Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tuesday Thoughts About...

...what we personally can do to help during this pandemic.

I'm so proud of Stephanie (#middlechildproblemsbedamned!---#inside joke) for taking a proactive part in helping small businesses and those people who have become her friends. Stephanie mentioned that she had reached out to all the small businesses that she uses. She asked a simple question. "What can I do to help?" People were surprised, but grateful. She bought products and gift cards for future services. What a fabulous idea!!! Why didn't we think of that?

So, I decided to put together a list of things we could all do.

1. Reach out to those people you see on a regular basis and find out if they would like you to purchase future services---hair dressers (that sounds so weird to say---but I think that's what they are still called), nail people, aestheticians, masseuse, private gyms, and anyone else you see on a regular basis.

2. Reach out to those small, local stores that you frequent to see if you can purchase a gift card for future redemption. I've sent an email to Nashville Needleworks and am waiting to hear back. On the other hand, with so much free time, maybe their business has picked up! The store is closed, but they will arrange for your purchases and pick ups on the sidewalk.

3. Pick up meals from your local restaurants. They just had a report on the news, that you are not going to get the virus via food you order or the packaging. They say the risk is very low. Same for groceries. Just be sure to wash any fresh produce that doesn't require cooking. A light rinsing is all that's required.

This leads me to tell you about our experience on Saturday. We were craving burgers, so decided to go to Sonic. I brought along a Chlorox wipe to use on the order button. They have an app you can use too. We ordered, but got the idea that the guy didn't get it. Neither of us could understand the guy. A couple minutes later, the "car hop" (if that's what they are still called---that sounds funny too) approached on skates. There did not appear to be any drinks. We told her what we had ordered and she took the whole thing back. She came back a few minutes later and said our order was "free!" What??? We said "NO!" and insisted on paying. It was just a mistake. Probably at any other time, we would have thought we hit the jackpot. Not this time. All these places are struggling. We're trying to do our part. Getting free food for a simple mistake right now is not in our plan.

4. We're allowing our cleaning lady to "shelter in place" with her son while continuing to pay her. Stephanie and Mindy are Venmo--ing me so we can give her the cash. Last week, I texted her to pick up her money as I know she needs it. I put her money in an envelope on the front porch. She was so grateful that she sent the following message: "Mrs. Barbara, we want to thank my son and I for being so special and very generous of you, many thanks to you and Mrs. Mindy, that God our Father multiply you forever." As I've mentioned in the past, we have a bit of a communication problem. She probably uses some sort of translation app as I do with her. This makes me wonder what kind of messages she gets from me! Mostly I play charades with her.

One thing is for sure. I'll be very happy to have her back when this is all over. I have never taken her for granted! I do not like cleaning but am very particular. Luckily, Butch is more than willing to help. We're sticking with cleaning on Monday---our normal routine.

5. Allow all of your "outside" workers to continue working as usual---if they are willing: lawn people, landscapers, mowers, etc. My garden girl made a point of emailing me and telling about all the precautions they were taking---like wiping down any gates, hoses or anything else they touch. She  just wanted to be able to keep her crew working. As far as we're concerned, she and our mower provide essential services for us! We're grateful for them.

Thank you, Stephanie, for reminding me to think beyond ourselves.

I've decided to add another list of things you can do for your own sanity and maybe someone else's too boot.

1. Call someone you haven't talked to in a long time. For me, it's quite a sacrifice to get on the phone at all. I've always considered it a time waster. My time waster in recent years has been the internet. You can kill an hour without blinking an eye. And now, we're adding puzzles to that list of time wasters. It's no wonder I don't have the time to do all the things I want to do!

As Mindy observed, "Who would have thought that 2020 would be the year that puzzles would make a comeback!"

2. Have a FaceTime chat with someone. It can be a time waster too, but it just feels different when you are seeing them---more like hanging out together. We're doing this with our family for happy hour on Fridays. Most of our family are working from home. Let's face it, Fridays are still Fridays and the beginning of the weekend. People say that when you are retired, every day is like a weekend. Nope, Fridays are still the start of the weekend. It just feels different. Oh, and we're having a couple extra happy hours ourselves now. Definitely makes us feel better---if you know what I mean!

3. Share your hobbies with others---books, movies and all those darn puzzles we have right now. I'm sharing scrapbooking with my AYM group. We're having a little gathering today. I've put together a simple end page that we are all going to do. I sent them the list of supplies needed over the weekend. I think it's going to be fun. We'll see how it goes.

4. Watch your favorite old movie. Mindy told me that she made Justin watch Grease. How in the world has he never seen that? Oh yeah, probably because he wasn't born yet when that movie came out! Turns out he liked it. Who wouldn't? Still a great movie---and the music...

I watched my 2nd favorite movie of all time---Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon on Saturday morning. (My most favorite is My Foolish Heart with Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews). Later in the afternoon after watching the movie---during our puzzle time,  I told Butch that I've decided that the most romantic word in the English language has to be "darling!" I told him that I'd like him to start calling me "darling!" He just looked at me like I was nuts. I'll have to let you know how that goes! Whatever happened to that word anyway? Let's bring it back!

5. Pull some games out of the closet and play. Someone asked me how I got Butch to play games. I said, "I just say, 'it's game time!'" And he complies! Actually, I think he appreciates that I am trying to keep up busy. Plus, when we were dating and then before we had kids, we played games all the time. All. The. Time. Even over the phone. While I was in the hospital after Sandy's birth, we played Battleship over the phone. One time I wanted to pass the time!

We played this one yesterday.
It was a Route 66 game that I gave Butch for Christmas---you know my obsession. Turns out, it was a lame game! It's up for grabs if anyone wants it.

We've always been a game playing family, but had gotten away from just the two of us playing. We're bringing that back.

I hope you find a take away here for you and your family. Please share any ideas you might have.

As for my "darling"---I still have an ace in the back pocket---our stamp collections!!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Home Schooling

So now people are having to home school. I don't think I would ever have been able to do that. I just don't have the patience. Apparently, there are many parents during this pandemic that don't either.



Saturday, March 28, 2020

What We're Doing

This is a long one, so grab a cuppa!

We're doing a lot. A lot! Not necessarily accomplishing anything productive, but we're having some fun.

I'm doing all of my normal things: reading, stitching, scrapbooking and walking.

And lots of the not so normal things: cleaning (ugh) and more cooking, talking on the phone and baking. 

We've walked several times in the Deerwood Arboretum right behind our house. You just never know what you are going to come across.
The first thing I noticed on the path was this pretty blue jay feather. I stuck it in the visor of Butch's car.
 I asked Butch what he thought could have caused this on our first walk. We still don't know. But it's like a big chunk was chomped out of it.
 Then there was this---Butch said it's some sort of centipede. It did have a lot of legs--and they seemed to be in groups of 5 with a little space between.
 There are so many wildflowers in bloom. These look to be forget-me-knots. I didn't know they were wildflowers.
 I don't know what these are. I completely forgot about my flower identifier app.
I looked these up when I got home. I thought they were miniature columbines. I'm pretty sure they are.

And then there's this. I can't remember if I've already mentioned it before.
This little cute lending library---I need to remember to drop off some books the next time we're there. It's a nice peaceful little park. Butch thinks it's because most people don't know about it.

After this walk, I decided to take a stroll through my own garden.

I tried every way I could to get that nasty basketball hoop out of the picture, but no luck. This an ornamental cherry that puts on a spectacular show every spring.
 The Virginia bluebells are in bloom. They are so cute.
 Blue and pink. They bloom for such a short period of time, That I was lucky to see them.  I don't always remember to look for them and then it's too late. Now with all this extra time...
 This is terrible. I used to know all the flowers in my garden, but I can't remember this one. It looks like lilies of the valley, but the foliage is not right. Oh well, they are so cute.

The trees all look so pretty. We've finally had several sunny, beautiful days. We've had several 80 degree days now.

And then I discovered this:
You've got to be kidding me. I guess I'll need to call the "mole-inator" to get rid of them before they destroy the place.

One day we spent a couple hours making some deliveries to family and friends. I had made banana muffins, but not everyone got them as 2 dozen didn't go so far!
 Steph needed some hand sanitizer. I also gave them some split pea soup and cornbread.
 Mindy needed some paper towels. She also got muffins and soup. She lives in a condo downtown. It was eerie for there to be no traffic or tourists! Most of the time are streets are like New York.
 I had to drop some photos off to Nancy for our round robin, so she got a couple muffins too.
 I dropped pictures to Pam (with Hugh) and picked up some.
Next was Karolyn. Her sister just recently passed, so wanted to give her my regards along with muffins.

Last was Jack and Connie. I can't believe I forgot to take their picture. Butch and I practiced "social distancing" at every stop! It was nice to get out and take a ride around town---without traffic for a change! Then we came across this:
A giant whisk! So interesting. I don't know what the significance is in this particular location. Butch says it's just urban art. There's a huge, old fashioned, microphone on Music Row near Mindy, but I didn't get a picture of that. It makes sense there because that is such an iconic area of town.

I think I mentioned, that after our Strawberry Shortcake puzzle fiasco, I ordered two from Amazon. The first one arrived on Thursday. I saw the package on the front porch and wondered what it was. It wasn't big enough to be the puzzle. Or, so I thought!
 I was very excited to find a Route 66 puzzle. But somehow, I missed the "fine print"...
 ...even though it was staring me right in the face!
 OMGosh y'all, this thing is really tiny!
 You can see the difference between this puzzle and a regular puzzle!
 It's about 12"x15"---really small! We can hardly see the pieces. We decided we need to do this one on the kitchen table because it requires very good light.
We can only work on it in the daytime because we need that natural light. Butch is complaining that his fingers are too big for it. Every time he tries to put a piece in, he knocks out 3! Still, we're having fun with it. 
We finished the last one and sent it off with Mitchell's care package last week.

A little later in the day, the mailman dropped off another package. This one from my sister, Joyce. 
This one is going to be tough---all black, white and gray. I guess everyone is feeling sorry for us. My friend, Nancy E. in Leiper's Fork said she was going to drop one off if she got out any time soon. I told her not to make a special trip. We might take a ride out to her place. Beautiful country.

Thursday was such a gorgeous day. Butch went to play golf. When he got home, he found me on the front porch reading. For once, we observed that all the mowers---which we usually find so annoying---were a comforting sound---that life is moving along normally.

Anyway, Butch made himself a cocktail and me, a glass of wine. We sat out there talking for nearly 3 hours. Considering we've been together 24/7 for the past two weeks, you might think we wouldn't have much to talk about. But we enjoyed reminiscing about our moves and people we've met along the way. 

We've been watching pretty much tv. We're on the final season of Justified. We've also been watching the Ken Burns History of Country Music. It is so good and interesting. I've learned so much. We had no idea that Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan were such good friends! Love them both. 

And then, we've started the Tiger King on Netflix because it has blown up on Facebook. It's a short series, like 5 episodes. We're only 2 episodes in to it. It's pretty hard to believe. 

As for me, I've been watching a British series---I think there's only 4 episodes---called Retribution. OMGosh! I'm loving it. In fact, I'm going to watch the last episode as soon as I finish this post. 

On Friday night, we had a family happy hour via FaceTime. That was so much fun---truly like being together.

And then yesterday, we were together. Stephanie and Nicky and Mindy and Justin came over in the afternoon. Butch had cleaned up the patio and the furniture (you wouldn't believe the pollen!). They arrive with their own drinks, the chairs were placed 6 ft. apart and no one came in to our house! This was more their insistence rather than ours. 

They think we're old. And we just might be!

So there it is---what we've been up to. What about you?

The Quarantine Boredom Quiz

A couple of you played along, so I'm going to share their results here. Below this post you will find my "What We're Eating" post. There aren't always enough days of the week...ya' know?

Connie and Mindy sent their answers---Connie first:
1. Did you marry your high school sweetheart? 

2. What did you drive? 
I never had my own car.  I don’t remember what my parents drove, but occasionally I got to drive it to school.

3. Where did you work?
i worked at a shop called Chas. A. Stevens.  I worked in customer service.  Also, I babysat a lot.  

4. Where did you live? 
Western Springs, IL.  A suburb of Chicago

5. Were you in a band?
No, I had no talent.

6. Still talk to your best friend? 
No, I moved away the day after graduation.

7. Ever get suspended? 

8. If you could, would you go back?
No.  I just wish I knew then some of the things I know now.

9. Still talk to the person that you went to prom with?
Oh, hell no!

10. Did you skip?
No, I would never have done that.  Although, with 1200 in my class they probably never would have missed me.

11. Go to all the football games?
Many of them.  I’ve always liked football.

12. Favorite subject?
English and French

13. Do you still have your yearbooks?
I don’t think so.  At least I haven’t seen them in the last couple of moves.

14. Did you follow your "original career plan”? 
More or less.  I always knew I wanted to be married and have children.

15. Do you still have your senior ring? 
No, sadly it was stolen .

16. Favorite teacher?
Mrs. Perch in 6th grade

17. What was your style? 
Ladybug dresses and flats

18. Favorite shoes? 
2 inch heels

19. Favorite thing to eat for lunch?
 Cheez whiz sandwich with the crust cut off and chips

20. Favorite band?
Beach Boys and Elvis (I know, it’s not a band)

21. High School?
Lyons Township High School.  9 and 10 grades were in Western Springs, IL, and 11 and 12 grades were in La Grange, IL
Total of 5,000 students.

22. Favorite hang out?
The Corral

23. Favorite thing to do?
1. Tennis
2.  Volleyball 
3.  Basketball

24. Favorite food?
Anyrhing my mom made, but, especially, vegetable soup and salmon croquettes 

25. Favorite tv program?
Ozzie and Harriet
Saturday Night at the Movies

And now for Mindy:
1. Did you marry your high school sweetheart? 
No. But we still keep in touch via social media. He’s a great guy.

2. What did you drive? 
Red Jeep Liberty

3. Where did you work?
Abercrombie & Fitch

4. Where did you live? 

5. Were you in a band?
No, I am not musically gifted 

6. Still talk to your best friend? 
Yes— me and my girlfriend group (the ones that live here) still get together regularly.

7. Ever get suspended? 
No- but plenty of demerits. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know you were in trouble but then walk past the office and see your name on the demerit list for something!

8. If you could, would you go back?
I loved high school but would not want to go back

9. Still talk to the person that you went to prom with?
We’re in touch via social media

10. Did you skip?

11. Go to all the football games?
Yes— I was a cheerleader! 🙂

12. Favorite subject?
Drama or German

13. Do you still have your yearbooks?

14. Did you follow your "original career plan”? 
Heck no. I definitely thought I’d be either in a more creative field or a lawyer ...yet here I am in Healthcare IT of all things (and I’m terrible at math/science!)

15. Do you still have your senior ring? 
Yes and recently wore it at our reunion

16. Favorite teacher? 
Mrs. Stamps— she was tough but she liked me and I totally understood her methods

17. What was your style? 
Uniforms at school. Sundresses/skirts otherwise (still pick dresses/skirts over pants/jeans)

18. Favorite shoes? 
Saddle oxfords at school

19. Favorite thing to eat for lunch?
Don’t really remember much about my high school lunches— which is weird because I’m OBSESSED with my food!

20. Favorite band?
Nsync, Backstreet Boys

21. High School?
St. Cecilia academy

22. Favorite hang out?
Mostly people’s houses (usually whoever had the most lenient/absent parents 😂). We also went to eat Mexican food a lot.

23. Favorite thing to do?
Cheering at football/basketball games, forensics, laying out at the pool with my friends

24. Favorite food?
Peas, Lima beans, mom’s chicken pot pie, and mom’s spaghetti sauce (those are still all favorites!)

25. Favorite tv program?
Friends, The Bachelor (still watch this!), MTV’s The Challenge (still watch this!)

I just love these quizzes. It gives me an insight to family and friends. What about you?

What We're Eating

I've been cooking up a storm again this week. In fact, Butch said I was cooking too much and that the food would be going to waste!

I always build in a leftover night not to mention the leftovers we eat at lunch. Plus, I am dividing any recipe that I can. We haven't wasted a thing yet. Well, we did waste one thing last week. I made strawberry shortcake and planned to have that twice. Butch didn't eat his second helping. I asked him twice if he was going to have it. He kept saying "yes" so I didn't eat it. Those strawberries went to waste.

I've been enjoying the cooking and making things I haven't made in a long time---mostly because I forget about some of our favorites. And, there are plenty of pre-packaged, really easy things to make too. The only reason I've decided to do this post every week is to give you some new ideas, or spark a memory of dishes you may have forgotten about. Plus, I like to share those quick and easy meals too.

Saturday we got barbecue from Corky's. $20.20 for a slab of ribs, 4 sides and rolls or corn muffins (the best). We've designated Saturdays for "take out" to help support local restaurants. Certainly can't get any easier than that!

Sunday we had these:
If you've never tried them, you should. They are so good and so easy. Publix still had plenty in several varieties. Sam's carries them in bulk, but then you only get one type. Each package contains 2. This time, we ended up splitting one.  I made fresh Brussel sprouts and parslied potatoes. I like to have bread, but try to resist unless we have pasta or soup.
On Monday, I wanted to make good ol' Southern tea punch. My friend, Nancy A. makes it pretty frequently and usually shares with me.
We weren't able to get the frozen  orange juice concentrate, so we had to improvise. I had Butch do the squeezing. It turned out pretty good. Not exactly like The Picnic's recipe, but still good.

Picnic Tea Punch
8 cups water
4 tea bags or 1 family style
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
*8 lemon slices
*8 mint sprigs

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags and cinnamon stick. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and mix in other ingredients (I don't bother thawing the concentrates as they easily dissolve). Chill 4 hours and discard cinnamon stick. 
*These are for garnish, so I never bother with them.

Using the fresh orange juice was not exactly the same, but I did like the pulp.

For dinner, I made the Ham and Scalloped Potato Casserole. One of my favorites. A few weeks ago, the Honey Baked Ham store had a sale on their ham bones for $2.99. I bought two and put them in the freezer. When I use these, I always plan two different meals with them. They have plenty of meat---more than a single recipe calls for. 
I used to request this sometimes for my birthday dinner, when I was growing up. A couple notes about this recipe. As you can see, there are no amounts except for the white sauce. Basically, you just peel and slice as many potatoes as you want. I used a 6x9 baking dish. I cut the white sauce in half. Also, I add a little minced onion to the white sauce---not too much. I don't like raw onions (except in salads and on burgers) and am not convinced they would cook "soft" at such a low temperature. Also, you MUST use American cheese slices. I don't know why it matters, but it does. I've tried using shredded cheddar on top and it wasn't nearly as good.

I served fresh asparagus with the casserole for something green.

Tuesday, I had planned to make split pea soup with the bone. But, since Butch made the comment about me cooking too much, I made this the leftover night. Mitchell came over to pick up food---he's still quarantined from being sick. Even though the doctor said he could go back to work on Thursday, his work said to wait another week. He's doing some work from home. Anyway, I sent him home with plenty of food and gave him the leftover Corky's ribs we had on Saturday.

Wednesday I baked banana nut muffins. We like our bananas before they get all speckle. Once they are like that, I put them in the freezer to use for these muffins.

I packaged them to make some deliveries the next day.

For dinner, I made the split pea soup with cornbread. Really good and easy. Just buy the Honey Baked Ham pea soup mix. All you have to do is add celery, carrots and onions for a nice hearty soup. I like thick soups. Most of mine are more like stews. We couldn't get celery, so I left that out and it was still good.

On Thursday, Butch and set off to make some deliveries and see Stephanie, Mindy and some friends. More about that tomorrow. The day was so gorgeous! Butch came home from golf and found me reading on the front porch. We ended up having happy hour and drank our dinner!! 

On Friday  I made some egg salad to have for dinner. We just had a salad with some frozen butterfly shrimp for lunch. 

So that's what we had this week. What about you? Have you tried anything new? Feel free to share!