Friday: Forgot I'd told Bess to come over today so we could discuss Josh's home school agenda and my part in it. I am glad I got myself busy right away that morning and had done all but the vacuuming in the main room.
Josh and I worked on two or three things this morning before Bess arrived. I guess we spent about thirty minutes working. Then he watched a video on the Kindle (actually learned something too...He told Bess and I all about it and taught us something we didn't know). Later I was pleased to see that I was on target with my 'sample' teaching this morning, because all of what we did was in a workbook his Gammy had sent him.
Sat on the back porch and blew bubbles with Isaac while Josh watched his nature video.
Looked over last week's menu and realized I'd not made three items on it. But I did kind of sort of stick to it. I made soup, but used a jar I'd frozen earlier last month. We had meatballs, too...in the soup!
We had salad leftover last night and I told John I'd eat it today. "Will you?" he asked. "I will if it's made already like this..." I replied. I added croutons, cheese, and some crisp fried Turkey Spam strips. It was a pretty good salad. A reminder to me that it's soon going to be salad eating season if we can find lettuce in the stores. I had to settle for ice berg this time around when shopping at Aldi but county myself lucky to find there was plenty of that.
Puttered about the yard after Bess left and did a little weeding, a little spreading of the rest of that bag of mulch, a little cutting away dead growth from last fall.
Swept the kitchen again. The boys shoes got soaked walking across the field and they tracked in more dirt than you'd imagine even though they remove their shoes at the back door. Rufus was pretty wet too this morning. I can't imagine why any of them were so terribly wet as Sam and John have kept a nice wide path mowed between the two yards and both yards are well cut. I have a sneaking suspicion that dogs and boys might not stay on the path...
Took a dish of Tikka Masala from the freezer, a single serve portion I'd put away last month. I let it thaw and had that for supper tonight. John will eat hot dogs when he comes in from work this evening.
Saturday: We had leftover biscuits from supper on Thursday. I cooked sausage patties and discovered there were just six in the box, so cooked them all. I set two aside to have for pizza topping today.
Decided to make a pizza today. I'm going to try out my pizza stone for the first time. Ok...disaster. No I didn't break my stone but my pizza wasn't pretty...I need a pizza peel or flat cookie sheet I can make the pizza on and slide off onto the stone. I tried using one of the flexible plastic cutting boards with cornmeal under the dough but it sort of rolled and then only with the help of a spatula...On the other hand, I think I could make calzones fairly easily. final note: I am so impressed with how the stone cooks pizza!
Read for one hour this afternoon...I started Emma.
Meals: Sausage Biscuits
Mongolian Beef, Rice, Broccoli and Cucumber
There was plenty of the beef leftover. I think I'd like to serve this with a sort of pickled
carrot/celery/onion/cucumber. The beef is so heavy that it really needs that lighter vegetable as a side.
Sunday: I meant to get a great deal done today but it ended up being bits and pieces of things and only meals were completed. Some days go just so.
I woke a little bit later this morning and so I hurried through a shower and then made our bed before I left the room.
I'd planned Oatmeal for breakfast. It was late enough when I came out of the room to warrant starting it right away and though I meant to sip coffee while making the pot of oatmeal, the coffee ended being lukewarm and I had to reheat in microwave. I hate doing this as it changes flavor of the coffee.
As I picked up John's breakfast dishes (we often eat breakfast in separate areas unless we've something really special), I'd put a cup of tea to steep. I mentioned to him my desire for him to spray weed killer on the very end flower bed, where privet had seeded and was all sprouting. I believe that is the area where I got into poison last year and I'm not eager to repeat that experience. He surprised me by getting up and going out right away, so I grabbed up the shopping bags that had been in the house since last Wednesday to put into my trunk and then went to move my three big pots from the end bed.
In for a penny right? I moved the wagon back onto the porch. Isaac had wanted to play with it on Friday and so it was left at the back steps. I took out the compost which meant wheeling out the other old trash can which I meant to repurpose into my next compost bin. I had to empty the things I'd put in it into the shed...
And next to the shed is that little planting bed I thought I'd use as a small garden. It was full of newly grown weeds to I started weeding it as I walked down the side of the shed. I finally made my way to the back with the trash can and emptied the compost can into it.
I came indoors and found my tea was warm but definitely not the hot cup I'd anticipated. I won't reheat tea in the microwave at all...So I just gulped it down while warm. I have to say I found the whole of my morning warming liquids totally unsatisfactory this morning!
Started clearing up kitchen and prepping supper foods while music service ran on tv this morning, then I settled down with John to watch the sermon.
I went back to kitchen to clear up my mess from prepping supper and John asked about lunch. I did have a plan but had done no prep work towards that meal. He wanted to go out and work and I urged him to go ahead. I said I'd call him in about 1pm and started prep work on that meal.
I had a small window of time after I was done, so I settled to read my Bible for the day.
Called John in and we had our lunch.
I was thinking of starting another task and John headed back outdoors. He called, "Here comes Sam..." I gathered things I meant to send home with him. I had a little treat for the boys He had asked if I had ginger root and lemon. I keep both in my freezer so I always have some on hand. He stayed and talked a good bit. John had finished his task and came indoors and sat down to chat with us. By the time Sam left I realized I was done. I hadn't done much but I was tired.
Meals: Oatmeal, Banana
boiled eggs to go into this and made extra for John to snack on
Kielbasa, Pierogi with caramelized onion, Cabbage
quite a lot of this left. John asked for the sausage a a breakfast meat but I've got hot dogs
Monday: What a long day it has proven to be but a very rewarding one overall.
Must ask...Is anyone else experiencing sleep disturbances? Mine has manifested not as inability to sleep (nor to oversleep as many have mentioned doing) but as repetitive dreams in which I become increasingly frustrated and wake up tense and overtired. It's happened four night in a row now. I truly do feel wrung out each morning when I wake.
Well I got up early when John left the bed this morning because I knew it was my first day of home school with Josh and I figured rightly I'd get little done while he was here. So I stripped the bed and our bathroom and washed that laundry while I made our breakfast. I'd put a pound of kidney beans to soak last night and put them into the crock pot to cook. I did my Bible study. I unloaded the dishwasher and remade the bed and was washing my face when I heard Josh come across the back porch.
And so we began...
I'd had the idea that we might get a lot accomplished in our little home school session and we did and we didn't. Josh worked pretty well. He doesn't like to discover he's doing things wrong but with encouragement he kept at it and really he did do well. He did a bit of math and a bit of reading. He worked on some of his school papers and in his workbook. I encouraged him to take a break after we'd been working about 40 minutes. I'd stumbled on a nature program about the Blue Jay and thought he might be interested in that.
We walked outdoors and I hung up clothes to dry while he petted Misu who adores him. This is really something because Misu generally bats children away but she was purring for Josh. We discussed various things then came indoors and he had a snack.
Then we did a bit more work and listened to "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" and we were done. Home School Day 1 was over. After letting him play for a few minutes, I sent him home about lunch time.
Well it was our lunch time, too. I pulled a can of chicken from my pantry to make chicken salad. This was a 12 ounce can of chicken from Aldi and it was really very good! Not too salty as some canned meats tend to be at all.
I also mixed up some instant vanilla pudding and then made a quick Banana Pudding out of two bananas that had gotten ripe. Once they have a few sugar spots, John won't touch them. I'd planned to make Bran muffins and had my recipe out but for some reason, I recalled that John had mentioned banana pudding. I've said before he seldom ever asks for anything special so when he does make a comment about something in particular I do try to make it. With a four serving box of pudding, 2 bananas are just right. I had vanilla wafers in the pantry. I made a three egg white meringue to top the pudding and slid it under the broiler. I started the chicken salad...
And blackened my meringue. Not so badly we couldn't eat it but it definitely wasn't the prettiest.
We had our lunch. I cleaned up the kitchen then settled to do my math work and then worked on the bill box and checkbook. I brought clothes in off the line and folded them. I sat down to begin computer work and John brought in the mail which brought a little more work on the bill box. I decided that pedicure needed to be done and then John came in from working on his project and said he had to go to town for mower gas. I offered to ride along, only because I knew how much he didn't want to go, but really I wanted to just stop.
I felt gone inside, to the point of tears. This was puzzling to me because in looking back over my day nothing had been particularly difficult or tedious. It had been a good day overall. I can only lay my desire to cry down to overall atmosphere. By atmosphere I don't mean that inside my home but that of the world at present.
On the ride into town I noted that our neighbors have done a lot of yard work since our last trip out. Every home looked neat and pretty. Town was deserted, looking more like a Sunday afternoon than the first day of the week. Even the gas station which is generally a pretty busy place was deserted. It was just 4:30p.m.
Back home John cleared up his work zones. I moved some fallen branches that blew down in the wind last week before the cold came in. Once indoors, I started our supper. I'd drained the kidney beans earlier. I overcooked them and they got very soft, but for my supper plans it worked fine.
I used Brandy's Prudent Homemaker Black Bean Burger recipe. Let me urge you to try this one! The liquid smoke is the game changer in this recipe. I'd looked over several recipes but most added not only bread crumbs but flour or almond flour. I felt that was overkill. What I ended up with was a patty that held together, got crusty on the outside and was like a tender beef patty in texture. I used the three egg yolks from the eggs I'd separated to make the meringue. I served our Burgers with a Chipotle Mayonnaise, Lettuce and Tomato, Cheese Slices. I didn't do sides tonight. I was being very carb conscious to be honest. In hindsight I might could have done home fries with this meal and been just fine. In future I might choose to serve this with a big salad instead of just lettuce and tomato on the burger. But the key to this whole paragraph: I WILL be making this again and again. It's that good!
I put two 2-cup packages of cooked kidney beans into the freezer. We also have one and half of the burgers made tonight leftover (John like them well enough to go for seconds). I think I now have enough leftovers for lunches the rest of the week.
About liquid smoke...I started keeping this on hand when we gave up eating bacon and ham. I didn't miss the pork, but I did miss the smokiness that those meats imparted to 15 bean soup, red beans and rice, etc. You only need perhaps a 1/2 teaspoon at most of the liquid smoke to give you all that lost flavor, so a bottle lasts a long time and keeps well on the seasoning shelf.
Meals: Cheese Toast
Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Chips
Kidney Bean Burgers, Fixin's (bread, pickle, tomato, lettuce, cheese)
Tuesday: Woke early this morning and got up right away. I really have been tempted to stay abed and sleep but it does seem that I am busier than ever most days and a late start just means I have to work later into the day. I have my routine you see. I like to do housework and yard work in the mornings and then have writing time in the afternoons. Here of late I've not been getting to writing time until after supper most evenings. I'm don't think as well and I'm prone to get distracted by whatever John is watching on television especially if he puts on a Mudlarking video.
Curious about Mudlarking? It seems to be English, at least what we've watched thus far has been, and they go dig in fields or along the river beds and find all sorts of interesting things from Roman times to the last century. You must purchase a license to do it and there are different levels of licenses. I'd never heard of it until two weeks ago and I won't say how many videos I've watched since then.
Well today's post is not about mudlarking. No indeed! Today I got up early, made the bed right away and got dressed. Then I had my coffee in my chair in the kitchen while I scrolled through Instagram. This is the only time of day I go on Instagram unless I'm posting a picture of something myself.
I made Buttermilk pancakes for breakfast and made them larger than usual. They were soooo good! My fridge has so much in it at present that I have a hard time finding things. I'd completely forgotten the strawberries I bought last week, which I'd put in a glass jar. The jar was pushed to the back of the bottom shelf. I had dug in to find another item last night and there was the full quart of strawberries. I pulled them to the front of the shelf so I'd remember to use them. I served my pancake this morning with a topping of sliced berries, and a big dollop of Greek yogurt for the added protein. Oh my goodness but that was delicious. I picked up the idea from a Vegan blog (she typically uses a coconut yogurt).
After clearing up breakfast, I sipped tea while reading my Bible. Then I contemplated what I might do for the day. I could easily have found work indoors and meant to but I really want to plant flower seeds and I cannot until I finish that corner bed. So I headed outdoors and did a lot of weeding and then I picked up all of Maddie's hair that had stuck to the mulch in the other flower bed. I put this in two piles on the ground and was going to get the wagon but I started filling a pot with soil from other pots so that I could repot a Dianthus I'd bought last year. My other Dianthus are so pretty and full of blooms but that little pot was just suffering.
Well, that was my last job. I forgot all about picking up the weeds and the hair and came indoors and called Mama. I'd been putting off calling her for various reasons but I hadn't heard from her since last Wednesday. We had a nice conversation and just as I was winding up that rather long call (about an hour), John came in with his phone in hand and said "There are grandkids that want to talk to Gramma..."
It was a call from Amie. She'd put the phone on speaker and we all laughed and talked and had a grand time. All the family was at home, naturally, so I spoke to everyone at some point. That call too went on about an hour. John had given me the phone and gone outdoors to mow grass.
I did my math work, had lunch, placed an online order for Mama who'd been unable to find some necessary things at the grocery and then I thought I'd settle to write...but John came in from outdoors and was ready for his lunch, and Katie called and we talked a bit over an hour.
I'm not sorry about how my day has gone. It's been as good as medicine to talk to my children and Mama today.
Meals: Pancakes, Chicken Sausage
I had nachos using one of the Bean burgers from last night. John had a bean burger
with celery and carrots on the side.
Chicken Shawarma, Lemon Rice Pilaf, Roasted Asparagus
Just like the strawberries, I discovered the asparagus I bought last week. Use now, I say...
Note: If you were going to try this recipe (click on link) be aware that it is heavy on the spice (Not heat) and lemon juice. I expected something with plenty of flavor but this was a bit much. John never complains but he winced as he took each bite, so I know it was no hit with him, either. He disliked the Lemon Rice Pilaf (my own recipe can't fault anyone else there), but the chicken was just a bit much. If you do make the recipe I'd HALF the amount of spices used to marinate the chicken. I'd use less lemon in the yogurt sauce, too.
We do have chicken leftovers and we will eat them but I'll serve wrapped in a tortilla with plenty of cucumber and tomato and feta. John urged me to keep the yogurt sauce so we'll serve it with the leftovers but anything left after that is going to be tossed. I'm really doing my best NOT to waste food but hoo boy! Some things we just don't need...
Wednesday: Well...This day got away from me entirely but it was spent in a most lovely way. First we hurried to get ready to go to the bank and do mail and pick up a few essential items at the stores. Yes, stores, as in multiple stops, were all local and all precautions were taken.
First stop was the dollar store in town for pet food. Bess asked for paper towels but there were no paper products on the shelf at all. I don't know how your store might be but our local Dollar General is a tight space. I did my best to avoid others but there were a few who just didn't bother with social distancing at all, nor were they wearing masks. I sanitized my hands and my cart before going into the store, wore a mask as President and Surgeon General had urged us to do. No it wasn't a medical mask but it was one made especially by rules given. One of the Mennonite girls had made it for John's job and he'd already brought it home and washed it.
I got Easter cards for the kiddos and washable markers and glue sticks for Josh's projects for tomorrow. I found carrot/blue lake green bean/zucchini seeds. John was chatting with the Fed Ex man across the parking lot when I came out. More hand sanitizing...
Next stop was the drive thru at the bank. Our bank only deals with customers through the tubes, there are no windows and no walking in.
Then to the post office where John walked inside to drop off mail and chatted with someone he doesn't know at all. More than acceptable social distancing was done but really I think both men were just flat starved for conversation from someone, anyone, other than whom they are in social isolation with. No, John didn't know the man...Yes he was fully covered and sanitized.
A stop at the auto parts store where John checked for paper towels and found a small supply so he purchased only one packet. He got some needed mower or car part or something or other. He stood about and talked to the guy who runs the place. He does know this man from years of doing business in that store. More sanitizing when he came back to the car.
Then to the grocery. I picked up 3 tomato plants and a single plant of bee balm. I found brown rice (!) and got three pounds, as there was plenty of it on the shelf, a whole cut up chicken that is carrageenan free and got a gallon of milk for the little boys. There was only one other customer in the store with me, also wearing a mask and we both veered hard if we saw the other coming. The local grocery does have nice broad aisles and I appreciated that the gentleman was doing social distancing.
Very impressed with the 'clear barrier' put up in this small town grocery. Impressed because it's ingenious. No hard plastic shields but clear shower curtains hung with s-hooks and fishing lines, strapped to the counter. There's a slot at one end where you can put groceries on the conveyor belt and the bagging area is open so you can pick up your things. Of course the card reader is outside the plastic, too. The barrier reaches from well above the cashiers head. I should think it is very effective.
More sanitizing. When we arrived home, we both stripped as soon as came in and tossed clothes into the washing machine, then we washed our hands, arms and faces with soap and water.
Came home and totted up the checkbook. Our little outing cost us a chunk of change, but as John pointed out which of it would we put back? We didn't stock up on snacks or anything that felt impulsive.
Bess and Isaac came over before I had finished putting things away. Katie and Caleb came in at almost the same time. In discovering that Bess needed some personal feminine items and was out of paper towel, Katie went back home and got those things for Bess as she had a good supply of both. She even brought Bess back a bar of chocolate. Bess loved having time with Caleb and Isaac demanded I give him all my attention.
Lunchtime rolled around and I had a house full of folks or so it felt after a week with none but John here! Well I had plenty of leftovers which I transformed and that turned out super yummy. I know a meal is a success when everyone at the table keeps 'mmmming' their way through the food.
After Bess and Isaac left to return home, Katie cut her dad's hair and trimmed mine. I asked if she felt she could cut my hair next time. I'm not sure in three weeks that salons will be open. This idea makes John a lot more nervous than me. He pointed out my pickiness...and I am. But Katie has done her own hair for years and this is just a standard pixie cut, not anything fancy. As I told John when he asked thrice if I was sure, "Hair always grows back. But I'll look a fright sure enough if I have to go too long with out getting it cut!"
My little bubby boy is so heavy that my back aches after he leaves but he's so sweet I wouldn't bypass holding him...He thinks I'm the funniest Gramma ,ever. He laughs and smiles at me. By the way, Aunt Bess is pretty hilarious, too. Truth told I think he just likes women! And there was no lack of hugs and sitting on my lap from Isaac either. I do love all my little boys dearly.
I found myself writing quite late today and suppertime rolled around quickly. I do have a plan but it's a seat of the pants plan because supper was meant to be what lunch was. It seems only reasonable that supper will be what was planned for lunch...
Meals: Cheese Eggs, Cinnamon Rolls
Rolls from Freezer
Mongolian Beef, Pickled Carrots, Cucumber, Green Onion and Tortillas, and Orange Quarters Katie pickled the carrots and that was perfect for these meat rolls
Hot Dogs, Leftover Pierogi and Cabbage
Thursday: How I have been longing to just sleep in of late! Well none of that this morning, as it was Josh's school day with me. I'd been busy last night finding bunny themed things. Josh doesn't really associate Easter with rabbits in any form, as he's always been told why we celebrate Easter, but I thought, given that he'd been so delighted with the Resin rabbits I pulled from the shed the other day that he might enjoy use eggs and rabbbits in our lessons today. I had a couple of math sheets where he added or subtracted with eggs. There was a cute little reading comprehension with a poem and a color by number Easter Basket. I'd looked up fun facts videos about the Eastern Cotton Tail rabbits which are in plentiful supply here. I got out the tape measure and we measured his ears to see how they measured up against a rabbit's ears. And then I laid it down on the floor so he could see how far a rabbit could hop in one leap and he practiced jumping as far as he could. He worked hard and quick today and I was all set to give him more tasks to do but he asked if he mightn't watch an episode of Peter Rabbit so I let him. He went home quite happy. Bess sent me a video of him eating lunch and telling her all about what he'd learned.
Lunch time for John and I and then there were chores to finish up and supper to prep and I told John I'd be sitting down to get some writing work done this afternoon. When I finally finished my work, he went off to mow Sam's yard as Sam's mower is out of commission until a part arrives. I indulged in watching an episode of Jacques and Julia and then Mary Berry. I'm reminded all over again that one of the things I absolutely loved about Jacques Pepin is that many of his recipes are frugal...or he drops frugal hints all through the program. Yesterday's episode was about salads and he took off the 'tough' outer leaves of a head of Boston and the romaine too and said "Put them in the soup pot! Don't throw them out!" I recall his saying that his mother did that and that she kept a permanent pot of soup on the stove into which she'd toss various odds and ends of things and they had soup every day and it was always tasted different, because something new had been added since the last meal.
Words with John...I've noticed more and more of late we are having little eruptions. I've no idea what he thought of as he mowed but I'll wager there was some sort of anxiety of worry niggling at him, while I myself kept thinking how tired I was all through my alone moments yesterday. I'm afraid when he snapped at me, I snapped right back. I've never been one to be offended right off at someone else's attitude but boy I was as sharp as he was right off. The evening was more polite but I reckon from what I'm hearing and seeing here and there that the tensions of the times are hitting all of us in some way.
Friday: Fell into bed last night and went right to sleep. I slept until at least 5am before getting up for a 'senior' moment and John was up right behind me. He does amuse me no end, because the whole little episode prompted him to sing a parody on a song he was playing two days ago...Off the top of his head at 5am fresh out of sleep! I grunted my appreciation of it but I was happy to go right back to sleep and slept until 8:30 this morning.
The usual sorts of pre-Sabbath things have been done: the house is clean, the fridge has been sorted out, the laundry is hanging to dry and will be folded and put away before end of the day. I've also weeded a portion of a flower bed, pruned some of the plants that I overwintered, dug up some iris that Bess admired and asked if she might have a portion of and oh lots and lots of other small tasks that equaled a morning filled with work.
What I haven't done yet is formulate a plan for supper tonight nor planned weekend meals or taken anything out to thaw for them. That's the very next thing I shall do as soon as I post this off.
My head aches from being outdoors with the pollen. That is standard this time of year. We should soon be past this season as most every tree surrounding us is now green and casting shade on the ground about it. If you don't stand in the wind outdoors but just look out the windows it does appear it ought to be quite warm out there but it is not and the breeze has a bit of 'bite' to it, though it's not really that cold when it ceases to blow. I noted on the weather app that I ought to bring in the potted plants and tomatoes and bee balm tonight as it's going to be quite cool, likely our last really cool morning for months to come.
Now I shall hurry and publish this so that I might get busy with meal plans. I want to keep things simple as I can but also a wee bit festive since it's a holiday weekend even if it is just us two. I'd thought way back in February when I was looking ahead that I'd have all my family here this week, but then I expect everyone else did, too. However, I'm determined to get a little fun from this weekend even if it's no one but us. Debating if a bunny cake would please me...
What did you do this week to stretch meals and fill your days?
Meals: One pot Sausage, Egg, Potato dish, Toast
Leftover makeover: Chicken Gyros (on Tortillas) with cucumber/tomato/feta and yogurt sauce. Liked leftovers tremendously. Still a bit spicy but really nice madeover. (C) Terri Cheney