Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Year 2020 - A Basic Review

 Right after Christmas everyone starts to write a wrap-up post of the current year. I think with it having been the year of COVID-19 everyone is even more ready to wrap-up the year. 

I would like to re-cap this year, just for posterity. 

January - Was pretty normal, nothing really exciting or notable happened that I can remember, just getting ready for a family reunion in February and trying to make sure that my mom would stay healthy enough that she would be able to make it.

February - Lisa and I took a trip in February to Oxnard, California. It's really a beautiful place and this is where we stayed. The Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort, we had a great time, even though it was a working trip for my sister. 

March - This was a BIG month for us since we had a huge family reunion with my mother's side of the family! We stayed at another gorgeous place, Blue Water Resort & Casino in Parker, Arizona.

We had a fabulous time and no one had more fun, or were happier, than my mom and her brother Tino! These are the last two remaining siblings in a family of ten siblings. My mom is the baby of the family. 

Little did we know that lurking right around the corner was something that was going to change our lives drastically and I am so glad we didn't know and were able to share in this wonderful time spent with family. 

On March 18, 2020 California's governor Gavin Newsom issued a "Shelter-In" order due to COVID-19 or Corona Virus. 

He ordered all non-essential people to stay home. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about that day because I blogged about it HERE, but suffice it to say that I was sent home lickety-split by the company I work for and as of today I am still working from home. That's nine months people! Nine months! If I could still make babies I could have made a baby by now!

I will say that I am so lucky to work for the company I work for. I've not had to worry one tiny, teeny-weenie bit about money or losing my home or my car or not having enough to eat or not being able to pay for heat, electricity, cell phone, etc. I'm so lucky that during a time when things are as bad as they are, they have not been "bad" for me. We did have a Covid scare with my son, but thankfully he tested negative. 

I have had relatives that have had the disease and even though some of them were pretty sick they have recovered or are on the road to recovery, I only have one cousin that is still in the hospital on a respirator/ventilator, not sure which and even though we're told his vital signs all look good, he still can't breath on his own. 

April - April 1st was my daughters birthday and it was sad to not be able to go out to a nice restaurant and have a meal. We're still in lock down, restaurants all closed for indoor dining, although you can pick up to take home. 

Our country rallied and it seemed for a moment that we were all on the same page. There were those that believed this was all a hoax. Is it? Is it not? No one can say for certain, but for me "better safe than sorry". Wear the mask people, you are not sheep for doing what is asked of you. 

I had and have continued to have my mom a prisoner in her own home. Unable to go out, and when we did have to venture out I was like the Secret Service, steering her away from aisles where people were not social distancing or wearing masks, or worse yet wearing them under their noses or on their chins. Even if the mask is worthless, it was worth the fact that it brought me a little peace that my mother was safe. 

May - In May we had Mothers Day. Visiting with mom was totally different because of Covid. My siblings came and still continue to come, but they have to sit outside on the patio. They have to wear their masks and they have to stay 8 feet away from my mom. 

And let me tell you for posterity that this DID NOT please my mom one little bit, it still doesn't please her, she still tries to sneak by me not wearing the mask or hugging a loved one and gets mad at me for stopping her. No matter how many times I explain to her that if she gets sick she will have to be alone at the hospital. If she dies, she will die alone, that's the harsh reality. I could not bear having my mother die alone.

Not being able to feed them has also been hard on her, she still wants to make food for them and serve it outside. It's been a difficult thing for her, not being able to mother her children and grandchildren.

June - The end of the regular school year, by now children have been home-schooling, taking classes online. Teachers trying to do their best to make life as normal as possible for their students. 

Teachers were posting on Facebook that they were doing teacher parades for their students. My first thought was that it was stupid, what was the point, it really isn't that big a deal, they are still seeing the children via ZOOM. That's what I thought until they went by my house. A caravan of decorated cars, about 25 of them. The teachers were so excited, waving at me and mom as we stood by our front door. They were so happy to be doing something positive, no matter how small. It made me cry and I will always remember that there are good people in the world.

We were finally told that on June 22nd we could return to our office. We went back, well at least two of us went back, those with small children who were home-schooling were allowed to remain and work from home. 

Three days later one of my co-workers tested positive for COVID and several in other offices tested positive, we were all sent home again, where we remain to this day. Luckily, I had taken every precaution the first day back. The second day I called in sick due to allergies, the third day I came back and we were told to go home. But it was scary. I knew that I had stayed in my office and worn my mask at all times and stayed away from my co-worker, but if I had not, then I could have gotten sick and brought it home to my mom. I made sure my employers knew I would not be going back again anytime soon since I was just as able to do my job from home, thankfully, they agreed. 

Then there were the riots because of the death of George Floyd, I'm not going to go into detail as I'm sure this time will now become part of American History, as well it should, but it divided our country and it was sad to watch and witness. 

July - Well most importantly, my birthday was in July and COVID be damned, my loved ones were gonna celebrate the day of my birth!

I was blessed with a beautiful cake from my daughter April and both my kids gave me art supplies as a gift. My dear friend and co-worker Angie gave me the coolest coloring book with my future husband Keanu Reeves on it. My mom snuck out on me and went to Taco Bell and brought me back a Strawberry Freeze since she was unable to go shopping to buy me a gift and she doesn't do Amazon. My sister Lisa gave me a beautiful Blue Orchid which I've already killed.  I got lots of birthday wishes and greetings and phone calls and it was a beautiful day. 

Nuff said about July!

August - This was a miserable month, the heat and having to be sheltered in was horrid. We couldn't even take a trip to the beach, just locked away in our home, always just locked away in our home. We couldn't even go outside and sit on the patio because the air was so horrible due to the fires in California. 

One day mom and I had to venture out because we had to hunt and gather, our cupboards were almost bare. I was so worried for her because of the bad air quality and her COPD, but she was as giddy as a schoolgirl to be venturing out into the real world. She actually did really good and it turned out to be me that got overheated halfway through our shopping trip and I had to sit down and drink some water and catch my breath. I think it was more anxiety at trying to keep people away from my mom, but either way we stocked up and hoped we would not have to venture out again any time soon. We are lucky during this time to be able to send my son out for milk and basic supplies. 

But as always, every during these trying times with the horrible fires and crimes and rioting and divisiveness, there was still hope...still kindness...still humanity.

September - In this month, I realized that I was missing a prime opportunity to have some home replairs and remodeling done. I'd been wanting for ages to have my house painted and my windows replaced with dual pane windows, but I never had the time and I was never home to monitor the workers. Well now I was home, now I did have time, so I started out with putting up a new fence and taking down some trees. You can read about it more HERE

Bob and Danny are the contractors on the job and I really have enjoyed having them around. They talk and laugh all day long and I swear they know EVERYBODY in this small town. People drive by and see them on a job and stop to talk to them or honk at them. Plus they know what they are doing and I feel I can trust them. 

The fires in California continue, the air is still horrid. Law Enforcement officers are being ambushed, shot at, run over by vehicles. People are still protesting and vandalizing and the COVID cases ever increasing. We are still just locked in our little house. 

October - No major changes in October, air still bad, home repairs moving along, law enforcement officers still being killed, ambushed. My brother, my nephew and several of my cousins are law endorsement officers. I know there are bad officers out there, but that doesn't make them all bad. I will always support them. 

My sister Lisa's 60th birthday came and went without any "hoopla". Her husband took her camping and they celebrated as best they could and they had a good time, but it would have been nice to have a big bash to celebrate her special day. But the important thing is she is healthy.

November - Again, same thing, different month. We celebrated Thanksgiving quietly. My siblings did come by, one at a time and spent time sitting outside with my mom, masks on. 

December - And now we are in December, Christmas has come and gone. It was a very pleasant Christmas, quiet and low-key. Not everyone has come to see my mom yet as it's been cold and dreary and foggy at times. Last night it even rained a bit.

Mom and I made our traditional Christmas Biscochos on her birthday, December 19th. She received so many phone calls and birthday greetings on Facebook, I think it made it so much more fun for her and I'm grateful for everyone that made the effort. 

We haven't make tamales yet, we've said we're going to make them for New Years, but I don't seems like a lot of work for just the two of us. 

There's hope on the horizon with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which are being distributed in phases. Phase 1a is recommended for healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. Phase 1b is recommended for frontline essential workers and people aged 75 and older. Phase 1c is for people aged 65 to 74 and people aged 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. 

So there is hope people, there is hope in 2021 that things will return to normal, but I hope not normal-normal. I hope that we remember how fragile life is, how easily our lives can change, how what we once thought was important took a backseat to caring for those we love and those who need us. I hope we learned kindness and courtesy and patience.

Welcome 2021...please be kind to us, we need it!

Sunday Night Football Soup again on a Monday Night - Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

 As usual during the holiday we get too busy and have a change of plans. 

That happened last week for "soup day".  For one reason or another I can't even remember now, I couldn't make soup on Sunday.

In fact I really didn't make soup on Monday either, in spite of my blog title, what I did as a remake of an old favorite that I had not made in a long time....Scalloped Potatoes and Ham!

I last blogged about this recipe on December 28, 2008 and I think I've only made it once or twice since. But I had some ham leftover in the freezer from Thanksgiving so figured it was close enough to soup to fit the bill!

Quick post today, but if anyone would like to try making this, the recipe is below. I give it 5 STARS! It is that good!

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham (serves 6)
½ cup butter
2 tsp. salt
3 cups milk
1 large onion chopped (or 4 tsp. onion powder)
½ cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
¼ tsp. pepper
3 cups cooked cubed ham
5 cups sliced potatoes

Heat butter in large sauce pan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly (I like using a whisk), for one minute. Remove from Heat and gradually stir in milk. Return to heat, cook til thickened and bubbly.

Fold in ham, onion and cheese. Pour over potatoes in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Pour into buttered 12 x 9 x 2” baking dish and cover with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking for 1 hour or til browned & bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Woolgrowers Cabbage Soup - Sunday Night Football Soup on Monday Night Football Night

What a long heading!

I've been trying to make a new soup every Sunday while I watch Sunday Night Football. I live in California so Sunday Night Football SNL starts at 5:30 pm. I usually start cooking during the pre-game show. I actually made the soup I'm going to post about today on December 7th.

On December 6th, I decorated my tree and living room. This year I decided to keep it simple. Thanks to COVID-19, we are not have our usual Christmas get-together with all my siblings and their spouses and their children and grandchildren. It will be just me, my son and daughter and my mom, and that's why I kept my decor simple. I kinda love it, let me share some photos. The Nutcrackers have all been gifts from my mom and daughter and some I've found here and there throughout the years in thrift stores.

This Nativity was made by my mother in 1983. She and her sister were taking ceramics classes at the local high school. She made one for each of her four children and one for each of her sisters. All her sisters are gone now and they left their Nativity to one of their daughters and we all display them at Christmas.  

Some are hand painted in detail and some like mine were done in a pearlized paint which has tiny little crystals that reflect and refract light so the color varies depending on what color light is shining on it. I love it, it's a treasure I will cherish forever, until I give it to my daughter April.

So because I was totally exhausted on Dec 6th after decorating all day long I decided to make my soup the next day while watching Monday Night Football. Oh yeah...I'm a big fan of NFL football. The Dallas Cowboys are my team, but I just love watching anyone play. Right now as I write this I'm watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Buffalo Bills. I'm rooting for the Steelers since that is my sons favorite team.

Anyway...on to the soup. We have a favorite restaurant called Woolgrowers. It's a Basque restaurant and you can read my post about it HERE, it explains everything. 

Woolgrowers serves a world famous cabbage soup. When you sit down at the table, you don't even have to ask for it, they automatically bring a big bowl of this soup, a bowl of beans, a bowl of hot (temperature-wise) salsa, a basket of sliced French bread and a plate full of real butter pats...again YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO ASK FOR IT!!!

Since we've been in shutdown, we have not eaten in sit-down restaurants, so I wanted to see if I could make the soup. I searched online and found a link to the recipe.

Woolgrowers Vegetable Soup
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 small cabbage
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbl Chicken Base
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 Tsp thyme
  • 10 cups water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions: Bring water to a boil and add chicken base, I used Better Than Bouillon Roasted chicken base). Chop all vegetables and add to water. Fry chopped onion in a little oil, drain and add to water and vegetables. Add seasonings and tomato sauce, simmer for two hours.

And you get this deliciousness. The funny thing is that I had no idea what a leek was, or what it tasted like. I didn't even know how or what parts of the leek to use. Thank goodness for YouTube. I tasted it raw and love it, bet it would be great raw in a salad!

My mom had made a fresh pot of beans earlier that day and we spooned the beans into our bowls and then the soup and some La Victoria Salsa. We had some sliced French bread and everyone agreed the whole house smelled like Woolgrowers and the soup was spot on exactly like Woolgrowers!

It was a win! I highly recommend making this soup, it will sing to your soul and make your heart happy!