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May 2024

Repurposing: Turning a used rice container and a couple of kitchen utensils into a bird feeder

Arborio Rice container turned bird feeder
Repurposing a container

Why spend a bunch of money on a bird feeder online or in-store when you can make one from stuff you were going to throw in the trash or recycle bin at home?

That's what I did today, it took me all of 10 minutes.

I've been toying with the idea of hanging some birdfeeders and placing a bird bath in my yard, and I've done some shopping online, but I haven't bought anything yet.   I don't think I'm going to, it's more enjoyable and productive to make my own.

I took an Arborio Rice container, a couple of old kitchen spoons that are past their prime, and a bamboo skewer and made a bird feeder.

Bird Feeder
Dinner is served! Sunflower kernels!

I could have used a water bottle, but I like the rice container because it has a big lid, I won't have to use a funnel to refill the container with birdseed.  In creating the feeder, I simply drilled a quarter-sized hole near the bottom of the container, pushed a utensil through (wooden or plastic spoons work fine) handle first to the other side, then drilled a second hole big enough to accommodate the spoon handle.  I repeated the process further up the container, this one was a more custom hole drill, as the spoon had a slant to the handle, so it wasn't a straight shot.  To give the birds a place to perch while they wait to 'dig in', I drilled a few small holes for a bamboo skewer.  It will be fine for the smaller birds like finches and chickadees, and the bamboo will hold up to the weather.  I also used a stainless steel screw and washer to secure the container to the post, safe for birds.  Finally, the way I secured the container to the post will allow me to swivel it upside down, and easily clean it by hosing it out, letting it air dry, and then refilling it.

This was a fun little project that didn't cost me a thing (well, birdseed, but that's it) and will provide some bird-watching entertainment!  Next up, repurposing a plant container saucer into a bird bath!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

New job opportunities with Sedgwick County, 05/26/2024

Sedgwick County LogoJobs
Management Intern - COUNTY MANAGER - Wichita, KS, US
Criminal Justice System Analyst - COUNTY MANAGER - Wichita, KS, US
Crisis Stabilization / Observation Unit Integrated Care Specialist - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Mobile Crisis ICS III - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Part-time Crisis Integrated Care Specialist - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Part-Time DOC Communications Specialist - CORRECTIONS - Wichita, KS, US
Part-time Van Driver - AGING & DISABILITIES - Wichita, KS, US
SCOAP/Transition Team Integrated Care Specialist III - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Adult Field Based Integrated Care Specialist II - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
School Based Integrated Care Specialist II - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US

Product Review: COMFEE' Stainless Steel Electric Kettle

COMFEE' Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
Better than a stovetop teapot, and faster than a microwave...

Better than a teapot, faster (and safer) than the microwave, and far superior to bringing a pot of water to a boil, if you don't already have an electric kettle, you're going to want one after reading this...

I enjoy 2-3 cups of green tea in the afternoon.  Up to now, I've been content with boiling water in the microwave, using a 2-cup measuring cup, nuking it for three minutes then pouring the boiled water into my teacup and letting the bagged green tea do its thing.  

Enter, the COMFEE' Stainless Steel Electric Kettle

The electric kettle boils water for my tea in half the time it takes in the microwave.

I've thought about buying a teapot for the stovetop, but I bought an electric kettle instead.  In addition to the faster boiling time, another benefit to the electric kettle is saving burner space on the stovetop. I do a lot of scratch cooking, so open burner space in my house comes at a premium for all the sauteing, frying, boiling, and simmering that goes on.  

With that cooking in mind, which could mean boiling up a pot of water for pasta, potatoes, eggs, other veggies, etc., well that bring-water-up-to-boiling time has been cut by more than half with the new kettle.  The kettle can boil up to 1.7 liters of water (that's a bit over 7 cups for those of you who live in Valley Center) in 5-7 minutes.  TIP:  Warm up your pasta/potato/egg/soup/veggie, whatever pot over medium-high heat, no water, then dump in the electric kettle water.  You'll cut at least 10 minutes off your prep time.  No more waiting for the big pot to come to a boil.  The electric kettle is also beneficial for adding hot liquid to loosen up or create any number of dishes, sauces, gravies, etc.

The stainless steel pot is good-looking and has an automatic shut-off once the water starts boiling, as well as boil-dry protection.  Can't get that with an old-school stovetop teapot! The cool-touch (no hot pad required!) handle features a simple release button for the pop-up lid to protect you from accidental burns.

Costing me $21.74 on Amazon, I'm giving the COMFEE' Stainless Steel Electric Kettle 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  Not only is it better than a teapot, faster than a microwave, and superior to boiling up a pot of water, it's mobile too!  The 360° swivel base with UL standard power cord can deliver you hot water anywhere there's an outlet.   Bonus, it was cheaper than most stovetop teapots.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

New XL Sized Hot and Iced Drinks Gives Scooter’s Coffee Fans More of the Drinks They Love

Scooters Coffee LogoOMAHA, Neb. – For those days when the coffee cup runs empty too soon or when you need a little extra refreshment, Scooter’s Coffee® is introducing something big. The new extra-large (XL) size cup, also known as the Super Scooter™, is now available at Scooter’s Coffee locations nationwide.

All iced drinks and hot drinks on the Scooter’s Coffee menu can now be ordered in an XL size, including our signature Caramelicious®, limited time offerings like our S’mores Latte, our refreshing new line of Scooter’s Coffee Quenchers™ including Strawberry Lime and Pineapple MintSCOOOT! Energy™ Infusions and slow-steeped Cold Brew.

“Our customers asked, and we delivered. The new XL menu options give our customers the opportunity to put a little more amazing in their day,” Scooter’s Coffee CEO Joe Thornton said. “We’re thrilled to give our customers more of the drinks they love and even more of a reason to scoot on around.”

Each iced and hot drink on the Scooter’s Coffee menu has been crafted to deliver the same amazing flavors and world-class espresso, but in a larger size. The new XL options hold approximately 32 fluid ounces for iced drinks and 24 fluid ounces for hot drinks. Elevate your drink by adding creamy cold foam, additional flavorings or an additional shot of espresso. Additions and substitutions extra.

Try our new XL size options by ordering through the Scooter’s Coffee mobile app or by visiting your nearest Scooter’s Coffee location.

About Scooter’s Coffee

Founded in 1998 by Don and Linda Eckles in Bellevue, Nebraska, Scooter’s Coffee uses only the finest coffee beans in the world, which are roasted by its affiliated company, Harvest Roasting, in Omaha, Nebraska. In over 25 years of business, the key to Scooter’s Coffee’s success is simple: stay committed to the original business principles and company’s four core values, which are Integrity, Love, Humility and Courage. The Scooter’s Coffee Brand Promise, often recited to franchisees, customers and employees, is: “Amazing People, Amazing Drinks… Amazingly Fast!®” It represents the company’s business origins and reflects a steady commitment to providing an unforgettable experience to loyal and new customers.

Scooter’s Coffee‘s network is approaching 800 stores in 30 states and is striving to become the #1 drive-thru specialty coffee franchise system in the nation. Scooter’s Coffee ranked #13 on Yelp’s 2023 list of 50 Most Loved Brands in the U.S. and ranked #2 on Franchise Times Fast & Serious 40 Smartest-Growing Franchises in 2024. 

For more information, visit or call 877-494-7004. To connect with Scooter’s Coffee, visit FacebookInstagramTikTok or X (formerly Twitter) and share your favorite moments by tagging @scooterscoffee using the hashtag #ScootOnAround.

Splash into Food Safety at the Pool this Summer

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USDA Food Safety Blogs
A young boy holds a hot dog by the pool with a woman to the left smiling.

Splash into Food Safety at the Pool this Summer

It’s officially pool season! Meals at the pool come in many forms – ordered from the snack bar, delivered from local restaurants, packed from home, or carried outside from the kitchen. Follow these food safety steps to keep splashing all summer long!

Stay in the Splash Zone and Avoid the Danger Zone

The Danger Zone is the temperature range where bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 F. To avoid the Danger Zone, cold foods must be kept at 40 F or below by placing them in the refrigerator, insulated coolers with cold sources, or nestled over ice. If the Danger Zone can’t be avoided, follow the 2-hour rule or 1-hour rule if above 90 F. After these timeframes, perishable foods are no longer safe and should be discarded.

Cool Pool Snacks

Perishable snacks like deli meats, cut fruit and vegetables, cheese, and yogurt need to follow the 2-hour and 1-hour rules, or be kept cold under 40 F. Non-perishable pool snacks like jerky, crackers, chips, popcorn, pretzels, candy, trail mix, and granola bars can withstand the summer heat and remain safe without being kept cold.

~Pool Dinner~

Pool meals are often an assortment of items. No matter what you’re eating, keep it safe:

  • If cooking food: always use a food thermometer to cook to a safe minimum internal temperature.
  • If packing food: pack into an insulated bag or cooler with enough cold sources to keep below 40 F or follow the 2-hour rule.
  • If having food delivered: consume within two hours. Chill any leftovers below 40 F or discard them if it’s been longer than two hours. 

For more information about food safety, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email [email protected], or chat live at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday to reach a food safety specialist in English or Spanish.

Wichita District 1: Upcoming May Events!

District 5

District 1


Council Member Brandon Johnson

District 1 residents, be sure to mark these upcoming events on your calendar!


Progeny convenes youth from the community alongside emerging leaders, change makers, and partner organizations to collectively address pressing issues facing our community and will be facilitating a discussion at the Atwater Resource Center this Thursday.

When: Thursday, May 23rd 6:00PM

Where: The Atwater Resource Center

2755 E 19th St N

Wichita, KS 67214

Please take a moment to register using the link provided below, so progeny can ensure adequate seating and food/drinks for all attendees. Feel free to bring along friends who share your passion for positive change.

Register Now:

On Thursday, May 16th the Urban League of Kansas, Bank of America, and the Kansas Food Bank are partnering together to provide a fresh produce drive-thru mobile. Anyone in need of food assistance is encouraged to attend. 

The line for this mobile starts at the Poplar Street entrance to the Urban League’s back parking lot. Cars should continue lining up to the North.

When: Thursday, May 16, 2024

Time:  2:00 pm – 3:00 pm (while supplies last)

Where: Urban League of Kansas

2418 E 9th St N

Wichita, KS 67214

For more information, please contact Frankie at the Urban League (316) 512-1071 or Ken at the Kansas Food Bank (316)-265-3663.

On Friday, May 24th, the New Life Church and the Kansas Food Bank are partnering together to provide a produce pantry at the New Life Church. Anyone in need of food assistance is encouraged to attend. 

When: Friday, May 24, 2024

Time:   4:45 pm – 5:45 pm (while supplies last)

Where: New Life Church (park in the back parking lot)

1156 North Oliver

Wichita, KS 67208

For more information, please contact Ken at the Kansas Food Bank at 316-265-3663.

On Friday, May 31st, the Word of Life Church (South campus) and the Kansas Food Bank are partnering together to provide a produce pantry at the Word of Life Church. Anyone in need of food assistance is encouraged to attend. 

When: Friday, May 31, 2024

Time:   4:30 pm – 6:30 pm (while supplies last)

Where: Word of Life Church

2020 E Blake

Wichita, Ks 67211

For more information, please contact Ken at the Kansas Food Bank 316-265-3663.

On Friday, May 31st, the Word of Life Church (South campus) and the Kansas Food Bank are partnering together to provide a produce pantry at the Word of Life Church. Anyone in need of food assistance is encouraged to attend. 

When: Friday, May 31, 2024

Time:   4:30 pm – 6:30 pm (while supplies last)

Where: Word of Life Church

2020 E Blake

Wichita, Ks 67211

For more information, please contact Ken at the Kansas Food Bank 316-265-3663.

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City of Wichita | 455 N. Main Street | Wichita, KS 67202 US

Spend less money on fertilizers and bagged dirt by composting

Tumbler style compost bin
Easy to assemble

Ask any serious gardener if they compost, and 9 out of 10 will answer, "Yes!"

The benefits are many, the challenges are few.

In my early days of gardening, I was a store-bought fertilizer and bags of peat moss guy, never giving much thought to composting.  It was 'easy' or so I thought, to hook up the MiracleGro "Liquafeed" gizmo to the garden hose and 'feed' the plants...  with chemicals and salt...   Experience has taught me a few lessons.  While MiracleGro can provide short-term green growth to plants, in the long term, it's not good for the soil.

Composting, and the organic matter it creates is a much better alternative to chemical fertilizers for several reasons.

  • It's a slow, steady release of nutrients, no danger of burning plants, or over-fertilizing
  • No salt build-up
  • All natural, safe for kids and pets
  • It builds the soil, as opposed to killing soil microbes, worms, and such like chemical fertilizers can
  • Healthier soil means healthier plants, and fewer problems like disease and infestation

And composting is so easy to do.  All you need is some veggie scraps from dinner prep to get started.  I have a large Tupperware container with no lid - the "garbage bowl" - that I keep on my counter to hold kitchen scraps, i.e., the outer leaves of heads of lettuce, cabbage, carrot and potato peels, egg shells, that kind of thing.  Part of my daily routine is dumping that bowl into my compost bin when I play in the garden.  

Dual chambers
Easily put waste in one chamber, and remove compost from the other.

My compost bin is a dual chamber, tumbler style, which gives me ready-to-use organic matter to amend my soil with in about 4-6 weeks.  It's a perfect size for a small yard, the best thing is, I don't need to buy fertilizer for the garden anymore.  With two sliding doors (one for each chamber), it's easy to add waste or remove compost.  And because it's a tumbler, all you have to do is give the thing a spin, which mixes things thoroughly for faster decomposition and there's no worry about critters or smell from having an open bin.

I'm able to feed my veggie and flower beds organic matter throughout the growing season, solid, slow-release nutrition from kitchen scraps and yard waste.  In the winter, I still feed my compost bin, which will generate a lot of 'black gold' even during the cold months, to amend the soil in my veggie and flower beds in the spring.

Composters aren't expensive either, with prices starting at $20 and up.  That beats buying chemical fertilizers and bags of compost!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Spring photo
43-gallon composter fully loaded with black gold for spring planting


Jimmy John’s is Spicing Up Summer with a Fiery New Line-Up Guaranteed to Ignite Your Tastebuds

Jimmy Chips® Are Going Where They’ve Never Gone Before 

With just a few days left before the unofficial start of summer, Jimmy John’s is raising the heat, debuting three brand-new offerings – the spicy Firecracker WrapFirecracker Jimmy Chips, and Confetti Cookie Sandwich, all available for a limited-time beginning Monday, May 20. Jimmy John’s is going where the brand has never gone before – officially taking their famous Jimmy Chips OUT of the bag and putting them IN a wrap. Guests asked and Jimmy John’s answered – the chips are in!

The centerpiece of this Firecracker feast is the Firecracker Wrap, the spiciest menu item Jimmy John’s has ever offered. This eye-catching wrap is bursting with flavor featuring a bright red jalapeno tortilla loaded with salami, turkey, fiery ghost pepper cheese, garlic aioli, Jimmy Peppers® and the pièce de résistance – Firecracker Jimmy Chips, custom created by the Jimmy John’s culinary team.

While Firecracker Jimmy Chips were first crafted as an ingredient for the new wrap, the chips are so good, they will also be available to order and enjoy on their own. Dusted in striking red, ghost pepper flavor, those who want to turn up the heat can enjoy the new limited-edition Jimmy Chips as the ideal side to any Jimmy John’s sandwich or wrap.

And because it isn’t a summer party without sprinkles, Jimmy John’s is tripling down on menu innovation to debut its first-ever double decker cookie – the Confetti Cookie Sandwich. This indulgent, summertime dessert features two sugar cookies packed with red, white and blue sprinkles, sandwiched together with rich buttercream frosting. The perfect sweet treat to balance the heat in the Firecracker offerings.

“At Jimmy John’s we’re always taking inspiration from our guests, whether it’s spotting sandwich hacks in our stores or listening to feedback through our social media channels,” said Kelly Morena, Director of Category Management at Jimmy John’s. “We know our guests have been adding chips to their sandwiches and wraps for years, and they’re always seeking bold new flavors from us. So, we created the Firecracker Wrap and Firecracker Jimmy Chips to give our guests what they’ve been craving. This combination is the perfect complement to summer, a season full of fun, excitement, and of course, heat!”

The Firecracker Wrap, Firecracker Jimmy Chips and Confetti Cookie Sandwich will all be available at Jimmy John’s locations nationwide for a limited time while supplies last, beginning Monday, May 20.

Pasta Dinner on the Cheap

Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli
Available at Aldi

I've really been into pasta lately, Carbonara, Baked Ziti, Shrimp & Pasta, Chicken & Pasta, simple Spaghetti dinners, and lately, easy-peasy Ravioli meals.

The convenience, low cost, and easy prep of pasta dishes is tough to beat, especially the tasty products Priano puts out.

Priano is a private label brand exclusive to Aldi, and they make a full line of Italian goods such as pasta, sauces, pestos, and even a dry-cured prosciutto, among other great products.  I recently reviewed the Priano Mushroom Ravioli (link below) and enjoyed it so much, that I picked up their Ricotta & Spinach version during my last shopping trip.

Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli
Creamy Ricotta & flavorful spinach in every bite

Super convenient, the meal only took about 8 minutes to prepare, heating the ravioli per the package instructions, and topping it with some leftover chicken strips, Priano Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  The pillows of pasta were nicely portioned with Ricotta and spinach stuffing and combined with the pesto, chicken, and Parmesan... Well, as I like to say, "It was Another Dose of YUM!" 

Priano makes a good ravioli! Costing me just $1.79 for an 8.8-ounce package, I'm giving Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  Convenient, fast, hearty, SUPER tasty, and Bachelor on the Cheap Wallet-friendly, like the mushroom ravioli, this Priano product is also very much a repeat buy.  Their pasta packs are faster than fast food.  They're tastier and cheaper too!  

$pend Wisely My Friends...


The Aldi visited on this occasion is located at 8011 E Kellogg Dr, Wichita, KS 67207.   If you haven't had the opportunity to check out their pasta section, it's worth a look-see.

Related: Food Review: Priano Mushroom Ravioli

Related: Food Review: Priano Pesto Sauces from Aldi