Unwinding (vacation day 4, grilling day 2)

I woke today with no clear idea of what I wanted to achieve today except that I promised my teenager that we could go to Lidl and get supplies to grill again.

I even called my blind friend Nan (who’s now on twitter and just published a NASA poem as a tweet) and got her shopping list.

  • Macaroni salad
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Riced cauliflower
  • Ice cream

I got up and fed the menagerie. One quietly sad little leftover tidbit of having formerly feral kittens is that sometimes they really do eat anything.

Fog, who was on his own a month longer than his brother Misty (Mistofelees), tends to eat the cockatoo’s kibble.

But I do feed them— as I grind my whole bean espresso blend and feed it into my little espresso machine.

This morning I started laundry, washed the bathroom floor and reassembled it now that it’s been thoroughly scrubbed. I had my last birthday cupcake for breakfast.

I saw a got the last of my anticipated packages, a shirt and necklace from Doll’s Kill. (Unboxing here: My last birthday package.)

I also got two pairs of slacks and a purple tunic from White House Black Market. I thought the necklace would look amazing with the tunic. (Another unboxing here: New Pants)

My Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, had her morning talking session and woke the teenager up at 11 a.m.

The teenager and I went to Lidl and the Dollar Tree. Our finds at Lidl included super cheap scrapple and super cheap hot dogs and super cheap maple breakfast sausages. We got two bags of instant light charcoal. Dill pickle pita chips. Some varieties of veggie burgers. Provolone because it was on sale and the teenager adores provolone. The teenager even got break and bake chocolate chip cookies to make in her father’s new toaster oven. (His apartment does not have a stove/oven.)

At the Dollar Tree, I got tuna. A vase because for the life of me I can’t find the one I made in college that I use to display my roses. Frozen appetizers. A can of corn so we can make my mother-in-law’s corn bake. A can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli because it might be the second time the teenager ever had it. Some grill utensils. Matches. And Ajax. Because the teenager wanted Comet for cleaning but the Dollar Store only had Ajax. And instant decaf coffee. Because Lidl didn’t have any decaf coffee and I need to detox.

Nala got really hot this afternoon and started swimming in her water bowl.

The teenager started the grill again. This time we were more determined than ever to succeed. Read about last night’s attempt here: Yesterday’s BBQ

We even invited her dad for dinner. And do you know what? Those cheap hot dogs were really good.

And I had a library board meeting at 7 p.m., so I poured a Diet Coke and mango nectar.

I can feel my tension fade away and it feels delightful. I ate well today, though I’m hungry now. I even had a ton of fruit. A serving of cantaloupe. An apple made in the grill like at Girl Scout camp. And probably 8 pieces of watermelon.

Pre-Birthday Magic

Many years ago I bought a silk slip on clearance in a beautiful teal blue color that matches my current bedroom. Because it’s a full slip, and such a strange and rich color, I never found a dress I could wear with it.

Last night I decided to wear it as a nightgown. I felt so fancy.

I was so cozy in my silk slip I didn’t want to get dressed. I thought a good way to compromise would be to wear a dress. And I got a new dress from The Attic that I haven’t worn.

I did my make-up and everything.

Now to make things more interesting I managed to convince my dad that we should have a socially-distanced picnic to celebrate my birthday and my step-mom’s birthday which are both tomorrow. I really want to cook these on the grill, and I don’t have any charcoal for mine.

And I had to order these. They sound so good! And when I ordered them from Tucker Silk Mill, I ordered fresh dill, fresh ginger, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, golden beets, cauliflower, and purple peppercorns. The Vietnamese purple peppercorns were a birthday splurge.

And I never had golden beets, but I don’t really note any difference between those and regular beets.

I hung a load of wash outside and noticed so many lily of the valleys. At the front of the house my roses are finally blooming. I can’t wait to bring bouquets into the house.

At work today we still didn’t come to any agreement on when I can take my vacation.

I was working on my laptop on the sun porch when two women starting taking photos of my flowers. I heard them comment how beautiful my roses and irises are. I said thank you and started them as they hadn’t seen me.

They had been worried someone would yell at them for being in my yard. I laughed. No, I said, you are welcome. They took photos!

The teenager arrived home with the lemon cardamom cake she baked at my request for my birthday.

Recipe from Spice TrainLemon cardamom cake (click photo for recipe) On my 30-minute lunch break, the teenager and I ran down to Tucker to get my impulse buy of vegetables and then headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for my free birthday coffee which they completely screwed up. The teenager got some more of her special Dunkin stones from the side of the drive through.

(For more on the teenager’s fascination with the magical uses of these particular stones… it started here: Thank You Tucker Provisions with our last visit to Tucker. Apparently each time we go to Tucker, I let my daughter pick up random rocks at Dunkin.)

But she has always valued the power in rocks.

And honestly, I’m glad they screwed up my coffee and gave me a smaller weaker drink because I submitted four grants to my executive director today so my nerves were shot. I had just enough time to bring these goodies into the house before I had to clock back in!
My provisions from Tucker

The kittens and big old Oz gathered around me while I worked. My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card with money in it and my dad sent a really cute cupcake card with a check.

Then the teenager and I walked down to CVS to get my prescription and my neighbor who owns Sobaka, the Maltese yorkie mix, joined us. This gave the teenager a chance to try the new dog training clicker I bought her from Petco.

And I got my free nail polish from CVS for my birthday.

I came home and roasted vegetables, are cake and watched Star Trek The Next Generation with my daughter.

Thank You Tucker Provisions

The teenager wanted to get out of the house yesterday and I knew as a responsible adult we needed some fresh produce.

With the Coronavirus still keeping our state on lockdown, I’ve been trying to explore as many small local businesses as I can that are adapting to the situation.

I’ve never been to Tucker, an Australian Cafe at the Simon Silk Mill in Easton. They hosted an amazingly successful benefit to raise money to fight the Australian brush fires.

So they already have my admiration.

The only friend I know who ate there was not impressed— she felt rushed and a tad snubbed by their waitress.

But I’ve been intrigued by their recent business model… They’ve adapted by becoming “Tucker Provisions” and it’s like a drive up general store.

Tucker web site

They feature a a variety of other local and regional farmers, vendors, and small businesses. The apples in the picture are from Bethlehem’s Scholl Orchard. The golden raisins are super plump and juicy, so good.

And I am so looking forward to trying the potatoes, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, rhubarb and broccoli.

I even splurged on some Mexican soda.

While we were out, the teenager spotted these:

She loves rocks.

“Mom,” she says as the car is stopped. “There are some really nice rocks over there.”

“Go get them,” I tell her.

Maybe she’ll be a geology major.

For supper last night I decided I wanted homemade cream of broccoli soup. We have some heavy whipping cream in the fridge that’s past its date, more than a week past, and I hate to waste.

And Tucker had broccoli.

I based my soup on this recipe

Now I never follow a recipe, never exactly. Either I never have all the ingredients or I just don’t want to. This was a little of both. While I prepped the soup, I roasted some of the Brussels and our last radishes and the smallest of our fingerling potatoes.

I made mini bread bowls out of the heavily discounted fresh baked but day old dinner rolls I bought at Weis last weekend and tossed in the fridge. I even toasted the removed guts of the bread bowl to make croutons on top.

Good stuff. Looking forward to enjoying it for lunch if the rain keeps up.

My green breakfast, beer bribes, and not so good food choices.

I am sipping a matcha latte (a Tazo concentrate and it’s very sweet) and about to enjoy a pistachio muffin.

The last thing I need right now is a 400+ calorie muffin but I went to Weis yesterday because they have beer. And wine. And I like to have beer on hand to “pay” my neighbor when he automatically cuts my front lawn when he cuts his.

When my husband and I bought this house— almost 20 years ago—we intentionally picked one with a small yard. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may have seen my backyard and never even realized how small it is. Just enough for a small garden and a clothesline.

That’s more than half my yard and my huge detached garage—split level

This is the post that photo comes from: Perfect Day from the Home Office

My husband used to cut the grass with a weed wacker. But it died. I used an old 100-year-old manual push mover. The one with the rotating blades. A gift from a friend who once lived in a similar neighborhood.

But my neighbors usually do my front yard. Our front yards are small and I think they figure if you have the lawn mower out might as well keep going.

My neighbor who currently cuts my grass has a habit of opening a cold beer when he’s done. So if I see him cutting grass, I bring him a cold beer. If he does it while I’m not around, I leave a beer on his porch.

So, if I want to continue to foster this good neighbor behavior, I need beer.

At Weis, they have this display right inside the door with preboxed muffins. I go to Weis for three things: pistachio muffins (why are they the only local store with the sense to back them????), their store made fried chicken (which they don’t appear to be making right now), and craft beer mix and match six packs. (The damn store is in a trifecta triangle with my gym, my bank and Dunkin’ Donuts.)

I walk into the store and there it sits— two very troubling decisions. There are two four-packs of muffins that include pistachio.

  1. Do I buy muffins? Oh, so nutritionally void. But delicious.
  2. Do I buy the four pack of pistachio or do I buy the four pack that includes three pistachio and one corn? How did that one corn muffin get in there? Why corn?

I had to buy the one with the corn. Who else would buy such a bizarre combo of muffins? And do the pistachio muffins bully the corn muffin?

I also bought a six pack of Yuengling and a six pack of Brooklyn Brand Sour Raspberry Ale. And a strawberry parfait.

The parfait was amazing. It was a strawberry shortcake with pudding and mountains of whipped cream. I thought it might have yogurt in it but no, it was pudding. I can’t even pretend that was healthy.

Weis Strawberry (Shortcake) Parfait

Throughout the day, I ate an entire bag of Sweettart jelly beans. I’m not disappointed in myself for eating 1300 calories of jelly beans. I’m disappointed in myself for binge eating jelly beans I didn’t even really like.

Yes, jelly beans and a diet A-treat

And then finally for supper, I made spinach feta sausage patties from our local small grocery, butcher and best deli ever Park Avenue Market. More on my shopping trip yesterday here: The Uplifting Side of Pandemic Days. The teenager was mmmmming and smacking her lips.

Meat courtesy Park Avenue Market

The sausage tasted fabulous on the day-old deeply discounted bakery rolls I picked up at Weis.

And the ale was good. The fruity sour taste was a tad off putting at first because I wasn’t quite prepared for it. But it was refreshing and smooth overall.

I have to do better with my eating today.

Sidewards glance you the huge, nutritionally void pistachio muffin next to my latte.

Pandemic Observations #14B

We went to the Grocery Outlet for a few household necessities — and the food is definitely getting more picked over. Fruit is getting harder to come by.

It felt strange to come home feeling like a quart of half and half was a major score and some chocolate milk classified as a treat. We bought mostly beverages which was fine because we needed toiletries.

The teenager enjoyed rooting through the reject cans of Coke products— we came home with some orange soda, diet ginger ale, diet root beer, vanilla orange Coke Zero and diet caffeine free coke (which the teen didn’t realize was caffeine free so now she’s excited she can drink soda late at night and not deal with the insomnia she inherited from her father). 25 cents a can.

We realized upon leaving the store that the Dunkin’ across the street was open (drive thru only) so to reward my teenager for getting up so early I bought her coffee and munchkins.

I then expounded on my mixed feelings about this whole situation— that franchise owners of Dominoes and Dunkin and large corporations are making a killing offering services on the backs of essential employees exploited and underpaid. I’m happy they aren’t having disrupted income but—and I spent 10 years in this category as a Target employee—they are being put at risk for people who want coffee and doughnuts.

Then to make it more of a dramatic monologue, my daughter asked why I avoid drive thrus so adamantly. I mentioned that I worked my way through college at the drive thru at McDonald’s. I was primarily a “runner” and I think that’s where I discovered panic attacks. It’s a stressful position, that really has no purpose. The employees are timed. All because people want speed and don’t want to get out of their cars.

But anyway. Sigh.

I’m drinking not only fully caffeinated coffee for the first time in weeks but cold brew. I may have a heart attack before the end of this entry.

I mentioned to the child that I hope she is keeping a journal as this is an experience she may never have in her life again. If I were her English teacher I would ask for 100 words a day.

I also proposed that someday her children might be required to do their public school education virtually and she could tell tales of back in the day when she used to walk to school and sit in a classroom with other kids.

That thought gave her pause.

I originally planned to discuss meal planning now that food is becoming sparse but I can do that another day. Or later.

Saturday foraging

I didn’t sleep much last night, wide awake at 5:30 a.m. After tossing and turning for an hour, I got up, fed the cats, reset windows on my newly arrived computer and decided to do my grocery shopping at Lidl when it opened at 8.

There were about 8 of us in the parking lot when it opened and the population of the store doubled in the first ten minutes. I did a lot of shopping in about 20 minutes, with everything from bathroom supplies to Easter Candy, plums to the last of the Brussel sprouts.

Lidl still has toilet paper, hand soap, various wipes, acetaminophen and disinfectant spray.

Many of the shelves are completely empty but others are untouched — so some of my protein choices are unorthodox. I bought some things I prefer not to eat, like frozen black eyed peas, because they are cheap and will keep. I also bought processed foods I avoid for health reasons for the same reasons, namely hot dogs. I also snagged the last carton of liquid egg whites. I’ve never cooked with those but they have a freshness date of June. So it’s a protein I can store.

I bought the teenager a bag of lemons and a bag of plums. I treated myself to a large cantaloupe. I will surprise us both will pre-cut watermelon— a luxury I never indulge in but we can use the extra fruit.

And while everyone else ran to things like meat and toilet paper, I went to the bakery and put on the disposable gloves they offered, grabbed a pastry paper and selected warm croissants— you know before everyone touches them.

I also bought juice, again which I never do preferring the fiber and extra satiating qualities of real fruit, but if we’re not going to the store, we need some vitamin c source.

And one man noticed how quickly and efficiently I shopped. He made robot gestures and called me a machine.

And I got a big old bag of lavender Epsom salts. That was my treat.

Shopping is different now

My teenager wanted junk food and wanted out of the house so she accompanied her father grocery shopping. At Target. Her choice.

I made her a list, downloaded the Target Circle app to her phone, logged her into my account and loaded all my coupon.

We weren’t at the point where we needed groceries, but if things are going to get scarce, I want to be ready. I’m not hoarding but I’m trying to stay ahead of what people want next.

I use a lot of bleach, white vinegar, Borax powder and baking soda when I clean because of all the animals so I asked her to grab them if she saw them.

Flour, cooking oil, tuna fish, peanut butter. Things like that. Well, tuna is getting more scarce so I asked her to get canned chicken. It was that or the expensive tuna. Next time we’ll grab some Spam.

She even nabbed a bottle of acetaminophen— PM. But hey, if I need the acetaminophen I might need sleep, too.

This morning for breakfast we had the last of our homemade crepes, turkey bacon, scrambled egg and smoked Gouda (with pickles).

The teenager and I FaceTimed my parents— which was a riot because I don’t think they ever FaceTimed before so they were struggling with the camera angles and my stepmom was showing me pages from her cookbook while my daughter chased cats around the house.

And then I got a text. My prescription was ready at CVS.

The teen and I had a 30% off coupon expiring today so we walked the half mile to the pharmacy. I got my prescription. We got a bottle of acetaminophen without sleep aid. And she got a gallon of Arizona iced tea. We got some other impulse buys that included a strawberry Twinkie, which resulted in a very silly video of us:

Taste test of the Strawberry Twinkie