Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Quarantine Baking

I know I can't have been the only one doing some baking during the quarantine.  It's getting warmer now so there probably won't be as much, but I'm keeping the basics on hand because I know that there will be bananas that will be too ripe to eat and probably an excess of blueberries.  We have had our share of banana bread and muffins which I did not take pictures of.  I also didn't take pictures of the blueberry lemon bread that I made.  We even had banana blueberry bread.  There were a lot of other recipes that I would have liked to try but some of them needed pantry items that unfortunately were not in my pantry and I wasn't sending HWNSNBP out for those last minute ingredients, so we made do with what we had or planned ahead for a particular recipe.   

On one of his first shopping expeditions (he is the designated grocery shopper here), I did add a couple of things that we normally don't have on hand like sour cream and buttermilk.  We actually usually don't even have milk on hand as he typically will go out to Quick Check for his coffee in the morning, but self-serve coffee ended quite quickly at the beginning of this.  So he was forced to make coffee at home and thus we had the "smallest container of milk possible" on hand.  But even that needed to be used up before it expired.  

I have made this buttermilk pie before with good results.  So with the container of buttermilk about to pass its freshness date I added some frozen pie crusts to the shopping list that week.  


I was a little taken aback when I poured out the buttermilk to see the orange dots in it but after checking the internet I determined that it was still okay to use it.  They are simply little balls of the butterfat that has separated.  It didn't appear to make a difference in the finished pie.  


Since I had a second pie crust from that package, I decided to to try this butterscotch pie - recipe from my blogging buddy Claire in CA.  It helped to use up some of the regular milk that we had before it expired.  It was delicious but it wasn't set enough - probably not enough cooking time in the pot before the bake.  So the filling was a little loose, but we didn't care.


There were also the cookies I posted about earlier.  I've found that they come out much better straight from the freezer into the oven for twice the amount of baking time.  


Extra lemons went into making microwave lemon curd which went well with the lemon blueberry bread.  I also tried crockpot ranch pork chops - not a baking recipe but new to us - and they were good also.  

One of the other things that we tried, besides curbside pick-up from local restaurants was a home-delivery ice cream service - Scoops on Wheels.  They deliver once a week to specific areas and you have to get your order in be noon the day before and can pay through Paypal.  They e-mail you with an estimated time of delivery and ring the doorbell and also text you that the order is there.  Since we aren't going anywhere much, it was nice to have this every couple of weeks.  Now that it's getting warmer I think we will be opting out.  


This particular week they were out of their usual cardboard containers, but each time they come they're labeled with the flavor and an uplifting message handwritten on them too.


So all of this baking, while definitely enjoyed has also definitely added to what they're calling the "quarantine fifteen".  I can't say that I've gained 15 lbs., but there was a gain.  And with the rate that my hair is growing, and missing now my 3rd haircut, that's got to be good for a couple of pounds - right?!

Tell me, what have you been baking?

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend

Passing the display of American flags at Southern Regional High School honoring those lost in Iraq and Afghanistan is always breathtakingly sad.  There are presently 7030 flags there signifying each life lost.  The reason we celebrate this Memorial Day - to remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.  



We started the weekend early in Barnegat.  A brunch on Friday of Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese sandwiches on a roll.  With some strawberries and homemade iced tea.  Pork Roll is a Jersey thing and in our opinion delicious.  We save our indulgence for weekends mostly.  Here is my pork roll mandala. You have to put a cut in the slice or it will curl up like a cup and is harder to cook.





The skies were threatening on Friday, but we decided to take a ride to Great Bay Boulevard to look for birds and were rewarded for our effort with blue herons, egrets, and black-capped night-herons too.  Not to mention the seagulls along the way.  But no turtles yet.






 On the way back we stopped at Stewart's and had carside service.  I forgot to take a picture, but they have gone back to the trays that hook onto your car window so we can all be safe and keep a distance when ordering and eating in the car.  My first root beer float of the season did not disappoint.

We socially distanced with some friends on Friday night and then headed back home early Saturday morning and just putzed around for a while.

Yesterday we took a ride to Delaware to see my daughter and family.  We've all been adhering to social distancing and wearing masks out and the pediatricians of our grandkids have said that it's okay to see them as long as we've been limiting our contact outside of the home which we have.  We've been doing facetime calls but really missed the in person aspect.  We thought he might be frightened to see us in person, but he wasn't and warmed up very quickly.  He is such a happy little guy and such a joy.   


Yes, they do have a pool in the living room - it's a ball pool that came with a ton of soft plastic balls.  It can go outside when the weather is warmer, but for now, it really keeps him busy.  He loves just filling the box with the balls and then dumping them out......all over.  He's chattering away now, and is very fast on his feet. 



I'll post some of the art I've been working on a little later.  Gotta get outside and do some much needed weeding to round out this 4-day weekend.  


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Flyover and More

Last Tuesday the 177th Fighter Wing did a flyover New Jersey to honor the healthcare and essential workers in our state.  They published their fly route a few days before and it looked like they would be flying over Barnegat so I took a vacation day (I really did use a vacation day as we've been told to make sure we use them before the end of June) and we drove down there to be able to walk over to the dock and wait and see.  We weren't disappointed that they did fly over us, but some of the people who were also there seemed a little disappointed that there were only the four planes.  It was good to get out, but I have to note that we spent more time in the car that day than at the condo.  


We were treated to a couple visitors in the back outside.  I noticed two white things in the tall grass but from our first floor - which is actually one story up since the building is raised above the parking area - I couldn't really make out what those white things were.  Either they were some sort of rubbish that got stuck in the weeds or something else.  So I grabbed the camera and went upstairs to see what it was from a higher vantage point.  I was thrilled to see two black-capped night-herons through the phragmites.


They look much smaller in these pictures than they are in real life.  There is a ditch that they're facing so I'm thinking there must be some food source there - maybe something hatching this time of the year.  They don't typically nest on the ground so I think they were just resting there.


We went back down to the condo on the weekend.  Some of the beaches in NJ have been open for fishing, walking, and jogging - no sunbathing yet.  HWNSNBP wanted to try some surf fishing - which he did without any success.  But it was good for a change of scenery.  Here is the sunset from Friday night - still a spring sky.


And Friday happened to be National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and I just happened to have some frozen chocolate chip cookie dough balls in the freezer that I brought along to have for dessert.  I used a new recipe found here.  It called for apple cider vinegar and claimed to be soft and chewy.  They tasted good but mine did not come out chewy.  Perhaps baked too long?  




Sunday, May 17, 2020

Cards and Such

I promised one more recycled Christmas card from the JB challenge during Earth Day week.  This is it.  It uses another one of the teabag papers this time using some blue and green metallic watercolors.  The trees are just triangles cut from the insert of an old, old, old jewelry display box.  In this case it was from an old keychain that HWNSNBP found in his closet whilst we were cleaning it out.  I stamped and embossed in silver around the frame of the front and added a "star" die cut from the inside flap of an envelope.


The teabag painted.


The felted plastic used for the trees.


I was awaiting this gnome stamp set hoping to have it by Easter, but it didn't get here until afterwards.  So Spring Greetings it was for the kids.  I CASEd one of their samples. 



I had this layered die that I had purchase from AliExpress a while back and had been playing with it when I got it.  I have a couple of these circle pieces completed and this one came in handy to use for a birthday card for my uncle.  I noted inside that he could probably use a change of scenery.  The US map stamp I believe is from Stampin Up.



And just some playing with some oil pastels that I dug out of my stash.  They're not as creamy as I would like for blending, but I think I'll be experimenting some more with them.  


I have been doing a lot of daily quarantangling still.  I just haven't posted any lately.  I'll try to put together a post with some of my favorites.  I'm getting the gist that some of these free instructions will be ending soon since the stay home mandate is slowly getting lifted.  



Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, aunts, sisters, sister-friends.  All the women in our lives that help make us who we are.  



I had so much contemplative time coloring these butterfly wreaths in rainbow colors and then fussy cutting them out.  I did stamp them with fade out ink so they would appear more watercolored.  I only hope they got to where they were going by today.  



Friday, May 8, 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week


This week is typically celebrated as Teacher Appreciation Week.  Not being in the school made it a little difficult to show appreciation.  I decided to make tags/badges for all of our staff and mail  them to them.   I also sent a card along with the tags.  I had been going through boxes in my craft room and came across a box of cards that I had made, mostly for the Teapot Tuesday challenges several years ago and decided that they needed to be freed from their quarantine.  Those cards were created based on the teapot of the week and not specifically cards for occasions.  I didn't sign them, instead I taped a little note inside that said:

Hello Friend,

This card was made for a weekly online art challenge I did for several years called Teapot Tuesday.  The inspiration was the featured teapot of the week.

I made them and stashed them away and now I'm sending you this one in the hope that it will brighten your day.

It's not signed in case you want to pass it on.

Stay well friend.




I spent a few hours cutting, coloring, punching, and gluing until I had enough.


The only hold up was that I didn't have enough envelopes to mail them out.  So I had to order from Amazon and those envelopes got bounced around New Jersey for two days until they found our mailbox.  Seriously.  I was tracking the package and could not believe what I was reading.  The first day they were held up because of extreme weather.  I should note that there wasn't any extreme weather at the time.  They were at the UPS facility two towns away and then were sent to a facility in South Jersey.  They must have realized that they didn't belong there because the next morning they were shipped back to the closer facility.  So a promised two-day delivery took 5 days.  I shouldn't complain because after all, they were only envelopes.  But I was seriously considering starting to make some envelopes to make sure I could mail these so they'd get to the staff before the week was over.  I was pleased to find out today that some had already been delivered.


As we have a teacher in the family I can tell you that they are doing more work now than they did when they were in the classroom.  The amount of time planning, recording, documenting, contacting parents, contacting students, following up - all that in addition to taking care of their own families is monumental.  And they have risen to the task.  They deserve much appreciation.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Happy Birthday Little Guy

This is the second time we've had to celebrate a birthday apart from one of our grandsons.  This time it was the littlest who turned 1.  We've been facetiming almost daily but we're longing to actually be face-to-face and be able to hug him.  He's growing so fast.  


Just look at that face!  That's the little ball pit his mom and dad got early on in this quarantine and it does keep him busy.....sometimes.  


We're also lucky to get these little video snippets.  They sure do make us smile!  Hope this one gives you a little giggle.


Thursday, April 30, 2020

Nature's Birds and More

We've had one good day on each of the last two weekends and we got out in the car.  Our destination was a garden center as they are allowed to be open during this quarantine.  The first day we went we didn't stop at the center because it looked too crowded and at that time they hadn't required masks.  The second time we did stop with our masks and we were able to pick up some shrubs that we needed to replace in the yard.

Both times, on the way back home, we came back along the river.  And I had my camera with me just in case.  The first day I caught a glimpse of some kayakers on the river and HWNSNBP was okay with stopping so I could try to get some pictures of them.  They were very colorful.


But when I first got out of the car I hadn't seen all the herons that were down the embankment by the river.  There must have been 10 to 12 of them and most of them took off to other places along the river away from me.    And then I looked up.


And across to the other side. 


Another passerby.


Closer yet.


The second weekend we stopped around the same spot and got another treat.  This one reminds me of a choir director - all together now.



And this one in front of that tree with all the tree fungus growing on it.


Caught another one flying off.



We chased a sunset one night.  HWNSNBP came in the house from his workshop in the garage and said "you might want to take a look at the sky".  It's a hit and miss when he says that, but that night it was a hit and I coaxed him into driving the car in the direction the sun was setting.  

The first one from the left turn out of our driveway onto the road.  


 And out on the highway which had fewer cards at a few minutes to 8 than I've seen on the road after midnight on New Year's Eve.  Weird.


Some deer in the backyard.  Invasive creatures for us but I thought they looked pretty in this scene.


Mr. Blue at the suet cake.  


Mrs. Blue getting her turn.  We're waiting for the eggs to hatch any minute now.  


A little succulent nursery dish.  


An unusual visitor today - a rose-breasted grosbeak.  I've only ever seen one once before.  It took me a while to realize that this wasn't just one of the black, white, and red woodpeckers.  I ran for my camera in the other room and though he was still on the branch, he wouldn't turn around for me to get a picture of his beautiful rose breast before flying off.  I read on a local FB page this afternoon that a lot of other town residents were reporting seeing these birds at their feeders today too.  Could be they were making a stopover in Branchburg migrating home.