this on one menu and then another and another and in food magazines, we finally asked one of our servers just what hanger steak was. She said the steak came from the part of the cow which hangs down. Totally unappetizing image to us. We'll stick to the tenderloin, the rib eye, the porterhouse, the filet, even the sirloin.
Pouching meat and fish. Even Martha Stewart has a few pages on how to pouch fish other meats in her January magazine issue so you know this is a hot trend. Frankly, I don't want all my meat to have the same whitish look or come to the plate very soft. Maybe when we're in the nursing home some day.
Back in early November I put up a post on the problem we were having finding a coffee maker which made hot coffee. After going through several the past couple of years, none of which turned out coffee anywhere near hot, we were about to give up. After that blog post I received a number of emails from people recommending one brand or another and eventually bought a Black and Decker model which many thought would work for us.
Well, it was easy to use, not a lot of dials, the time could be programmed with ease, but the coffee was tepid at best.
Then for Christmas I received a Cuisinart 1200 from my sister. This is it. The coffee brews into the carafe piping hot and stays hot in the cup for a good long time. And, even better, the burner on the hot plate can be adjusted from low heat to higher heat to keep the coffee hot while it sits in the carafe. Now I know there are coffee aficionados who do not like that extra heat time on a hot plate believing it tends to make the coffee taste burned after a while. But, we don't leave it there all day, we have the coffee when we get up and read through the papers. Then we're done.
The Cuisinart gives nice hot coffee. All we have to do is pick out the coffee.