Food and Drink

The Corona Diaries Day 6 - Not So Sick Day

Today the ear was better, but we took it easy in the morning. Harper asked again to do yoga - yay! So glad she's loving Cosmic Kids. And I love that she said on the first day "She's from England!"

Biscuit supervised.

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Yoga in the books, she said her ear hurt a bit so gave her more motrin. Then she got to watch tv for an hour with a breakfast of chamomile tea and green apples. I then went for my own long walk which was so nice. Get out in the clean fresh air.

Biscuit is a long cat.

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Later, Harper got to choose between art, math or language arts. She chose art first with Kurt and they did alcohol inks. I was in my office dealing with the rest of our lives. Not clear who was in charge of the class.

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Today was also clean house day! Bringing back Home Ec to school. Harper helped a bit with all of it and we all learned to appreciate our housekeeper even more than we usually do. (She's being paid to stay at home during this wacky time.)

Biscuit again with the Supervision.

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By the way, Willoughby is here too, but has had a terrible case of feline acne and we've had to give her special medicine which she freakin HATES so she keeps to herself a lot.

Lunch happened with ramen, kamaboko and hard boiled egg. Surprise-two yolks! Harper said it meant she would be lucky for five days. Cool!

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After lunch was Math with Prof. Frey and again the table sitting appears to be the key to good math studies. Following Math Class was AP Try On Mom's Fancy Shoes. She nailed it. It was pretty cute then I looked the picture of her in which I focused on the silver shoes and man oh man, she already looks like a model with that pose.

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Awww, shoe-heart.

The rest of the day included language arts, playing video games and having snacks. Before dinner we went on a walk in more sensible shoes and waved at neighbors.

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Things have been okay, but it's not always easy or fun, that is for sure. I was doing tax prep while Harper and I did language arts. Harper really puts in the work which I appreciate. Don't get me wrong, she doesn't go way above and beyond, but she focuses and gets it done. Can't ask for more than that.

As for me, my temper is kinda short, my nerves on edge often. I'm working on breathing through it but every morning I wake up with my inner cheek rubbed raw from the teeth grinding while I sleep. It's worse than it's been in a long time, the teeth grinding. Glad I have my sexy night guard. I make sure to get outside every day, have time to myself for at least half an hour here and there, even just to play stupid candy crush on my phone. God it's relaxing.

How are you all holding up? We have weeks if not months more to go. I plan on going to the hardware/nursery store to get plants to put in the garden. Tomatoes, etc. A good activity with bonus food down the line!

One day at a time, my friends, one day at a time.

 

 

 


The Corona Diaries Day 5 - Sick Day

Last night Harper woke up crying at about 11pm with an earache. She cried and cried and cried. My theory is that half of that was unexpressed emotional stress about all these changes. Poor thing. I gave her motrin and water and read to her for a bit and she felt better and went to sleep. It was about 11:30 or 12. She woke up at 6:15 this morning and napped a bit this afternoon. Hopefully she'll get a good long sleep tonight.

We do talk to her about what's going on, that it's serious and we are serious about doing all the right things, that it's going to be a big challenge, but we will be okay. I try to ask her about her feelings and share some of mine (But not all. I'm not a monster!)

So Day Three of homeschooling was a sick day. Sweet girl did do another yoga session (she asked to do one!), then got to watch Netflix for a bit as it was a sick day. She ate apples and had hot chocolate.

I enjoyed that down time with a lovely pot of tea.

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I attended to household business, bills and calling the doctor for Harper's ear and such. Kurt was out golfing - I know I know, it sounds nutty, but out in the wide open and easily staying far from the other players sounded good. On his way home he stopped at Vons for more apples and cucumbers and parchment paper and potato chips. Many things were empty but many things were still very much available and it wasn't too crowded. We got a starbucks treat as well (Biscuit was jealous). Kurt took a silkwood shower after all that outdoors/among people stuff.

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Harper had a doctor's appointment at 2:30 so we hung out and ate lunch then played Uno (aka math practice with the Biscuit assist) on our bed.

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It was nice to drive around, traffic was fine, but busier than I thought it would be. There were cautions galore at the Dr.s office, which is good. It took no time to get seen, which was even better. Harper got a strep test just to be overly cautious, negative in the office, we'll get confirmation tomorrow. For now just take the motrin as needed.

Harper proved she is genetically related to me and my mom by doing THIS all on her own. God I love looking through drawers in doctors waiting rooms...!!!

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Harper was perky in the afternoon so Prof. Frey had math class ready for her after the doctor. She did great. I think the alternate seating options are helpful!

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Later she distracted herself with lemon picking and while I'm glad she found something to do on her own, I was really bummed she picked all those lemons as I had planned to leave them on the tree and use them as needed. :-( Luckily there are still a few on the tree.

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So.

Thursday is Lemon Zest and Juicing Day!

She had a nap while I made a lovely leftover rice/chicken/cheese casserole for dinner with enough for more tomorrow and a bunch for the freezer.

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Quiet dinner, a bit more tv and now bedtime with a slug of motrin for the girl and hopefully a good night sleep!

Fortunately, fresh lemon goes well in a vodka tonic.

 


The Corona Diaries Day 4 - Diorama Day

Tuesday, St. Paddy's Day. We didn't find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but dang, we got a rainbow! Small blessings.

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I got to write more this morning, Harper woke up a little after 7:00am. Clearly she needed the sleep after being up so early yesterday. It was good to have lots of quiet time to myself and put some words down in a creative fashion.

Before school started I put on my walking shoes and went for a lovely cold march through the neighborhood. I was thinking I might pop into Trader Joe's for 2 small things on the way then came around the corner and saw this:

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I didn't get any details but am guessing people were only being let in a few at a time. I am very happy to wait for my small not very necessary items.

I came home to find school was gearing up. Harper started with more yoga and then as I made some breakfast, she and Kurt started math class. I audited. Then they went for a walk as I hit the showers.

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Afterward was break time then onto The Diorama! Harper and I worked on it with my trusty new glue gun. I didn't burn myself at all and Harper only did once. Success!

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There was some lunch and more chillax time, followed by Language Arts. We went through her workbook and then the worksheets which we forgot yesterday. Harper didn't really want to do the work sheets at first, but then she started rolling I just sat back as she plowed her way through them. Rock on, girl.

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Then she got to watch Frozen 2 while I dealt with grown-up stuff, tax prep, paperwork, etc.

Then the diorama beckoned her again and she finished it before dinner with supervision and some assistance from Kurt. I was amazed and pleased as I told her she could do more this week. But no, DONE! Well, not 100% done. Still needs the facts and description.

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While they glue-gunned away, I baked a water cake that someone had posted on Facebook. A cake made without milk or eggs or butter. I was dubious but decided why not give it a go. I had wanted to make Irish soda bread but didn't have buttermilk or cream or even white vinegar to make faux buttermilk. Gravity was on my side today, no mishaps.

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It's different. Definitely benefited from the lemon curd I had in the fridge. The flour I used was not All Purpose, but a stronger one I had from Grist and Toll. You can taste the flour a bit too much. There is lemon zest in it, but not nearly enough. I would play with this cake recipe when I have more flour. I do have some coconut flour in my baking drawer, I should find something to make with that.

I had a nice call with my sister in San Diego and texted with friends around the country. It's nice to be in touch in this wacky time.

Second school day in the books. It went really well, though there were a few moments of WHY IS EVERYONE IN MY OFFICE RIGHT NOW??? on my part, but more in my mind than out loud.

We are working on a field trip idea! More on that later...

 


Happy New Year!

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It's been two months. Two crazy months. But now I can finally say Happy New Year! and mean it.

December is always a whirlwind of Harper Birthday and Christmas and holidays and stuff and stuff. Then January rolled around with a teacher's strike and some planned medical stuff for Kurt that was stressful. It all went very well and he's fine - hooray!

As always, I have some goals and some plans. January included two goals: No drinks and No buying stuff on Amazon. I made it to January 11 without drinking. Ha! January 12 saw an afternoon kid's party at an indoor trampoline park and OMG that drove me to drink when I got home. Then the 13th was my birthday and Kurt had a friend in town and we all went out to a fabulous restaurant on my birthday and the cocktails and wine were so yummy. Why did I want to not drink in the first place? More of a reset, really. And while I definitely had a lot of wine during the teacher's strike and medical issues week, I stopped again and have just had a beer or a glass of wine on the weekends since then. And that works just fine. 

As for Amazon, it was really more about stopping the impulse buying. Being conscious of what I was buying and asking myself - do I need this or just want it? Can I make do with what I already have? (98% of the time YES!) It's been a very good change in my thinking and I want to continue being this conscious about what I buy/what I spend. I've gotten better at figuring out how to fix things and actually FIXING things instead of buying new. Or making things like the gauzy flowered canopy in Harper's room*. I am using the library instead of buying books (my biggest amazon pleasure) and am loving the library. I actually started the library using last fall and am so glad I got my head out of my butt and am doing that. It also helps when the book I want to read doesn't really hold my interest and I can just chuck it back to the library and not feel bad that I bought it and only got half way through. (Also, life is too short to finish books that don't spark your interest!)

The only actual 2019 Resolution I have made is: Wear a necklace when I go out of the house. I've accomplished that about 80% of the time and really enjoy it. 

For the rest of 2019 - Oh I have plans. Plans that I'm already moving forward on. Creative, juicy wonderful plans. If we are on Facebook or instagram or twitter together, you've seen some of my projects playing out! Keep watching!

What's new with you??

 

 

 

*I think I wanted this canopy more than Harper. I ALWAYS wanted something like it when I was growing up with fanciful thoughts of romance and castles. Harper doesn't seem to be a romance and castles type. Not at age 7, anyway...


5 MORE Things I Miss About England

I miss my commute. It wasn't always this route, maybe about 50/50. This route would often be a good 5-10 minutes faster than the main roads. This route would also mean a 5-10 beats per second increase to your heart rate. Some days there would be HUGE farm trucks coming at you. Some days a ton of other cars (with far more experience on these roads). Some days no oncoming traffic at all. 

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I miss Pret-A-Manger. Pret became known to me in 2006 when I went to London to work for about three weeks. It was the cheapest, best quality quick lunch or coffee place in Soho. I still love it to this day. Fantastic variety, lots of veggie options, hot food, cold food, kid sized food. I wish we had one here. 

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Speaking of good eats: Wagamama is also a big favorite. Lovingly referred to as "Snobby Noodle" by friends here who have spent time in London and love Wagamama as well, we were so pleased there was one in St. Albans. We must have eaten there at least every other week. Sometimes we'd order it in for lunch when I was working. (In my brief window of working.) My favorite was the Shiitake Donburi. Or the Vegatsu. Or any of the ramens. 

Dammit. Now I want some. 

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Moving on to dessert -- Bakewell Tarts. I'd never heard of them before this trip. (Astonishing) A tart made with raspberry jam and almond? DONE. I haven't looked for any here. I haven't learned how to bake it. YET. I asked someone at a cafe what a Bakewell Tart was. And they were so confused.

"It's a bakewell tart." 

"Okay but what's in it?"

"It's a Bakewell." 

Okay sold. 

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(picture by Brynn from Wikimedia Commons)

These horses who lived on our route to Harper's school. 

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I asked Harper if she wanted to live in another country again and she said yes. And I said, England? And she said, Yes! So. Watch this space. I'm going to figure out how to make that happen.

 

 

 

 

 


5 Things I Miss About England (An Incomplete List)

We lived in England for only four months and I miss it just about every day. Today I wanted a nice cup of strong black tea but didn't have any in the house. Plenty of Earl Grey and Jasmine green and chamomile and etc etc. But not any bog-standard* black tea. I had to order some from Amazon. Made me think of what else I've been missing! Here's a short list:

I miss the green! This was in the park behind out house and we walked there often. Soothing to the soul.

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I miss Waitrose! This was my last visit to our local Waitrose and I was so sad. Not sure why I loved it so much. A bit nicer than your standard Sainsbury's or Tesco, but not crazy fancy by any means. But they had this brand of prepared foods that we fell in love with. So YUM.

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I miss the tea. Good strong black tea. The Tea aisle in any grocery store in the UK is much more fascinating than our "coffee and tea" aisles in the states.

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I miss the pubs - Especially ones with excellent food and lovely gardens. Like this one - The Holly Bush. (Even better - it's in Potter's Crouch!) Pubs are family friendly, dog friendly, friendly friendly. It's a different type of place that we don't have an equal to here in the US.

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I miss school uniforms. I never went to a school that required uniforms, so this was a total novelty for me. They are so sweet! I know, I know, anyone who went to school in England is rolling their eyes at me. I loved shopping for these. 

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Gawd I can't wait to go back. Until then I have to get my fill with The Crown, British Baking Show and Doctor Who.

 

 *Bog standard is a phrase I learned there and love. I use it still, and always will. 

 

Note: Affiliate links included in this post.

 

 

 


New Favorite Breakfast-Overnight Oats

Preamble: I'm not really a food blogger. But I do like food very much!

My breakfast routine is pretty routine. Usually nonfat greek yogurt with fruit or berries and sliced almonds on top. Occasionally I'll have cereal, but that's kinda more like dessert in a way. (Even if it is made up of high fiber twigs and flakes.) I love oatmeal, but it's not cold enough for a big bowl of hot breakfast yet (I live in Los Angeles - go Dodgers!)

Overnight Oats have been on my radar for a while, but I didn't pay attention, thinking they were too prep heavy. Turns out I have idiotic thoughts and in fact they are SUPER EASY!

  • 1/2 cup rolled/old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk (of whatever kind of milk you like)
  • 1Tbs chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit
  • Put all that in a mason jar, stir well and refrigerate 5 hours or up to 5 days. When you go to eat it, stir well and add honey or syrup or fresh fruit or nuts. 

That's it! Here's my before/after shots. I like using frozen cherries in oatmeal or the yogurt/fruit combo. And almonds. Lots of almonds! PS - also kinda healthy for you.

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Note: Many of my links (and/or images below) connect you with Amazon Affiliates products. I write about things I love and use. I don't get compensated to write about them. (I'll tell you if I do.) However, if you do decide to click through and end up buy something, I'll get a little bit from that sale.

Mason Jars: 

 

Quaker Old Fashioned Oats:


Improv Cooking - New To Me

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Building an Improv Lasagna

I love to cook. I try new recipes, I buy cookbooks, I subscribe to emails for recipes. The food comes out well, I think, at least 9 times out of 10.

One thing I'm not great at is improv cooking - looking into the cupboards or fridge to see what's there and then whip something up. Following rules is something I'm better at. And one of my current goals is to be better at improv cooking!

Last night I took the leftover squash (butternut and zucchini) in the fridge and decided I could make a veggie lasagna. In my cupboard were boxes of whole wheat lasagna sheets (no boil style) I'd bought a while back but hadn't used. (I just looked at my amazon history and see that I bought the lasagna noodles in, ahem, 2015! Luckily the expiration is Dec. 2018. Guess who is going to be eating LOTS of lasagna before the end of the year??!)

Glancing at a few basic veggie lasagna recipes, I made a bechamel sauce (I did look at a recipe for that!) and built a decent lasagna. There was also mozzarella and parmesan in my fridge.

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Finished product

These days, with a shift in life and work priorities, I'm working harder than ever to save money and not just buy whatever I need the moment I think of something. Therefore, the improv cooking. Or better to call it the "USE WHAT YOU HAVE!!" method of cooking. In our pasta/rice drawer, there is a lot of both that need to be used. (Hint: Rice casseroles coming soon!)

The pasta sheets I bought were whole wheat and organic. (See images below to click on the affiliate link and try some for yourself.) Nobody really seems to notice the difference between regular and whole wheat these days, so I usually opt for whole wheat. 

As for the finished product? Not bad! I had sauteed the butternut and zucchini but the butternut squash went weirdly dark brown after the baking. Tasted fine, just looked, um, odd. Also, I think there needed to be more filling. It all went very flat. I'm still pleased with myself and I'll do it again. 

I used my trusty pyrex baking dish. I swear I used to have two of these, but can only find one....hmmmm. Maybe in a frenzy of "clean out all the crap!" I did away with one. Or maybe it lives at someone else's house now because I made something and took it for a potluck. Maybe I need to put this on my Christmas wish list. I like the glass better than a metal pan. I like seeing the layers cooking. 

I will continue to practice my Improv Cooking skills. Stay tuned for my next adventure, probably rice related!

P.S. Many of my links (and/or images below) connect you with Amazon Affiliates products. I write about things I love and use. I don't get compensated to write about them. (I'll tell you if I do.) However, if you do decide to click through and end up buy something, I'll get a little bit from that sale.

Click the image for Pryex dishes: 

 Click the image for Whole Wheat Lasagna (set of 6):


Homemade Kefir and Smoothies and Blenders

IMG_5455Whilst we were in England, I had three lovely visits with a friend I've known since high school. She taught me about making your own kefir for all that probiotic goodness and I've tried it now that I'm home. I had heard interesting stories on the BBC about how our microbiome may affect our physical and mental health. Fascinating stuff. Why not add it to a healthy diet? (Which I'm working on to make better habits!)

I decided to keep it simple, cheap, and cheerful to start in case I hated it. So I bought dry kefir starter and put it into milk. (The options are coconut water, juice or milk. I am not a fan of coconut water, thank you very much. With amount of coconuts I've peeled, cracked, drank and eaten as a kid in the tropics, I'm pretty much DONE with that.)(#islandgirl)

The flavor it creates is like a tart yogurt flavor in a creamy milky texture. I like it a lot. It's super easy: You put 1 quart of milk into a pitcher and one packet of dry kefir starter. Place a paper towel or coffee filter over the top, keep it in place with a rubber band and let it sit on your counter for 12-18 hours until the seeds bloom. Basically you know it's ready when the milk turns to cream and it has a lovely yogurt smell. Then you refrigerate and drink or make into smoothies or whatever you like, keeping 1/4 cup to start a new batch.

One very important step: once it's ready, blend or whisk it to smooth out the chunky bits. Because there will be chunky bits and that was an almost instant turn off when I poured out my first glass to drink. I quickly poured it back and texted my friend: What do I do with the chunks!?!?! 

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And the smoothie was good. But once I learned you can't kill the kefir with blending, I just give it a quick whisk in a glass before drinking it if I have no time for smoothies.

And putting it in smoothies is super yummy just like adding milk or yogurt. I tend to toss in whatever fruit is getting a bit too squishy plus some frozen fruit to make it cold. I also like to add shredded carrot and sometimes spinach if it's about to be past its prime. (The other morning I forgot the frozen stuff and have to say a lukewarm smoothie is not super great...lesson learned!)

IMG_5452Here is a ridiculous picture of my blender with peach, kefir, carrots, apple and banana. Crystal clear! LOL. Currently I have a GIANT Ninja blender. I was purchased in haste last year, but does come in handy for larger batches of smoothies and such. 

Oooh, random thought: I have about 1/4 cup of passion fruit juice that I squeezed myself when I made passion fruit curd a few weeks ago. (Post on that later!) I will put that in a smoothie soon! MMmmmmm. 

I'm giving it a shot, maybe it improves my mood? (Not that I need much help in that arena.) Maybe it improves my colon health? (Won't really know that until I get my next colonoscopy.) Maybe it improves my smoothy flavor? (Never a bad thing.)

No matter the result, I'll report back.

 

 

 

P.S. Many of my links connect you with Amazon Affiliates products. I write about things I love and use. I don't get compensated to write about them. (I'll tell you if I do.) However, if you do decide to click through and end up buy something, I'll get a little bit from that.