Posted in Around the House, Everywhere But Home, Family Time, Friend Time, health, I Am Traveling, I Really Do Cook, My Own Personal Weirdness, Writing

Lisa’s Writing Vacation

AKA: How I managed to spend a whole week NOT writing

This was a hard week for me. As I’ve mentioned before, my half-brother Ray passed away last month. Last Thursday I drove to DFW and dropped my car off at Katherine’s and she drove me to the airport. I hopped on a flight to California in order to help out Ray’s widow, Susan, and kids getting reading for the memorial service. I’d brought my writing stuff with me, hoping to get to spend some of my free time writing, but there honestly wasn’t any minutes to spare.

I got to their house after a long day of driving and flying and with a negative time change, I was so very tired and it was only 8pm. I tried to stay up and talk with everyone, but it was no use – I was in bed by 9:30pm PST.

The next day I woke up at 4:45am, but managed to coax myself back to sleep until about 6:30am. I went to make coffee, but my nephew ran out and shooed me away, telling me that his dad always got up and said “Make the coffee, Joe,” and he was determined to keep on making the coffee, even without his dad around to remind him. Just like that, I could hear my brother in my little nephew’s voice and see him in his every movement. I had to shoo myself away before I cried all over the little guy.

We spent the rest of the day taking kids to and from school, organizing, then cleaning rooms of the house and the patio so it could be all ready for the memorial service the next day.

My biological maternal grandparents

The next day I was again awake at 4:45am, but this time I got up, made my own coffee, and spent some time taking photos of photos in my birthmom’s room (which was where I was staying). Her walls are absolutely covered in photos, many of which I’ve never seen before. I stood up on a stool and angled myself this way and that to get the best photos possible. Once the other’s were up, I started decorating the house with photos of my brother and his family, and then put out the tablecloths, and washed up all the dishes and platters I thought we might need. An hour before people were due to arrive, the first visitor showed up. He was the ex-husband of my brother’s housemate and since he was early, we put him to work carting drinks into the house, setting up the coolers, and re-installing the door to the garage that Joe had taken off a few weeks ago (and was unable to put back up alone).

After that, everyone else started arriving and over the course of the day I manned the buffet table, meeting many members of the housemate’s family and Susan’s family. There were even some little kids there. Everyone brought fruit. It was fruitopia. The day spun by so very quickly. We were unable to have the main part of the memorial service, due to some clerical errors that kept Susan from being able to get Ray’s death certificate (and therefore also his remains), so the little tree she was going to plant in his honor remained on her front porch. A few of us spoke about Ray, even his little son Jeff, and we all cried. It was nice to meet so many people that loved my brother and sister-in-law.

Because it was also the busiest day of the band year back home, I skipped out on the early evening’s visitor (who had come late due to his work schedule). I went back to my room and watched the livestream of my kids marching at UIL Contest and then looked for photos of them from the Rose Parade earlier in the day. I texted with them, congratulating them on their Sweepstakes win. And then I went back out and joined the conversation.

My kids at UIL Marching Contest.

The next morning I did not get up early. We all got up a little later and then moseyed over to church, which was part Southern Baptist-part rock band church-part surfer dude speak. Everyone there was really nice and no one bugged me about my mask. After church was lunch and after lunch my best friend from high school came and scooped me up and we ran off to Starbucks for a while. I was sad to leave her when our time was up, but I love how easily we slipped back into that friendship for a couple hours.

After that, Susan and I loaded up the kids and went to the beach. We didn’t stay long, just long enough for Joe and I to get thoroughly soaked from the waist down and for Jeff to lecture us on the improbability of us turning into merpeople and Susan to get creeped out by some weirdo. A couple hundred beach pictures in ten minutes, really. But it was good. I always feel better at the beach.

I am at Imperial Beach with my nephews.

Susan dropped us back at the house and stayed just long enough to say hi to the chair lady. Then she drove back out to pick up Angela. I made my “famous” chicken spaghetti and “Aunt Mandy’s” green beans for a late “fancy” dinner. I laughed at that. Chicken spaghetti is the easiest thing ever. I taught Joe my secret sauce, just in case they liked it. Oh boy, did they! Jeff said I took him to “Flavor Town” and “Delicious Land.” I’m so happy it was well-receieved.

We went to bed very late that night, in some part due to a conversation that needed to take place out of the earshot of the children. We had to wait for Joe to fall asleep. In the end, an agreement was reached about what would happen with the kids if something happened to Susan. It was a hard conversation, but necessary. I was really glad to be included.

The next morning we all got up at the crack of dawn so Susan could drop me off at the airport and then take the kids straight to school. I waited in the longest TSA line I’ve ever seen, but made it to my gate all right. The flight itself was mostly okay, but there was a medical emergency towards the end in first class, so we ended up spending quite a while at the gate waiting for that to get sorted out. Then Katherine picked me back up and we had a late lunch and then went to rest at her house for a while before I drove home. I was feeling so foggy and out of it, I was worried about driving home. I did end up making it home okay, but I had to stop for a while halfway home and walk around for a bit to get my brain back online. So I didn’t get home until about 7:30pm (I’d expected to be home by 5pm).

Katherine and I tried to make up for me not remembering to get a photo with Emily.

Tuesday I spent cleaning my entire house. Being away from home on a super busy weekend makes the mess so much worse. But I was also still feeling so groggy and weird that it was hard to get anything done. I started to worry that I was coming down with a cold or something. I attended my Spiritual Practices group, but I absorbed none of the conversation, alas.

Wednesday morning was my pill box refill day. I couldn’t find the pills I needed to fill the box. I finally realized that the reason I was so out of it was that I had picked up my medicine at the pharmacy before I left on the trip, but had forgotten to put that one in the box I took with me. So I’d skipped it for a couple days by accident. (And now I know just how essential it is to my health and well being.)

I taught a lesson at the Wednesday Whatchamacalit group that day and it went well. That is detailed in an earlier post. Later. I spent the rest of the day resting/spending time with my younger kids because I knew that the next day I had some more big cleaning to do.

Thursday I went over to the David House and helped him get it cleaned up because my dad was coming to visit. David was supposed to have finished moving rooms before my dad came to town and he had not finished. Plus there was resetting the room he’d moved out of and resetting the closet of the room that stored the stuff that used to be in that room and putting stuff from the room he was moving to into that closet. If it sounds circuitous, it really was.

After that was the recycling. I don’t think anyone has taken the recycling out of the house since January. I filled my entire Jeep up from top to bottom and back to front. It was only about 2/3 of the total recycling. I had other errands to run, though, so I did that and never got back to check on the David House.

This morning I got up and realized that I’d never gotten around to doing the critiques for the Pineywoods Critique Group, which was just as well because I hadn’t sent anything in over the last weekend, either. So the spouse and I went and got haircuts, which we have literally never done at the same time before. Then we ran a couple errands and ate lunch. One of the errands was picking up all the boxes of history for the ETWG Historian position before the current Historian moved and took them with her.

This was the last thing on my To Do list for the day besides feeding and chaperoning the band. It’s also the first real writing I’ve done all week. I’m not sure I’ll have time during the weekend to write, unless I am very careful with my time. We have the game tonight, my dad in town, an afternoon church party tomorrow, dinner at my dad’s and games, then church Sunday morning, and an ETYO concert Sunday afternoon. I may not get anything sent in to the critique group this weekend either. Chapter Nine of CQ needs re-drafting. Maybe I’ll send them some more poetry.

Posted in Around the House, I Really Do Cook, My Own Personal Weirdness

St. Patrick’s Day, social distancing version

Today has been weird, y’all. Super weird. My Tyler Critique Group canceled their meeting, which I’d expected, as all four of us have immune system issues or family members that do. Nick’s workplace said they’d let anyone with immunocompromised family members start working from home. The kids and I set up a desk area for him in the corner of our bedroom next to my desk so he’d have a quiet place to work.

This used to be the reading nook.
See? Right next to me. Also, he will need both lamps. That corner is dark, oddly enough.

Since I couldn’t go out for supplies like I wanted to, I had to be a little weirder with my St. Patrick’s Day things than I normally would have. We did start the day like normal, with Irish music blaring out of the living room speakers. I did not have an Irish style breakfast planned, however. I did have white chocolate fudge makings, though, so we made that instead.

Of course we made it green. 🙂
It tasted good, but never set unless thoroughly refrigerated. Two minutes on the counter and it was ooze again.

I ran around the house like this, pinching everyone that wasn’t wearing green, which meant Nick. I also made people randomly wear headbands or hats with shamrocks on them. There were many complaints.

For lunch, it was green mac-and-cheese. Usually I don’t have to do lunch on St. Patrick’s Day because they are usually in school. No one would eat it. Ah, me.

By dinner I was too exhausted to do the kind of in-your-house- pub-crawl like my awesome friend Amie did at home. Instead, I sat on the couch and Nick occasionally brought me an Irish beer. Wheeeeeeee!

Dinner was an Irish style dish that I cannot spell now that I have had beer. Have a photo instead.

Hope you had a lovely St. Patrick’s Day! Good night!

Posted in Around the House, Family Time, I Really Do Cook, Parenting, What I Love

Halloween 2019

Our Halloween… over at my parents house on Woodhaven, of course. 🙂 We had a pretty good turnout, but still had one whole bag of candy leftover at the end of the night. We watched HalloweenTown, but not HocusPocus because my children have decided to rebel and say they “hate” HocusPocus. Ah well, at least we had the traditional Taco Soup.

Posted in Around the House, Friend Time, I Really Do Cook, Lifelong learning, Music, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

Nurturing Oneself

I had an early brunch with a dear, dear friend of mine this morning. As we sat in her sweet little breakfast nook with tea, boiled eggs, and stollen, we chatted about how the year was going and she asked me what I was doing to nurture myself. Honestly y’all, I babbled out an answer full of things that made her go “THAT’S what you find nourishing?” Things like scheduling things, making sure everything had a task associated with it, being better organized, etc. She expressed a bit of doubt with my methods, but being the gracious hostess she is, she just let it go and the topic moved onward.

I got home a while later and really started thinking about it. I am not really a planner. Oh, I try and try to be, but in the end every plan lasts a few days and then I scrap it. So I spent some time just meditating on the idea of nurture and what it meant to me.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Nurturing me means extra time around everything so I can digest experiences. Yes, that means a bit of planning, but it is soooo good to have time around things and not just be chock-a-block busy.
  2. Nurturing me also means time for music, which I have not been making. The words “I haven’t played the piano since I got these progressive lenses” slipped out of my mouth and now that I’ve ruminated on it, I got the glasses in January (9 months ago) and haven’t really touched the piano since my mom died.  Hmmm….
  3. Nurturing me means time to read. I have “Time to Read” in my Habit Tracker, but how much have I really been reading? None. Like one day a week, which is very close to none for a Lisa.
  4. Nurturing me also means eating foods I actually like. My husband is very good about cooking dinner, but he is very bad about making food that I really am fond of. Part of that is that the kids hate everything and part of that is that we really, Nick and I, have a totally different palate. I’ve been cooking my own lunches this week and eating all the things I love, like mushrooms and onions and zucchini and sweet potatoes and cabbage, and have been so happy at lunch time!

Anyways, that’s what’s on my mind today. Time to go eat the mushroom/onion/zucchini/feta dish that’s been sauteing while I type. 🙂  Hope y’all have a good afternoon!

Posted in I Really Do Cook

Sausage Mushroom Breakfast Casserole

I made a really delicious breakfast casserole this morning. Our picky eaters are out of town, so we are able to eat mushrooms and onions again. Let the rejoicing begin!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of an 8 inch round onion focaccia bread
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups of milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb mix (mine has oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, and marjoram)
  • salt and pepper to taste (mine was light on salt and heavier on pepper)
  • 1 long piece of beef sausage (from those that come 2 to a package)
  • 4 ounces of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • a few dashes of parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup or so of shredded cheese, this time I used a Colby jack/Monterary jack, next time I’m trying feta

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 in casserole with your favorite oil.
  2. Whisk eggs, mustard, and milk in a bowl.
  3. Cut foccacia into 1 inch chunks and place in bottom of casserole.
  4. Pour egg mixture over it and set it aside.
  5. Slice mushrooms, not too thin, into 1/2 inch or so sized pieces.
  6. Cook mushrooms with the Italian Herb Mix and salt and pepper until they are nice and yummy.
  7. Slice the sausage while the mushrooms cook, then when the mushrooms are just about done, add the sausage to the pan and cook for a few more minutes.
  8. Pour the mushroom-sausage mix into the casserole, giving it a bit of a stir to incorporate the mushrooms and sausage a bit into the bready goodness.
  9. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on first, then the shredded cheese.
  10. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting into it.

 

It was delicious! 🙂

 

 

 

Posted in I Really Do Cook

Yummy Food Thoughts

Had this beautiful realization today that I could cook all those veggies that I love that the kids don’t during my lunch time. 🙂 Like onions, mushrooms, cabbage….Why have I never thought of this before?!?

Posted in I Really Do Cook, My Own Personal Weirdness, Parenting

Protein Enriched Muffins of Joy

You know me and my muffin experiments. Today I was trying to make healthier ones that tasted good and were a bit more fiber and protein filled (no one ate veggies yesterday because we were away from home and the food choices were not ours and today is a LONG day). The kids ate these super fast and raved about them.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Dry:
1 1/2 cup generic white flour
1/2 cup chocolate flavored protein powder
1 serving scoop orange flavored fiber powder
1 TBL ground flaxseed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 TBL aluminum free baking powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Wet:
1/2 tsp orange flavoring
1 cup 2% milk
1 large egg
2 TBL expellier pressed canola oil

Mix the dry and wet separately, then combine, scoop into greased muffin tins, and bake for 12 minutes or until nicely browned on top. These get pretty brown and slightly shiny, unlike my regular muffins.

Posted in Around the House, I Really Do Cook, What I Love

Pumpkin Shaped Waffles!

Our Secret Somebody sent us another gift in the mail. Nick looked at it and said “We don’t need another waffle maker. What are we going to do with it; it’s so small.” This was my response. (Two kids have already been through and eaten the other 2/3 of the pile)D8674D7E-4932-4C8A-ACF2-1A1EF84DDC56

Pinterest, Food Network, & Snacks, Oh MY!

I’ve been struggling with making lunches and snack interesting again. I’ve looked to Pinterest and Food Network and Bento Mama home pages. I’ve tried so many different things. Some, like the pizza bagels (easy peasy: toast a bagel, put it in the lunch box, add a tub of pizza sauce and a tub of shredded cheese and send to school for kids to assemble) and the Turkey/Cheese Skewers (with festive skewers ordered online) have been instant hits. Others, like the Cherry Angel Food Dump Cake (again, easy: dump one can cherry pie filling into greased 9×13 pan, dump box of angel food cake mix on top of that, dump one stick of butter on top of that. cook for 40 minutes at 350 degrees), no one loved (it fizzed in your mouth. it was disturbing).

Today I made a version of Puppy Chow that I’ve taste tested before the kids get home. It’s got chocolate and peanut butter and bits of dried fruit and random dry cereal. It has a couple substitutions for kids likes/dislikes, but I’m still thinking it won’t be a hit. Or maybe it will be. I just don’t know.

Posted in Friend Time, I Really Do Cook

Neighbor Bread

Here’s the story: on Wednesday morning, I went to my friend Stephanie J’s house for coffee. She served the MOST DELICIOUS coffee cake EVER. It turned out to be a recipe one of the neighbor’s had given her…and she had used figs that another neighbor had given her to make it. Wednesday night I was over at the (recipe) neighbor’s house for a wine tasting party and asked for the recipe. She laughed and introduced me to Debbie, who is her “neighbor” at work who had given HER the recipe.  Hence the name Neighbor Bread. So I posted about it to facebook and this recipe now has a following. I’m posting it here in slightly edited form (It was originally sent in to a newspaper and “my” copy of it has the newspaper bit at the top, with bits crossed out, underlined, and whited out & written over, with copious notes at the bottom.).

Neighbor Bread

AKA Fresh Fig Bread with Sherry

Spread the slices with cream cheese or butter and serve at breakfast or teatime, or for dessert.  Moist, sweet, and lightly perfumed, fig bread goes well with tea, apple juice, or sherry.

 

1 ½ cups stemmed and coarsely

chopped ripe dark or light figs

1 teaspoon  each ground cinnamon and baking soda
¼ cup dry sherry ½ teaspoon each ground nutmeg and salt
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts ½ cup salad oil
2 large eggs

Combine figs and sherry; let stand at least 15 minutes. Mix together flour, walnuts, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.

In a mixer bowl, beat sugar, oil, and eggs to mix. Blend in flour mixture; gently stir in figs and sherry. Pour batter into a well-greased 5×9 inch loaf pan. Bake in 350 degree oven until bread feels firm when gently pressed in center, about 1 ¼ hours. Let cool in pan 10 MIN. Invert onto rack to cool. Slice to serve. To store, wrap airtight and keep at room temperature up to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Makes about a 2-pound loaf, or 12 servings. —Lee Jordan, Concord, California.

Notes on page from Connie (as passed on from her friend Debbie):

-can substitute port for sherry (or marsala)

-if using “cooking sherry” omit the salt

-place wax paper along bottom of pan & grease generously

-takes about 16-17 small figs, or 2 cups untrimmed figs

-can substitute pears for figs (takes about 3 pears- peel them)

-maybe add extra yolk if using pears.


Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂