March Books

What dear friends have you been reading this month? Since we are all quarantined I hope you have found some engaging reads!

I just finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. It made me feel very melancholy but it also had a satisfying resolution. This one was part of Oprah’s Book Club and I picked it up because it was on our library suggested reads shelf and looked interesting.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom was fascinating, challenging, tear jerking, and filled with hope. This was probably the best book I have read so far this year. I feel like I should know far more about Corrie Ten Boom than I do so I will likely read more by her soon.

Reese Witherspoon placed Conviction by Denise Mina in her book club a couple of months ago. I had it on my library wait list and finally got to read it. If you like true crime podcasts and Scotland you may like this book. It had some interesting twists and turns and in a couple of spots, especially on the road to Fort William, I could see Scotland in my head.

I read Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin because he was on Good Mythical Morning. This was a pretty quick read. It was pretty sad but had some good laugh out loud moments as well. If you know someone with ALS this would be a good read about a kid dealing with a parent’s diagnosis.

One book that I wasn’t as fond of was Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I loved the relationship between the babysitter and the little girl but everyone else was terrible.

Good Mythical Morning strikes again. I read The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek because we are fans of Rhett and Link. It was a weird book and I mean that in a good way. The main characters are Rex and Leif so I read it in their voices. It was a little Steven King meets fictional autobiography.

I just started a book that is set in Yosemite which is one of my favorite places on Earth. I am hoping it is fantastic. I would love to hear from you below about what books you have been reading!

QUARANTINE Blues

How are you feeling these days? I have to be honest up until this morning I have been doing just fine with “Staying safer at home”. I have been to the grocery store, I took a meal to a family, and have taken some short walks with my dog. I have my family in the nest and everyone is working on what they need to do. This morning though I woke up and just feel blah. I’m sure, like every other day this week I could get dressed but today I just don’t wanna. I don’t know if it is because it just won’t stop freaking raining or that I am feeling rather useless. My kids are working on school, my husband is working from home. I don’t particularly want to clean anything. I just feel down.

Perhaps, I will get dressed and find something to do. Bible study is done, breakfast has been consumed, making sure my kiddos are on track will commence. I am praying the sun comes out today. Maybe later I will feel better.

How do you deal with feeling blah on a day like today?

Adventures with Coq A Vin

Last night I made Ina Garten’s Coq A Vin. It was the recipe from Food Network and the first one that popped up on Google. I have actually been planning to make this for awhile now and had all of the ingredients on hand. I am not a drinker. Alcohol hurts my stomach and red wine typically gives me a migraine with just a couple of sips. But, as a baker and cook I have some alcohol on hand for different recipes. Brandy, Ameretto, Grand Marnier, but I don’t usually have wine. A couple of months ago when I started thinking about making this I was at Walmart and decided to buy a bottle of wine for this dish. This is big folks because I know it has been a couple of years since we could buy wine in grocery stores (not before noon on Sunday though) but I really hadn’t done that before. I took my bottle of wine proudly to the front of the store with the rest of my groceries to the one checkstand that was open.The girl checking my groceries was very sweet but she was not 18 so she had to call a manager…who was stuck at the self checkout and could not come over. We waited as the line got longer and the person behind me got more annoyed. So to save the sweet checker some hassle from the frustrated people behind me I decided not to get the wine. Was it a sign?

The plan for Coq A Vin was shoved to the back burner for a bit until one day my daughter and I ran into Aldi for a few things. Aldi sells wine! And Aldi and Trader Joes have the same owner so their wine is probably the same Two Buck Chuck as the wine friends in California would buy. I picked up a bottle of Winking Owl because it was red, it was cute, and it was five bucks. The plans for Coq A Vin were back on.

Here we are several weeks later and I, along with everyone else in the world, have all the time I need for a recipe that doesn’t take twenty minutes start to finish. I pulled out all of my ingredients, I chopped bacon and onions. I measured out brandy and chicken stock…I tried to open the wine. I am positive I have a wine bottle opener in my house somewhere. I have used it. I am pretty sure I bought it at Publix several years ago. Do you think I can find it? Nope. The first time I tried to open wine it was with a corn cob nob. It didn’t go well. My son has a multi tool though with a corkscrew included. Yay! I thought I was saved! I could not get that cork out to save my life. I gave it to my hubs who yanked and pulled and could not free the cork. I ended up getting a spatula and shoving the cork down into the bottle. I may or may not have discovered wine on my forehead later that evening…

I think the most difficult part of this was browning the chicken..and opening the wine. I didn’t let the chicken brown all of the way so it wasn’t crispy but that didn’t seem to matter to my family. They actually really liked it . The flavor was acceptable to everyone and the chicken was cooked perfectly…if not crispy. I threw some Birdseye steamed veggies in the microwave to finish off the meal. Overall a delicious meal that I will probably make again!

Homeschooling in a Pandemic

Two days before spring break the schools in our area shut down for the Coronavirus pandemic. March 16th we got the notification that our district would be closed through at least April 3rd. Yesterday our Mayor gave the “Safer at Home” order meaning we are supposed to stay at home as much as possible. So today is supposed to be our first day (in a different world) back at school. My daughter is a senior in a public school so education is taking a turn for her at the moment. She expected to be back in her routine today. The last week she has been meeting up with her school friends through Google Duo and being creative. Actually she and my son did their first Youtube video together. It is called Tiny Food Fight.

Since we were already homeschooling our son the major difference for him is that his tutorial class is taking place on Zoom instead of in person. Last week he only did Spanish and Science since those are his tutorial classes. This week we are back on track with the rest of his subjects.

My daughter has always been very self directed and very organized. She has excellent study habits which she must have gotten from her daddy. She has heard from three of her teachers so far. Her AP English teacher is actually really organized and has a schedule all ready for the kids. Her AP Econ teacher from last semester has loaded information to the library so they can study. And her band director has posted some good resources and has been in touch. At the moment my daughter is working on AP Lit homework and will work on AP Spanish weekly work in a little while. She is also planning to help my son with his Spanish vocab later today. Then she has some reading to do.

I am really thankful for technology as that has been a lifesaver. It is pretty amazing that the kids can stay connected with everything they need to do!

For us and homeschooling, our district requires so many specific types of classes to graduate. For my son we have our curriculum for the year and have been happy with that. I have already started looking at curriculum for next school year and only have a couple to choose as he will take Health, Spanish 2, Biology, and Drawing through his tutorial. That leaves English, Geometry, and Bible.

For younger kids things are much more flexible as far as what you teach goes. Here are a few resources that we like:

Brave Writer for writing skills
Cathy Duffy for reviews on curriculum
Virtual Field Trips
Museum Tours
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems
We always love Rhett and Link
Of course there are a billion documentaries on Netflix, and you can never go wrong with just reading a book and letting imaginations run wild.

I hope those resources are helpful and that things go well for you as you homeschool your kiddos!

Nosy Rosy

Yesterday my grandparents were on my mind. My Grandma has been gone two years and my Grandpa almost two. They lived out in Amish country in Michigan and we would try to visit and stay with them out on their farm. My Grandpa was an extrovert. He would talk your ear off if you let him and he and my Grandma knew everyone in their little town. One of the things we thought was so funny was that each morning they would open their blinds and sit together at their little dining room table and watch up the road. As soon as a car or wagon came into view the excitement began. They had all of the questions. Who was that? What kind of car? Where are they going? If they knew the person they could tell us a bit about them. We always thought that was so funny but also endearing.

One of the last times my daughter and Grandpa walked up the driveway together.

Yesterday when I opened my blinds I thought “Ooh! Who could be out there?” I wondered what people were doing and who I would see. We often don’t open our front blinds because it causes a glare on the photos and television but since we have been avoiding people I just want to see what is happening in the world. If I know the person going past I can tell you a little bit about them. If I don’t I have all of the questions.

The last time we were at my Grandpa’s farm after his funeral.

Do you know your neighbors and the people who come and go on your street? Since you have been cooped up during this pandemic are you more interested in what your neighbors are doing? Is your neighborhood like Italy and singing from the porches or are you hiding away in your house? As for me, I am opening my blinds to see what’s happening and also sitting on the porch in anticipation of the conversations I could possibly have with total strangers.

Cook the Books Fridays

For years I baked through Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I went to the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle to meet her, her sweet husband, and the Doristas (the lovely group I had been baking with for years). We baked through Around My French Table and continued with My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. The most recent book that we are baking through is Everyday Dorie. I started out strong, lost focus and moved blog platforms over here to Adventuring with Karen. You can see my previous baking adventures over at www.ourcrazyblessedlife.blogspot.com. All that to say I have 3 recipes to share with you today!

The most recent recipe everyone cooked was Ginger Fried Rice. To see how the recipe went for the rest of the group you can click here.

Ginger Fried Rice

The most difficult part of this recipe was finding the ingredients. I made a special trip over to Publix to find Gochujang and Ponzu, which my daughter immediately dubbed Gucchi gang and Pikachu. We love rice in our house and fried rice is no exception. I have made fried rice before but it has always been a poor attempt until now. Dorie’s recipes are magic. I didn’t add any protein because we were having pork chops and this was a perfect side. Actually, my family liked the rice far more than the pork chops. I think the next time I will add eggs but other than that I didn’t feel like I needed to tweak anything to make my family happy. This is perfect for a cozy evening or pandemic at home. You can find this on page 239 of Everyday Dorie

Next up is Sheet Pan Chicken. If you are a fan of sheet pan recipes this one if for you. Another lovely easy recipe that you can throw together quickly and throw in the oven. You can check out the recipe on Dorie’s blog. You can also click here to see how the other cooks enjoyed this recipe.

Sheet Pan Chicken

I used chicken thighs for this recipe, made sure to use the fresh herbs, and picked up actual mushrooms. I do not like mushrooms at all but my hubs does and he especially liked them in this recipe.

Last but not least the recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies was chosen way back in September but I didn’t make them until January. My son had a science fair and we were required to bring a treat for the snack table. These were the perfect choice and I came home with an empty platter. I did save a few for my family and they were so happy about that. Dorie said they would spread so you could freeze the dough to bake later. I did chill the dough but didn’t freeze it and I think these cookies turned out perfectly! If you want to make these they are on page 246 of Everyday Dorie.

While you are self distancing or if you are under quarantine these are all incredible recipes to try out. Based on the empty shelves at the store at the moment, everyone should have the staples to make some fun dishes. Stay Safe, wash your hands, and I’ll see you on the other side of self distancing.

B & K DIY..and We Still Like Each Other

This weekend my kiddos were out of town on a church retreat. You might think my husband I would live it up and party. If your definition of party is fix the shower and install a new vanity you are correct! We did party!

In my last post I talked about the struggle bus we were on when it came to replacing the cartridge in our downstairs shower. Well, the part came in the mail so we made another attempt to fix the leaky situation. Everything went exactly as it was supposed to until I was done and the water continued pouring out of the faucet. I got my flashlight and discovered a tiny piece of rubber blocking the cartridge from being able to sit correctly. Our brilliant idea was to pull everything out, turn the water back on full blast and see if we could get the piece out. IT WORKED!! Not only did that piece come out a second piece flew out as well. Aside from flooding the bathroom due to the shower curtain being out of the tub we were quite pleased. Once it was out everything clicked smoothly into place.

Our next DIY project for the weekend was to install a new vanity. We have had a pedestal sink the entire time we have lived here and it has never been terribly steady. The hot water tap has been leaking for awhile so we MacGuyvered it to make sure the water stayed at the sink. I took it apart a couple of months ago and could not get the tap out. Even the Facebook hive mind generated suggestions didn’t work. Our plumber told us it would be cheaper to install an entire new vanity than to replace the cartridges on a sink that is at least 30 years old.

We removed the pedestal sink, scraped off the old paint and wallpaper, filled the holes and sanded everything down. We also primed the area and took measurements. I have to say, my hubs did an incredible job measuring and cutting everything. I am a hands on person who sometimes might skip the directions just to get my hands dirty. He wants to do a project once and he wants to do it right. In this case I was completely on his side. We did need to make another trip to the hardware store so we decided to get lunch while the primer dried. Patrons at the restaurant we went to were robbed later in the evening by a guy who grabbed purses and ran out the door. I’m glad we went for lunch.

Not my best food photography…

Later in the evening we placed the vanity, hooked up the faucet and all of the pipes…and it leaked. After another trip to the hardware store, bruised knees and sore backs my hubs was able to overcome the leak! So far, so good. When our kids got home they were very surprised! My son is not a huge fan because all four of us can’t stand around it and spit toothpaste at the same time…not that we did that anyway. That would be weird.

Yes, I know the floor looks hideous. Refinishing and staining is next on the list in out 102 year old house.

You might think that is the end of our plumbing drama but alas, it is not. The other day I paid off the powervent that was installed on our HVAC. The same day we discovered a leak to the basement from the upstairs bathroom. There is a giant crack in the cast iron pipe that leads from the upstairs bath to the sewer line. We are not even going to attempt a DIY project. While we worked well as a team on our projects this weekend, replacing the cast iron is being left to the pros.

Have you replaced plumbing or done major projects on your home? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Calgon, Take Me Away

Do you remember those old commercials? I pretty much thought when I was a grown up I would get to take baths and all my troubles would melt away. Alas, as an adult I am actually fixing the tub so I can use it at some point.

My sister and her husband recently sold their house and bought a fifth wheel to live in so that they can hit the road and start traveling in a couple of years.They are both quite handy so it didn’t surprise me when she posted on Facebook about all of these things she had fixed on her home after a massive water leak. I was feeling inspired! Yes, little sister, you inspired me to try to fix my leaky bathtub faucet.

I watched a few YouTube videos and was convinced I could take care of the pesky leak myself. So, I stopped at the big orange home improvement store and looked at all of the cartridges for the shower. I chose a Danko that said it was compatible with the Moen 1225 cartridge.

Still feeling like Superwoman I headed into the abyss under our house to turn off the water, came back upstairs and was able to remove the old cartridge without any trouble.

I then placed the new cartridge. It took me far longer than it should have to get it in place. When I finally got it put back together and the water turned back on…..it leaked worse than when I started…plus I hadn’t lined everything up correctly so the hot and cold were in the wrong places.

Back to the spider filled darkness to turn the water back off where I smacked my head on the very short door, and back to the bathroom to remove the cartridge…which I managed to break and could not remove. Are you a person that does crossfit? I am imagining something like pulling a tractor or doing those big rope things or maybe flipping tires. What I attempted in that bathroom to get that cartridge out counts as a crossfit workout. And I couldn’t remove it. Neither could my husband. We called in a local guy who had an actual cartridge remover and it took him about 15 minutes to get it out.

At this point I had gone to another local home improvement store and purchased another of the same exact cartridge which I then managed to place correctly. Unfortunately, it is still leaking but not quite as much. So, I called our regular company to come take a look at that and our upstairs sink to see if he could fix it. I paid him seventy bucks for him to tell me to call Moen and see if I could get a part from them. He said it is still leaking because the knockoff isn’t quite right. As far as our sink goes he suggested getting rid of our pedestal sink and putting in a vanity because the price of fixing the at least 25 year old stems would not be worth it.

Aye, yai, yai…I have called Moen for the part and it is being shipped, we are going to look at vanities soon, and I have learned my lesson. I don’t need to be Superwoman when there are talented, trained people out there who can fix the things that need to be fixed. But, I am still proud of my Superwoman sister and myself for trying.

National Pizza Day

Today is National Pizza Day! We have been training for this our whole lives! Or maybe not training but eating pizza on the reg.

In honor of this special day we tried out Longhollow Pizza and Pub in Goodlettsville. I’m not sure what we were expecting but it was much bigger than we anticipated and much brighter. For some reason I figured it would be dark and greasy.

Directions to the restroom

It was a little busy but our server got our drinks pretty quickly and left us to mull over the menu. There are many items on the menu that looked enticing but we decided to stick with pizza since that was the whole reason we were there. Next time we may check out sandwiches, wings, or calzone type sandwiches.

We started with a spinach bomb. It came out and actually looked kind of terrible. It was like a weird colored hockey puck However, we cut into it and the spinach, cheesy goodness exploded out and it was quite tasty. Next up was our pizzas. I do not like red sauce because it kills my stomach so my daughter and I got “Pretty Fly for a White Pie”. Chicken, white sauce, tomatoes, garlic, and a delicious crust. My hubs and son ordered a cheese pizza with several toppings. Both pizzas had plenty of toppings and tasted great. We finished our meal with a funnel cake. I have to say, that was not the highlight of the meal. It was a bit too dense for our liking. I guess we will have to try the cannoli next time.

Funnel cake

I hope you got the chance to eat pizza today but if not I am sure you can make it up sometime this week.

615 Waffles

One of my very favorite waffles in America was at a hotel in Texas. It was shaped like….you guessed it! Texas! I like waffles but my husband LOVES waffles. I heard the other day the the popular food truck 615_Waffles was opening a brick and mortar store tonight. My husband and son had been to the food truck before so we thought it would be worth a trip to the shop. As luck would have it we were the very first customers for their opening night!

We got to East Nashville about 3:30 so we had a little time to wander around and see what shops had opened and closed since the last time we were out there. We found a little tea and coffee shop called International Tea and Coffee Company. All of the tea is loose in jars, you choose what you want, take it to the counter, and they weigh it out for you. My daughter chose a tea and got an ounce to bring home.

The first thing you will notice when you walk in the door is the glorious scent of fresh baked waffles. You can choose from a regular liege waffle, churro waffle, bubble waffle, or vegan/gluten free waffles. You can choose your ice cream (supplied by the Pied Piper Creamery) and then choose your toppings. Or you can choose from their suggested menu. My husband and I both chose the Waffle Boss but I asked for no extra peanuts and substituted M n M’s instead. My son chose S’mores, and my daughter chose The Birds and the Bees (this is lavender and honey ice cream with fresh berries). When asked what the Birds and Bees meant my son said….uh birds and bees? It might be time for a little conversation.

While we were devouring our delicious ice cream topped waffles we had the opportunity to talk to Aisha, the owner of 615 Waffles and her business partner from FlyBoys (another popular food truck). They make everything in house and are hoping to try and get a vegan oreo icecream in the near future.

If you get a chance to get over to East Nashville 615 Waffles is located at 1100 Fatherland St St 102. You won’t be sorry. Plus they have a super cute Instagram worthy spot with waffle print pillows!

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