Tuesday, September 29, 2020

American ??? day 49

I'm trying to type today's synopsis and watch the presidential debate at the same time and am failing miserably. Ugh. Someone needs a lesson on not interrupting and on basic respect and on avoiding logical fallacies. 

Ivy made an icebox cake (dark chocolate cookies sandwiched between layers of whipped cream). Ivy sprinkled mini M&Ms on top...and guess what? All the kids ate a few bites and then said, "Ugh, this is way too sweet!" They left the rest on their plates. And this was after we'd made cookies with less sugar. I'm proud that my kids listened to their bodies! This was a good reminder why I rarely make American desserts.

Read more ...

Monday, September 28, 2020

American ??? day 48:

9,597 steps 

Mmmmm, another delicious dinner courtesy of Inga. She chose another Italian recipe: pork loin with juniper berries and bay leaves. We seared a pork loin in bacon fat, then added 2 chopped onions, 10 bay leaves, 1 Tbsp crushed juniper berries, and 2 cloves. Add 1 1/2 cups of white wine, cover, and simmer for 1 1/4 hours. Then take out the juniper berries and bay leaves and puree the remaining juices & onions into a sauce. Add salt to taste. Yum! 

Dessert was strawberries dipped in dark & white chocolate. We made a few hearts with the leftover chocolate. 

I got wise and fasted until 3 pm today, and then only ate a light snack, to be sure I wouldn't eat too much! (I usually fast until 1-2 pm.) 

I finished one of my Goddess creations (planned to be a series of 3). This is Te Fiti island. You know, from Moana 🙂 

Goddess #2, Pele, is almost finished except for one color of thread that will be highlights in her hair. I can't find this thread anywhere locally. 

And I haven't decided on my third Goddess. Maybe sun, moon, or water? If anyone has ideas or images to share, please let me know. 

Inga came up to me today: "Mama! Look at this hairstyle I invented for Ivy." Not bad!

Read more ...

Sunday, September 27, 2020

American ??? day 47

10,508 steps 

Dio's dinner was amazing! For the main dish, he chose braised beef in red wine & rosemary sauce from an Italian cookbook. It looks like beef & potatoes...but explodes with taste. You marinade the beef in red wine, garlic, crushed peppercorns, onions, carrots, & celery. Then you sear the beef with bacon fat and braise for 3 hours in the marinade + rosemary. Then you concentrate and thicken the braising liquid. 

We accompanied with beef with mashed potatoes...but not just regular mashed potatoes. No way. These potatoes were mixed with browned butter and sour cream. Zari kept sneaking her spoon into the bowl to snitch another taste, and another, and another. 

For dessert, Dio chose a 3-layer ice cream cake with a cookie crumb bottom. We made the dark chocolate cookies from scratch but bought the ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, mint chocolate chip). 

We all ate too much. Then we got invited to be taste testers for a "Great British Baking Show" episode featuring a Victoria sponge sandwich cake. Our neighbors are competing (virtually) with other friends. I shared a few bites with Zari. The cake was filled with homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam & buttercream icing. 

Don't worry; the kids found plenty of room in their dessert stomachs! 

Also Inga had a soccer game today and scored the only goal in her team. That's all for now. Bonne nuit!

Read more ...

Saturday, September 26, 2020

American ??? day 46

2,501 steps 

I felt like I was doing stuff all day, but apparently I didn't move my body very much! 

This morning was mostly working on Breech Without Borders administrative tasks. Then in the afternoon I did some sewing projects while Inga and Ivy worked on melty bead crafts. We basked in the afternoon fall sun. It's that perfect temperature where the air feels crisp, the sun is warm, and the shade is cool. 

I glazed another 10 windows on a French door. Ivy was bemused at how, in France, French doors are called "American doors" and French braids are called "African braids." French fries are just "fries." 

Zari is getting more serious about selling her hair. If she keeps it long enough to put into a ponytail, she will still have 30" left to sell! We took another round of pictures with her in her Halloween cloak. 

Before dinner, I asked each child to choose dinner & dessert recipes (it was time to go grocery shopping). We had cookbooks from all around the world opened and kids wanting to make everything they saw. I'm so looking forward to this week's meals! They are responsible for cooking their own menus, with me to supervise if needed. 

Yesterday we went to a friend's house (Zari's friend from school and our friends & work colleagues). Our kids were in heaven with a zipline, a trampoline, and two dogs. 

And finally a short video of Inga and Ivy playing after soccer practice. We biked there and back because Eric had the car at Zari and Dio's soccer game. These girls never run out of energy.

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

American ??? day 43

9,087 steps 

I've been reading a book by Lori Gottlieb: "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone." Highly recommend. It's about being a therapist, and at the same time going through therapy herself. 

I also read Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" out of curiosity. The kids and I watched her Netflix show 2 years ago and got inspired to tidy up our apartment, especially how we store their clothes. We have 1 dresser and 1 armoire for all of the kids' clothes, so we have to keep them minimal and organized. 

I like her approach to simplifying clothes and sentimental items. I'm not as convinced it would work on practical things, like tools or kitchen supplies. I don't necessarily feel a spark of joy from, say, a clothes iron or packing tape or a wheat grinder even though I find them very useful (in fact, all objects I used today). 

Zari, Dio, and Eric were at middle school soccer games this evening, so I took Inga and Ivy for a walk/bike. We found a huge caterpillar moving fast--for a caterpillar. Then we got home and I discovered I'd lost my key! Oops. The only place I took my phone armband off was to film the caterpillar, so logic dictated I'd find my key there. And I did. 

Ivy and Inga have been making creations with Perler beads--those melty plastic beads that you arrange on a grid and then iron until they melt together. Today I was running up to the attic every 10 minutes to iron something! They made 3D "food" for their neighbor friends, stacking the layers together with hot glue. They put together a gift bag full of today's creations: a hamburger with lettuce & cheese in a little cardboard box, a pizza with 4 slices in its own little custom-made box, a carton of French fries in a holder, and a gecko. See Less

Read more ...

Monday, September 21, 2020

American ??? day 41

7,413 steps 

Two trips to the hardware store, one trip to the grocery store, one trip to the super-mart store, one trip to pick up Zari after soccer practice, one trip to the mechanic. I'm glad we live in a small town where nothing is more than 2 miles away. But I'm even more glad that most days I don't have to get in the car at all. Today was not one of those days! 

Still, I'd rather be in Nice because we can walk everywhere. Here, I have to drive to the grocery/superstore/hardware store as they are on the outskirts of town in an industrial area. 

Zari and Dio's school is going back to full in-person every day instruction next week. No masks worn in the classrooms. This seems like absolute insanity! 

We just put them back in hybrid school this week, which I was *barely* comfortable with. And now...we're just throwing all these precautions to the wind? (Sure, the school has these elaborate cleaning and distancing protocols, but it's not going to do much good with 30+ student in a classroom every day and no one wearing masks any more.)

Read more ...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

American ??? day 40

11,414 steps 

Yesterday I worked all day on home improvement projects: reglazing four French doors and sanding down an outdoor bench. I got through 16 of the 40 windows in the French doors. My back was so stiff after leaning over for so long. Five of the windows were broken, so I busted them out and cleaned out the old glazing. 

Last year I repaired the bottoms of these French doors--they had all rotted away. I highly recommend Abatron wood restoration products. LiquidWood is a 2-part epoxy wood hardener that you apply on all the rotted parts. Then once it's hardened, you fill everything in with WoodEpox, a 2- part epoxy wood filler. I like this stuff so much that I brought some to France, too. I sanded down the wood filler but haven't trimmed the bottoms yet, as you can see in the picture. 

Ivy and Zari helped with the sanding. The bench had been sitting, neglected, for 9 years. The paint had long fallen off and the bare wood was black with mildew. It was SO satisfying to sand it all down to bright, bare wood. Thanks to having the right tools (random orbital sander & oscillating multitool with a sander attachment), I was able to sand every surface down, including between every slat. 

Today I ombre dyed 4 yards of fabric with the remaining dye bath. It just came out of the dryer and will get turned into 4 ring slings. 

And I made a huge pot of split pea soup. 

And I found some time to read outside in the sun. I just finished a YA trilogy that Zari had checked out: Ashfall, Ashen Winter, and Sunrise by Mike Mullin. Fast-paced, gruesome, and highly entertaining although not a book to read right before going to bed if you are sensitive to sleep disruptions.

Read more ...

Friday, September 18, 2020

American ??? day 38

16,493 steps 

Sometimes you dye a dress...and end up matching your bathroom! 

The color transitions were a bit more abrupt than I would have liked, but I am so happy that I can finally wear this dress! 

ps, the bathroom walls look more gradual in real life--the camera makes it seem like there are stripes of color.

Read more ...

Thursday, September 17, 2020

American ??? day 37

10,247 steps 

I filmed, edited, and produced 3 videos for Breech Without Borders today. Ivy and Inga were great helpers in one of the films...until their footage got lost. I had to redo it without them as they were playing with the neighbor kids. 

 I also got blood drawn, went grocery shopping, and dyed my dress a second time (I forgot the salt yesterday, so the first dye job was very pale). This turquoise dye is odd because it looks almost green on the fabric, while the leftover dye bath looks pure blue! It's almost as if the blue dyes don't want to adhere. 

Zari's covid test finally came back. We've been waiting all week even though Dio's and Eric's came in on Sunday. So she and Dio are both cleared to play soccer and to go to school. They're starting hybrid school tomorrow (every other day, classrooms at half capacity, fully masked). I hear our school board just voted to go back to all-day full-capacity school in 2 weeks, which seems absolutely insane! So we might have to rethink our plans yet again. 

Our grocery store had a half-price sale on Endangered Species chocolate bars...so yeah, I bought a whole case! Mostly 88% cacao, a few 72%. Priorities.

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

American ??? day 36

23,274 steps 

Went running in the morning, recorded a presentation for the 2020 MANA conference, went to the bank, spread several cubic yards of mulch, ombre dyed a dress that I've had for years and never worn because it was too see-through, helped kids with homework, tidied the house, folded several loads of laundry, went on a walk, and spent a few hours this evening catching up with one of Eric's best friends back from university. 

Ivy and I both have blue hands. 

Time to take a break!

Read more ...

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

American ??? day 35

8,210 steps 

Zari planned dinner tonight: Avocado-Mango Salad With Blue Cheese, Bacon And Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. We added grilled chicken breasts to make it a meal. 

The kids were moaning in delight, rhapsodizing on how amazing it was. 

Inga requested "hair like Ada Hegerberg," a Norwegian soccer player. 

And photos from a few days ago, when we had our sourdough fail. The silicone molds worked great!

Read more ...

Monday, September 14, 2020

American ??? day 34

My fitness tracker battery is dead... 

I was busy last night applying for CPD from the ACM (continuing professional development from the Australian College of Midwifery). And then bam! I had another horrible bout of insomnia last night. It's not so bad the first few hours. Then I start getting so bored and so tired but my mind won't turn off and I just want it all to STOP. 

Today's sourdough was an absolute runny mess. I didn't fold it as much as I should have last night--I forgot about the dough for a few hours. You can see the "boule" soon after folding and shaping. It's not a boule anymore; it's a blob. (Edit: I can't transfer the files off my phone, so you can't see it until tomorrow's post.) We salvaged the dough by putting it into silicone molds of various shapes. The buns were dense but still delicious and crunchy. 

At dinner we discussed The 10 Commitments (http://humanistcommitments.org/). I like how these value are so simple and obvious, but putting them together forms a very powerful message. As does doughnut economics; I look at it and think, "Well, duh!" and "Of course!"
Read more ...

Saturday, September 12, 2020

American ??? day 32

9,746 steps 

3 trips to the mulch place for a total of 9 cubic yards. We've spread half of it so far. I'm tired! 

Inga had a soccer game in town. She requested Ada Hegerberg's hairstlye: a sideways French braid across the front, swept into a pony tail in the back. (Her team won 6-0, with Inga scoring 2 goals.) 

Ivy requested a "crown braid with roses." She's copying a hairstyle of 4-year-old Zari at my older sister's wedding. 

Our new neighbors (family with 5 kids, replacing the family with 7 kids) came over to play capture the flag. They discovered a well-camouflaged toad sitting on the fairy house's ladder. 

I woke up in the middle of the night with an out-of-the blue panic attack. (Long back story...but I started having panic attacks back in 2018 when Eric and I were apart for an entire semester. Apart, as in I had the 4 kids in France and he was teaching in the States. I haven't had any panic attacks for 2 years until last night.) It wasn't very intense as panic attacks go, but I didn't sleep much after. 

If you've ever dealt with panic attacks, you'll know what I'm talking about. I've learned it's useless trying to figure out why and just to accept them. But still...why? I'm going through these past few weeks and can't point to anything exceptionally stressful. 

Dio has been really withdrawn lately. I think he's suffering the worst from the social isolation but doesn't have the self-awareness to understand why he's feeling that way. Instead of joining the other kids when they're playing, he often stays in his room, staring at his computer. 

I insist that he can only play games once he's done with his school work and reading, so in *theory* he's working on school...but mostly he's staring at the screen despondently as it's really hard to figure out what to do for school. Even I have difficulty navigating all of his classes and assignments and passwords. And sometimes he just watches inane videos even though he's not supposed to. We've had several talks about it this past week.

Read more ...

Friday, September 11, 2020

American ??? day 31

10,492 steps 

One month back in the States. France's covid-19 infection numbers are exploding again, back to the highs we saw in March and April. However, the deaths haven't risen as steeply as they did during the first wave. I wonder what the numbers will look like in a few weeks. The US rates are still much higher per capita, to put things into perspective. 

Today I drove around a big, battered dump truck. The windows and locks are manual. Very old school. I feel like I'm an actor playing at being a country girl. My first real car was a little Ford Ranger pickup, so I'm familiar with driving trucks. But this truck is definitely bigger and badder. 

Why the truck? We're spreading mulch. It's great fun for the kids, too. They found several grubs inside the mulch. Inga: "They look like aliens with their white bodies and red eyes! 

We took a trip to the library yesterday and came home with around 30 books. Zari might last a week if she doesn't read too fast. Inga will be close behind her.

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

American ??? day 29

7,380 steps

Zari and Dio had to miss their soccer games because they still have stuffy noses and/or sore throats. 

I'm working on Ivy's 3rd fabric creation, "fire," and I think I might have gone a bit overboard. We could have done a simple fire--maybe a few different colors for the flames--I had this idea of depicting the goddess Pele. It's turning out just how I envisioned it but it's way more complex than the other two I've made. Inga assures me it's a masterpiece. 

One of my sisters recommended the book Let's pretend this never happened. I started reading it and passed it along to Zari. I keep hearing her laughing or saying "eeewwwww" and "uhhhh....what????!!! Is this real?" 

A picture of Ivy's scavenger hunt finds from yesterday, and another picture of me and Zari working from a few days ago.

Read more ...

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

American ??? day 28

14,621 steps 

After 4 weeks of putting it off, I finally went running. Blame it on covid inertia? I miss our schedule in France, where I drop the kids off at school at 8:30 and go on a run right after. 

Eric did all of his classes via Zoom as a precaution. We had to tiptoe around the house during class hours. 

Ivy designed a scavenger hunt this morning. I couldn't convince Dio to do it as he's still feeling unwell, and Zari was busy with school work. Inga got mad at Ivy because Ivy finished first. Inga definitely has a "flash flood" temper. Quick to come, quick to dissipate. 

A video of soccer practice in the evening, followed by a few minutes at the playground.

Read more ...

Monday, September 07, 2020

American ??? day 27

16,257 steps 

We had a fire pit that was close to one of our neighbor's house, and apparently the fires would aggravate their asthma. No problem--we'll just move it! So this morning we relocated it about 150 feet away. I like the new spot much better, plus we finally found a place for an unused old bench that was on the edge of our property. 

Despite some light rain, we had a celebratory fire and ate Smores with our new neighbors. (In case you're wondering, I set up 2 Smore stations, one for each family. Separate food, roasting sticks, etc.) 

Inga and Ivy practiced whittling. Inga wanted to make a bow and arrow and kept holding up her crooked stick, asking, "Does this look like an arrow now?" Sorry, no! She eventually turned it into something else. 

I found an old frame in a box in our attic that was the right size for a stitching Dio made a few years ago.

Read more ...

Sunday, September 06, 2020

American ??? day 26

 9,952 steps 

Eric and Inga are on the mend, although Dio is still feeling icky. I'm trying to remember what we did most of the day...oh yes, house cleaning in the morning, followed by watching a documentary about raising and training seeing eye dogs called "Pick of the Litter." 

In the afternoon? Piano practicing, reading, cleaning, talking to family on Zoom. Generally a laid-back day. Eric made chicken soup upon Dio's request. After dinner we went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. I weeded while everyone else played soccer in the front yard. (Story of my life, but I really like weeding.) 

I convinced Zari to come on a walk with me at dusk. I was talking to Zari about a book I was currently reading, telling her she'd probably like it. As I was describing it, she said, "hmmm, I read a book kind of like that recently." Turns out she HAD read it last month. I told her, "There's a saying that great minds think alike!" She enjoys fantasy and science fiction, as long as there's not too much romance. Cue the gagging and shuddering. 

Here are pictures of the latest stitchings and art pieces that we hung up. Ivy and Inga made these 3 or 4 years ago, and we finally did something with them. And I finished "air" for Ivy's room, the 2nd in a series of the 4 elements. Inga drew the hummingbird and flowers for me.

Read more ...

Saturday, September 05, 2020

American ??? day 25

Sunny and dry today, with wind chasing away the bugs. I love being able to keep my windows open day and night. 

Today was a "get things done" day for me. I purchased new bolts, nuts, and washers for our old play set that we finally put back together. Ivy helped ratchet the bolts tight. The tower was still a bit wobbly even after tightening, so I reinforced two of the sides with diagonal cross-braces. We also put new washers on the garden hoses and set up the sprinkler in the back yard where we had reseeded. 

With Zari's help, I climbed up a ladder and trimmed some of the lower branches on the maple tree in the back yard. Then I got out our extension ladder and cleaned out the dryer vent. When I lifted up the ladder, I got an unexpected dirt shower. I'm still scratching dirt out of my scalp. 

And I made 4 big sourdough loaves that turned out perfectly! I tweaked my recipe (yet again) and I think I've hit the perfect one. 

I was inspired by this way of doing sourdough but 800 g water per 1000g flour turned into a soupy disaster. Even with all of the proper techniques, I couldn't get the dough to hold together. It was more liquid that solid. 

I brought the water down to 725g and...success! I like the long overnight rise with relatively little starter, then the daytime "nap" in the fridge and baking right around dinnertime. 

My sourdough (I always double this recipe and it makes enough for a week):
50 g starter (pulled straight from the fridge, no need to wake it up)
1 Tbsp salt (around 22 g)
725 g water
100 g whole wheat flour
900 g all-purpose flour

Start in the evening. The first 2 hours fold every 15-20 mins, then cover and let rise overnight. Shape into boules the next morning as per the directions (2 large or 3 small). Cover and let rest in the fridge until late afternoon.

Take the boules out of the fridge at the same time that you turn the oven on to pre-heat. Bake 440 F (convection) for 40-45 min. I don't have a Dutch oven so I bake 2 loaves at once on parchment paper, on top of a pizza stone. I have an old metal pan on the bottom rack, into which I throw a cup of water when I put the loaves in.

I have one banneton basket and use random mixing bowls for my other loaves. I line the mixing bowls with a cloth napkin and use rice flour, not wheat flour, to keep the boule from sticking to the cloth. (I make my own rice flour in a coffee grinder).

(There are lots of sourdough techniques that I haven't elaborated here. The Perfect Loaf is a great place to start for folding and boule shaping techniques.)

Eric sunbathed while I was working. Well deserved and probably the best medicine for an illness that's going around the family. Whatever it is, Vitamin D will probably help. We can't get tested for covid-19 this weekend--all local testing places are closed--so patience, rest, and sunlight are our protocols. Inga, Dio, and Eric all have something involving a stuffy/runny nose; sore throat; fever (Dio and maybe Eric), coughing (Eric), and general malaise and body aches. I've felt "off" the past few days but no specific symptoms. 

Speaking of Vitamin D; I just read about a new double-blind RCT out of Spain with covid-19 patients. Even with the relatively small numbers, the study showed significant results with the group treated with Vitamin D, versus the control group. I'll be following larger RCTs with interest. 

I found several things for Zari and me at a thrift store, plus more old picture frames to repurpose. I altered a pair of pants this evening and need to shorten a pair of shorts for Zari tomorrow. I just finished framing two stitching projects that Inga and Ivy made several years ago. Pictures tomorrow as it's getting late and I want to lie in bed and do NOTHING for a little while.

Read more ...

Friday, September 04, 2020

American ??? day 24

 Ivy's test came back negative. I'm not surprised as she had a fever for only half a day with no other symptoms. But...Eric has a bad sore throat and has started coughing. Ugh. Again, normally something like this wouldn't even ping my radar. 

It's been a busy few days getting our online courses ready to launch at Breech Without Borders. I'm hoping to spend most of tomorrow away from the computer. I have all sorts of home improvement things that need attention. 

This video isn't anything remarkable...just a few things we did this afternoon (soccer training in our yard, going on a family walk/bike ride).

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

American ??? day 22

10,588 steps 

I worked all day, and all evening, and most of the night on getting our Breech Without Borders courses ready to launch. I have one more video encoding (I had to go back and do a small edit) and then we should be DONE! 

I feel like I haven't even come up for air all day. The kids were on their own for school and lunch and everything else. Sorry! I took one break with Inga and Ivy to go on a walk. 

I have promised myself that I will not work any more tonight.

Read more ...

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

American ??? day 21

11,371 steps 

We're sitting on our front porch watching a rainstorm. It's the first rain we've had since we've been back. A long time for the green midwest. The mosquitoes won't let us stay long. I just saw a bat swoop past and an owl glide up into a nearby tree. 

Today's excitement: catching a bat that had roosted outside Ivy's bedroom. It was sleepy--like teenager at 6 am sleepy--and didn't want to move even when I released it from the towel. It finally took off and settled on our front porch. I guess flying back to its home was too much trouble for this sleepy bat. It stayed on our porch all day (we kept checking) and finally woke up and went out for dinner this evening. 

We tested Ivy locally this afternoon. With our university campus dealing with covid-19 cases, we wanted to be sure we're not contributing to the problem. Ivy was worried about having the swab stuck far up her nose, but they use a newer testing method that only involves swabbing inside each nostril. Over and done quickly with us still in the car. "It didn't hurt! It actually felt kind of good," she said. 

I spent a long time on the phone today trying to find which covid-19 testing place charged my insurance the least. You know, trying to be a fiscally responsible citizen and all that. I couldn't get any good estimates on cost. 

The local hospital said it was $375 if you're coming in without insurance, but it would be a different cost with insurance (but they couldn't say how much until after we took the test). 

The other local testing place, an urgent care clinic, charges around $130 for the test if you aren't insured. But again, they couldn't say the price with insurance. They contract with LabCorp, so I called the lab and asked how much the test would be. And they couldn't tell me because it depended on which insurance company you have. I asked, "If I tell you which insurance company I have, can you tell me the price?" Sorry, no. They cannot. 

Then there was a "free" testing place 30 miles away that does tests for free. But if you have insurance, they will bill your insurance an unspecified amount. Keep in mind--my insurance covers covid-19 testing at 100% right now. We are lucky. I was just trying to save my insurance company some money. And I couldn't even do that!

Read more ...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...