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Archive for the tag “pictures”

Day 114 of Isolation: Independence Day!

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I know there’s not much going on in this country to be truly proud of these days so here’s a picture of my kids from nine years ago when things were better:

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They were 9 1/2, almost 1, 11, 5, and 8 1/2.

This was probably the last time they were all home on the 4th and definitely the last time they let me dress them all up for pictures. I miss those days.

This year, three of them aren’t home and neither is my grandson. It’s just the youngest two, and the now-14yo doesn’t want to celebrate at all because she’s fed up with the attitudes of her fellow Americans*.

We’re not actually doing anything today. I’ll be cooking dinner later: steak sandwiches with fries and possibly mac & cheese. I was going to grill hot dogs, too, but then half the kids left and it looks like it’s going to rain so there’s no point. There’s apple pie for dessert and strawberries to much on during the day. Fireworks that shoot up in the sky (ie the cool ones) are banned in our town and all of the 4th of July celebrations have been canceled because of the pandemic. I’m sure some of our neighbors will still be shooting stuff off so I’ll be sitting on the porch watching.

That’s the extent of our holiday, though.

Hope everyone has a great day if they can in today’s volatile social climate.

*I don’t really blame her.

Day 102 of Isolation: Family and Fishie Friends

My oldest son came for a visit again. As usual, this gave me great anxiety as he’s been isolating with friends since the beginning because he has asthma and our cats cause his allergies to get out of control (and eventually trigger asthma attacks). Plus, having him here is just one more way to infect each other.

But he needed my help ordering anniversary gifts for his girlfriend. Their two-year anniversary is on the 4th, and he had a couple things picked out but needed access to my Paypal where my dad sent his graduation money. Instead of me doing the ordering on my phone with the links he sent and possibly screwing it all up then dying of guilt, I told him to come over, set it all up, and I’d enter the Paypal info.

That worked out well enough, although I’m worried his gifts won’t be here by next Saturday even with express shipping. I told him to have a backup gift to give her on that day just in case.

While he was here, his older sister insisted he take care of his fish tank which has been horribly neglected the last four months. The water was so green with algae, you could barely find the fish and all of the pretty, colorful fish he got for his birthday had all died. Despite being told they were all male when they were bought, he’s got quite a few baby fish in the tank that are still thriving.

So the two started taking the water out (it was absolutely disgusting) but then she had to go to work so I helped as best I could with my fatigue setting in. We got the tank cleaned up, the pump cleaned out (although we didn’t have enough new bits so had to reuse some of the old filters), and rinsed off all of the decorations.

I added some anti-algae stuff we got for the 14yos betta tank and hoped fort he best as we added clean water and put the fish back in. We also rearranged everything and put new rocks in.

The fish seemed a little confused, especially the big orange one that is very jumpy and just hides inside one of the structures most of the time. It doesn’t like that the other fish are now hanging around its house.

I don’t have pictures of the before but here are some of the after once the filter kicked in and cleared out the last of the green water.

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In the last one, you can kind of see the orange one (I don’t know its name) hiding inside the rocks. He usually goes underneath it where you can’t see him. He’s very anti-social.

Anyway, after getting the tank cleaned up, I decided to make dinner since he was here. I had some “carne picada” that my husband picked up the other day that I had planned to make some kind of steak tacos with, but I forgot I used all of the flour tortillas when I made enchiladas a couple weeks ago.

Instead, I just cooked the meat up like I would steak or hamburger with a ton of garlic, onion powder and a little Montreal steak seasoning then tossed in some sliced onions (we sadly had no green peppers). We ate it with swiss cheese on fancy hot dog rolls that were supposed to be for the 4th. So, makeshift Philly-style steak sandwiches. Had Kraft mac & cheese on the side with some leftover peas and some french fries.

It turned out really good. I wish I’d had two, but I’m supposed to be watching what I eat. After everyone except the oldest (she was at work) had some, there was enough for two sandwiches left. By morning that was gone. Oh well.

Will definitely be buying more of that cut for sandwiches.

All in all, it turned out to be a pleasant day.

Day 100 of Isolation: Father’s Day and Failures

One Hundred Days.

Ugh.

One hundred days of sitting around the house doing nothing. Which is kind of funny because all we ever do is sit around the house. For me, it’s because I literally don’t have the energy to do anything else; for the family in general, it’s because we usually don’t have the money or time.

Maybe that’s why this seems so much more extreme. Last year, we sat around for almost the entire year because my husband was injured and getting paid worker’s comp. It was just barely enough to cover our bills. There were no day trips to the coast, going to the movies or even driving to a state park for a hike (couldn’t afford the gas or the parking pass).

He went back to work in January, and the plan was to make up for it with visits to all of our favorite places including the coast. Despite my chronic fatigue, I managed to go walking most mornings along the Columbia River and do some writing. I was looking forward to doing that again this year.

And then COVID hit, and everything changed. Now we have a little extra money and gas prices are cheap as hell, but there’s nowhere to go. My fatigue has only gotten worse with my hypertension and can’t handle walking to the end of the block most days, let alone walking the two miles I averaged most days last summer. Besides, that park I used to walk is probably crowded with non-mask wearing idiots that seem to live in this town.

One hundred days of doing nothing with another hundred to look forward to. Maybe if my doctor can figure out what’s causing the fatigue and fix me up, it won’t be so bad. Then I could at least have energy to clean the garage and fix up the yard. Maybe we could paint like we had planned when we moved in almost four years ago.

Today is Father’s Day as well!

So wishing a Happy Day to my husband who has put up with me and our five crazy kids for 20+ years now. He’s just excited because our grandson comes home from his dad’s house this afternoon (he has Fridays and Saturdays off but the baby always heads over to his dad’s on Thursday afternoon, right before my husband gets home from work).

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One of my favorite pictures of him with our youngest daughter when she was 6 at Cape Horn, WA.

Also, Happy Father’s Day to my dad, I guess. I haven’t talked to him in years for reasons I won’t get into, but I hope he’s doing okay (my brother says his health is crap).

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From when he visited in 2013. Not sure where my oldest son was when the picture was taken.

Epic Failure

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My plan for dinner tonight was beef stew with homemade sourdough bread.

I took my starter out on Tuesday and fed it several times then last night added three cups of flour and some water to get ready to bake today. I even added a smidge more active yeast. Everything was looking good. Got up this morning, added the rest of the flour the recipe calls for, kneaded it and let it rise for four hours. Gothe dough shaped into rounds and let it sit for a couple hours.

My husband got home a little before 3pm which is when I started the stew. When I turned the instant pot on, I got the oven going. It was all working out well. The bread should have been done at about the same time as the stew.

And then it all went wrong. First I got a burn notice on the instant pot. So we had to empty and clean the bottom. Meanwhile, the first loaf of bread is already baking. The stew was mostly cooked just from getting up to pressure so we put it all back in and set it for 20 minutes cooking. I went and sat on the porch for a moment when I was struck with absolute panic at a thought: I forgot the salt when I added the extra flour!

And it was way too late to fix it. I go back inside and cut a chunk off the first loaf that was cooling at that point. And BLAH! It was awful. The recipe is literally just flour, water, yeast and salt. And I forgot the salt. So it was like eating flour. No flavor at all. I was devestated.

And then the instant pot beeped at me with BURN across the front. At that point, I was nearly in tears. I just wanted a nice meal for my husband since I don’t get special meals or anything on Mother’s Day (unless I cook them myself). I figured at least one of us should get something special once in a while. And nothing was going right.

Luckily, the stew was pretty much cooked after getting up to pressure twice, so I just added the frozen corn and peas and let it sit while the 2nd loaf baked. Which was so pointless because the bread was gross. My husband and some of the kids still ate it. Apparently my grandson loved it, but he’s one and doesn’t know any better.

I had saved back a cup of starter (possibly to give to my grandson’s other gramma) but instead I took it out last night and added the initial batch of flour and water you do the night before baking.

So tomorrow we will hopefully have edible sourdough loaves. If I remember the salt this time.

In the end, the stew turned out well enough that no one noticed the bread really. I was too tired and sore from cooking to even want to eat which is pretty common.

Day 98 of Isolation: Pizza Party!

Today is the last day of school for the 2019-2020 year. Finally. I have no idea if my kids turned in even half the work they were supposed to do but Owen got his high school diploma and Nora is heading to 9th grade, and Jack is… well, Jack. I think he learned some stuff. Maybe. He’s on to 5th grade next year.

To celebrate, I decided to flex my new-found knowledge of yeast baking and make homemade pizza dough.

Usually, when we make pizza at home we use these really great flat pitas we get at Costco or refrigerated pizza dough. I’ve never made dough from scratch because it requires yeast.

Well, since I can now make sourdough from scratch, why not pizza dough?

Of course, I’m low on active yeast, and it’s kind of hard to find. But I also had some rapid rise instant yeast that’s due to expire in February. So I looked up a recipe and found this one from Fleischmann’s which, funny enough, is not the brand of yeast I’m using.

I really like the rapid rise yeast, and the recipe was really easy to follow. I made two batches with the second using their garlic-rosemary variation.

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I managed to get two full-size pizzas (I guess they were 14″ or so), a few smaller ones, and two small strombolis (because we ran out of cheese, and I didn’t know what else to do with the last of the dough).

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That’s the one with the rosemary and basil with a garlic-butter wash on the edges. Did I mention the crusts were stuffed with mozzarella?

Look at how good this looks…

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They’re all pepperoni, sausage, onion, and green pepper because that’s all we really had, and I know everyone likes those toppings.

Here’s the thin crust I made for myself with the garlic-rosemary crust:

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We only have one pizza pan that is very old and blackened with age. Normally, we use it to bake cookies, lol. I used one of our cookie sheets to make my pizza (the white on top was the tiny bit of mozzarella I had left over–just tossed it on top when it came out of the oven).

Everyone raved about the pizzas, and they were really good, but oh, my god, was I exhausted. I think I started mixing the first batch around 3pm and didn’t get the last pizza out of the oven until 5:30pm. I wasn’t even hungry anymore.

That’s part of the problem with having a big family–one pizza is doable, but it’s not enough to feed everyone, so I’m stuck making extra servings while everyone else is eating just so everyone has enough to fill them up. There were about 5 slices left over plus 3 of my thin crust. And that was without my 18yo son at home (he could have eaten an entire pizza on his own).

I might try them again, but I’m going to have to find more yeast. I only have one packet left of the rapid rise (which I might try with this cinnamon roll recipe I found).

Day 94 of Isolation: Another Graduation

Today my youngest daughter “graduates” 8th grade. Normally, they have a ceremony at the high school with a dance after (in which case the rest of the family goes to Cold Stone Creamery to celebrate… it’s tradition!), but since the pandemic shut the schools in March and social distancing is a must, they did a drive-thru parade/graduation thing.

A lot of the schools in the area are doing them. The high school had a big parade through town last week and the elementary schools are doing them throughout the week (my 4th grader’s is on Thursday).

But today is about Nora who is officially a high schooler now!

 

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Seems like just last week she was starting kindergarten. Won’t be long before she’s an adult. I just can’t even anymore with these kids growing up.

Here she is on the first day of school back in August already looking too grown up:

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And bonus first day of kindergarten:

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They grow so fast.

No, I’m not crying… that’s just dust in my eyes.

Day 86 of Isolation: Happy First Birthday!

Wishing my grandson a very happy first birthday.

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I can’t believe an entire year has gone by already. And what a year.

Too bad, with everything going on and because this is the Pacific Northwest so it decided to rain the entire week, we weren’t able to actually do anything. It was just another lazy day around the house.

He was at his dad’s house in the morning, and when he got home, he was sleeping in his carseat (he’s been in a growth spurt, we think, because all he does is sleep).

My daughter posted these side-by-side comparisons of him the day he was born and his first birthday:

Hasn’t changed.

I didn’t get any pictures of him opening his gifts (I was frosting cupcakes). One of the other kids did, though, but hasn’t sent me any or posted them online. I’ll add some later when I see them.

We got him some chunky wood puzzles of jungle and forest animals, some letter magnets for the fridge, and a couple outfits. His mama got him some bath toys (that aren’t for the bath!) and I can’t remember what else. He really likes the bath animals.

It was a pretty typical birthday for our family–we don’t have the money for parties, decorations or lots of presents. It’s just a normal day with a couple small presents if you’re lucky followed by cake and ice cream.

He’s now entered my favorite stage of childhood–the toddler years (although he’s technically been toddling for months now). I can’t wait to see how his little personality develops this next year.

It’s obvious he’s going to be a total goofball. I mean look at him hamming it up already:

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Day 75 of Isolation: Sourdough Update

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I started the sourdough starter, and it’s been an adventure for sure.

First off, my large mason jar is not large enough so it kept bubbling up to the top and I would mix it to go down. I have no idea if this is what you were supposed to do, but I had little choice in the matter.

Then after dinner, my 14yo informed me that it exploded everywhere. I forgot to take a picture of this–it was quite the mess. This is all that is left of the disaster:

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My poor instant pot… so abused.

Anyway, after the mess, I separated the mixture into two large mason jars and left them overnight to see what would happen. At this point, I still hadn’t looked up the recipe and instructions I had saved from the post.

Which, I’ve found out, wouldn’t have been possible because they never got saved. I specifically copied them into a file because I knew it would be next to impossible to find the post and instruction again between everything that gets posted to the half dozen Facebook pages I follow. Sigh.

This morning, it had barely grown at all. I thought maybe I killed it overnight but then remembered I was supposed to feed it again before I put it in the fridge after 48 hours. So, I mixed half cup flour and half cup water and added it to the mixture, covered it and left it to sit again. It grew a little but nothing like yesterday. Hmm.

I then spent about 20 minutes trying to find the post where I originally read the comment then find the comment amongst hundreds. Which I finally did (thankfully) and this time made sure I saved the instructions.

Found out I was supposed to mix 1 cup of water with a half cup of water then put it in the mixture. Oops. Here’s Michelle’s instructions for day two:

Feeding your starter and getting it ready to use later or ready for baking.
Total time: 16-18 hours
Now that you have gotten your yeast starter started, you need to keep it going. With a new starter, I like to feed it at least a second time, (if not a third), before I set it in the refrigerator for later or start baking with it.
No matter what your plan, feed your starter. To do this, take a wooden spoon and stir your starter. It will be more liquidy than you remember. This is normal. Remove a little less than 1/2 of the starter (just eyeball it) and discard.
With the starter in your jar, mix in 1 cup of flour and a little over 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix so it’s combined. It will be doughy but not too dry. Cover with a paper towel secured with a rubber band again, let it rise again overnight at room temperature.
It will become dotted with gas bubbles and soon will be ready to use!

So, yeah… already messed it up. It now looks like this after sitting most of the day on the counter:

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I switched it to my other large mason jar that has a wider opening to fit my wooden spoon in. It’s grown some and isn’t discolored so I guess it’s okay? And it now has that slightly sour smell I assume it should have.

I’m going to let it sit out the rest of the day then feed it again before I go to bed then put it in the fridge tomorrow morning.

I only have two small loaf pans so I need to get something better if I want to actually bake bread. And probably more flour since my husband picked up chocolate chips and vanilla so my 14yo can make more cookies.

Day 73 of Isolation: Happy Memorial Day

It’s the unofficial start of summer and we’re still in lockdown. I actually pretty much forgot it was Memorial Day after I reminded my 9yo that he didn’t have school this morning. With everything going on, it’s hard to tell which day is which, let alone if one is a holiday. Plus, I’m depressed enough without thinking about soldiers that didn’t make it home from war.

I miss the days we lived in Coraopolis, PA. They had a huge Memorial Day parade that was the highlight of the summer really. We lived there for two years on the street the parade went down so we got a bird’s eye view without leaving our living room. Of course, we did go down to the street because what’s the point of a parade if you aren’t sitting on the curb.

Here’s some pictures from 2007.

They were so little and cute. I miss being able to get them dressed up and take pictures. I used put them in red, white and blue for Memorial Day and 4th of July; green for St. Patrick’s Day; orange and black for Halloween and red/pink for Valentine’s. They looked forward to their new shirts each year, but money dwindled and the shirts were less frequent. They outgrew the old ones and then just got too old to dress up if I was lucky enough to even have them around for a holiday. Sigh.

It’s hard to believe they’re all grown up now and one has a child of her own. This was just thirteen years ago. Seems like yesterday. Things were simpler back then.

I think the lockdown is finally getting to me.

Day 59 of Isolation: Mother’s Day Redux

I was in such a foul mood yesterday, but I did want to give thanks to my own mom who isn’t with me anymore. I miss her every single day. This is my 19th Mother’s Day and the 19th Mother’s Day without my mom. She died in August 2000, just a couple months after my first child was born. We never got to be moms together and she never got the chance to be a grandma which she was so looking forward to.

So to my mom, Glenna Jean… Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom out there. I wish I had been a better daughter and told you more often how much I love you. I miss our weekly Sunday chats (although I’m sure Dad doesn’t miss the long-distance bills, lol). I wish you could see your grandkids and great-grandson and be a part of their life, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

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Me and my mom in 1985. I was 8.

And here’s the last picture of her alive with her very best friend–her sister, Nora who I named my youngest daughter after (Nora Glenn after the both of them).

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And to the other moms in my life…

My mother-in-law, Kay, who is also no longer with us:

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Here she is with my youngest son, Jack, in 2010. The last time we saw her. She died in March 2017.

And to my daughter, Meagan, on her first Mother’s Day, who despite all of her issues, is a really good mom. I’m so proud of her.

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Day 53 of Isolation: Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Happy Cinco de Mayo from Eloise the Literary Raptor. Isn’t her tiny sombrero just the cutest? I found the pattern at Repeat Crafter Me. It’s supposed to be a keychain.

I made the first one (that she’s holding) according to the pattern, but it was a bit big for her so then I changed to a smaller hook and started with less stitches to get the perfect little hat for her.

Now I just need to make her some teeny tacos to eat for dinner. Or taco pizza like we’re having from Papa Murphy’s. Delish.

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