Air Fryer/Convection

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

O.k., for those of you wondering… I returned my sister in law’s Ninja Air Fryer (not the Ninja Foodi). I had fun playing around with it and found it best for frozen foods and takeout leftovers. I am not going to be purchasing one at this time for a couple of reasons – I don’t have the counter space or under counter space now. It is a bit hard to clean. It is not really big enough for meals for a family of four and things would have to be cooked in two batches. We are planning a kitchen renovation after our bathrooms get renovated. Yes, we move slowly around here, but that’s the way it is. When my kitchen is destroyed I may buy something like this to use in my dining room – I have heard to set up a makeshift kitchen during renos. I asked on the blog and on Facebook for opinions on the air fryer and what people cook in them. One comment was that your normal oven has a convection feature and it works the same way. Melanie Shankle of Big Mama Blog and Big Boo podcast was also recently discussing this topic, by the way. See what the Pandemic does to people?

I have a convection bake and a convection roast on my oven. I have also got a proofing bread feature that I ignored for the 20 years I have had this oven and a probe feature which frankly, scares me a little. What on Earth? The word “probe” is right up there with “moist” and “satchel” for me. My sweet little boy Mason used to come home from school and yell “My satchel (his backpack) is moist!”

I have gotten by just fine for twenty years with only using bake and broil. I don’t even use the oven light. I once tried self clean and it scared me. My husband cleans the oven every now and again.

Anyway, let’s learn about convection… That may be the most boring statement I have ever written!

The difference in convection is that is has a fan and exhaust that helps food cook quicker and more evenly. It cooks 25% faster and it’s better at browning food.

You should use convection for: roasting, baking pies and pastries, making lots of cookies all at once (no need for rotation), cooking covered dishes, and toasting and dehydrating.

You should not use convection for: custards and flans, souffles, breads, or cakes.

I decided to try my convection roast setting for some zucchini and potatoes. I was a bit scared, but here we go…

I knew I need to space them out on a cookie sheet for even cooking. By the way, I have three of these jellyroll pans/cookie sheet with edges. I have one that is half the size. I use these all the time and love them. I put EVOO on the pan and then used salt, pepper, and cajun spices.

I normally would roast at 375 or 400 so I set to 350 because you need to go down by 25 degrees.

After only 20 minutes, this is what I got. I think next time I will broil for the last two minutes to get even more crispy.

Verdict: I would say that is pretty good for 20 minutes! I plan to experiment further with my convection feature.

It only took 20 years for me to discover this option on my oven, guys!

Have you convected? What do you know that I don’t know?

Amy

Hello Monday

Monday, June 1, 2020

How is it already June? Can you believe it? I am happy today to link up with the lovely ladies Heather, Lindsay, and Tanya so go here to check out their posts and more!

O.k., Thursday was my last teacher day. I woke up Friday and had some loose ends to tie up for school in the morning. I also decided to clean my Keurig. Do you use one? I have a really old one and it is very special because my Dad picked it out for me. It is the original model, I think. I have cleaned it a few times before. It involves white vinegar, water, and 4 hours of wait time.

I also decided to switch sides of my closet for winter and summer clothes. My closet stays pretty organized. I also bagged up some things I don’t have any desire to wear this season or ever. I think it’s a good tip to keep a donation/sell bag in your closet at all times.

Then, I decided to do something crazy. I went to TJ Maxx. I had a chair to return that I had purchased the day before the quarantine began. I called ahead and made sure they were doing returns. I had to wait in line for one person to leave the store when I got there as they are limiting costumers. I wore a mask. The check out line was really long and I probably had to wait 20 minutes. It will be a while before I go back. I just don’t need anything that badly. I picked up a few things that I will show you Wednesday. I hate wearing a mask and I can’t imagine how uncomfortable/hot it will get as the summer goes on. One of the employees was using a fan around her neck to get air under her mask. It probably lessened the effectiveness of the mask but I felt a soul connection to her because I want a fan necklace now.

My friend and I met on a patio with this beautiful parking lot view. It was the first time I had my temperature taken at the door of a business. He said I was good but I wanted to know how good and he told me I was 97 degrees. See, I am an overachiever or I am a cold @#$&! Have you had your temperature taken before you can go in a business? Hub has to every morning at work.

I got this tequila grapefruit drink; save your $10 because mine are better.

My friend was starving but I wasn’t hungry so she got these pretzels and talked me into one. There were like six – don’t worry.

I felt very safe doing this. I was less than 6 feet from my friend but she has had the same level of quarantine as I have as she works from home. We were spread away from other tables and the employees were all in masks. By the way, I feel so bad about them having to wear masks for a whole shift. Food service will get even hotter!

My sister sent photos of her new German Shepherd puppy Felix! I know so many people who have gotten dogs.

Saturday morning I tried my hand at cinnamon sugar scones. They were pretty darn good.

The river has been high because of all the rain, but Saturday afternoon Tom felt it had gone down enough. We did our trial run of 2020 and had to be careful of some debris.

We saw our friend and his daughter on their jetski.

I tried the mango and it was good.

It was a bit chilly. Look at those clouds!

We decided to let our son go to his friend’s house for the first time in almost 3 months. He was so happy.

After we put the boat up, we heard there was going to be live music at the marina so we went.

People were so happy to be out you could tell. Tom wore his Gilligan hat to boat and to go to the music venue.

Our city had a curfew of 9:00 both Saturday and last night. Are there protests in your city? The protests are about George Floyd, but also a local woman who was wrongfully killed. There was some damage done, too. I pray that we can have a peaceful outcome. I know that the stress and strain of the pandemic is part of this, too.

I enjoyed some coffee on the deck Sunday morning.

And, later on I made some whipped iced coffee.

I found some sun in the yard on another gorgeous but coolish day. Tom didn’t want to do the river because of the conditions of it not being great yet.

But, look what he accomplished! He still has to do the stairway railings.

And, we ended our Sunday afternoon with a patio happy hour at our friends’ house. We hadn’t seen them since maybe February? She did appetizers in individual containers for safety.

And, she made bourbon lemonade with a lemon wedge and a cherry.

So, this weekend felt full and more normal. We got the all clear on May 22 to gather with 10 and to eat at restaurants at 33% capacity indoors or on patios. We waited a bit but opened our circle a bit more by me going to TJ Maxx, my son going to friend’s house, going to hear some music, and going to our friends’ patio. Yes, there are risks involved. I think everyone has different comfort levels. And, I think you have to do what is right for your situation while following government/medical recommendations. It scares me a bit to widen our circle. My and our decisions can affect others. It is a scary time with so much uncertainty.

I plan to continue grocery pickup except for quick trips in to grab a few things from time to time. I’m still doing Dinnerly for three meals a week and that is going well. I plan to stay home most days. I think I will still make up a summer bucket list of things I can do. I also plan to set a summer schedule for myself. I will post those things soon.

I hope you had a good weekend!

Tell me a highlight or where you are in the pandemic?

Thanks for reading,

Amy

Friday Favorites

Friday, May 29, 2020

Happy Friday, you all! I’m exhausted! Are you? I have had all of the emotions this week. I’ve been happy, proud, sad, disappointed, bouyed, and the list goes on…

I am linking up today with Andrea, etc. so go here to see more Friday posts!

Here are some things to share with you…

This seems like a lifetime ago – the first day of senior year versus the last day from home on Wednesday. They had already “graduated” Tuesday but that was the technical last day. They are in reversed position and look at the hair! So, there is no doubt that I am so proud of them for how they handled themselves in this stage of life.

And, my first and last day of my 26th year. I am also a bit proud of myself for making it for this long. How have I been doing this for this long? How did I get this old?

I had my co-worker stop by after her cleaning of her room shift and I made us limoncello mules. We sat 6 feet apart outside. Typically we would’ve had some end of year social gatherings, lunch in one of our classrooms, or something. I was happy to visit in person, though!

I had a surprise delivery from one of my dear senior girls. Several years ago, a senior started a tradition of stealing my classroom clock. Then they would return it on the last day for seniors. They stole it this year and she painted Frida Kahlo on it! If anyone steals this next year, they all fail! She also gave me a Taco Bell gift card (lol) and a handpainted card of the running of the bulls with the sweetest note inside. Awww!

My Mother’s Day gift from the boys came in late but I wanted to mention it. They got me a dry erase board in a pretty substantial size for teaching from home. I had mentioned wanting one and they remembered.

Cattle Baron in Cashmere had some funny ones this week…

And, this one popped up on Facebook from someone in my state…

In Kentucky, we are supposed to only gather in groups of 10!

My husband got me a subscription of this for Christmas and the summer edition arrived this week. It’s so good!

On graduation day after they aired the ceremony on Youtube, this sweet student of two years popped by my door. I have known her since kindergarten and her mom, too! What a sweet surprise. I stayed far away!

On Memorial Day, I went to Target and bought a few items for the new deck furniture. I added this pillow,

these coasters and faux plants,

and this doormat.

And, that is about it. I am hoping to step away from the screens this weekend! What about you? Does it feel like summer yet? I pray that everyone stays healthy and we can keep gradually opening things up. I pray for our leaders to make the right decisions for schools next year.

Thanks for reading!

Amy

We have Graduates!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I couldn’t let it pass without addressing such a milestone here on the blog. I haven’t fully processed it and maybe in part that is because of the strange type of closure we experienced. Also, we have photos next week in cap and gown, so I don’t have those yet. Also, several of you gave me suggestions for how to make the day special. Thank you.

So, how did we get here? How did more than 13 years of educating my twins go so quickly? I say more than 13 years because before their K-12 public school experience, we had the learning we did at home and at their daycare/preschool. To anyone that had a hand in their education, I say thank you! On one hand, I feel like my work is done, but on the other hand, I know they will still need us for many things, especially in this strange world we are currently navigating. So, I may come back with more thoughts on having high school graduates, but for today, here is what I have…

I decided to enter Kroger and look for a cookie cake. They didn’t have any but I found a plain one with a white border and the cake decorator was happy to do this for me in less than five minutes. I had to clean out my classroom from 8-10, so I did this afterwards.

I set up the dining room table with things they hadn’t seen before: their framed senior photo, balloons tied to jolly ranchers (one of their favorites), their cap and gown, their senior gift (a water bottle) and senior t-shirt. Jack came out and saw it and said, “Who died?” I guess he thought it looked like a memorial.

Tom watched from work because it was at 11:00 a.m. There were technical difficulties and it didn’t get fixed until 11:30 – just par for the course these days. The boys and I watched it together and the boys joked around a bit.

Jack turned out to be one of the valedictorians – anyone who had a 4.0 for the first 7 semesters. Don’t ask about his last semester, please. Over the course of 4 years, he took 9 AP courses and exams. His real name is James. Jackson is his middle name.

Mason did not end up with a 4.0, but he was pretty close. He took 11 AP courses and exams.

There is so much more I want to say about their 4 years and there are many photos I want to dig up.

Our principal gave a nice speech, as did the class president. Their beloved junior English teacher and one of the teachers who took Mason to Europe this fall read all of the seniors’ names and wore his Harry Potter costume to do so. Why didn’t I get a picture? So, that was about it for the “graduation” and then I made a nice dinner and we had the cookie cake for dinner when Tom was with us.

Our principal:

There are so many thoughts and so many words that I want to say. This was not just their high school but a second home. I found out I was pregnant with them in my second year at this school and had them in my third year. They came to countless activities, helped me in my room, and ran the halls more times than I could count until they became freshmen. I don’t even think they will realize the scope of that until they are much older. They handled having a mom who was a teacher with grace and didn’t take advantage of it. In four years, they only missed 3 days of school.

And, I will leave you a view of my empty, sad classroom. On one hand, I am happy to tie up this year because it ended on such a sad note. On the other hand, I am not ready to leave this year behind. I was talking to a colleague and we realized we have been away from our classrooms for longer than we are away from it for the summer! Isn’t that crazy? Yes, that is Ricky Martin looking at you.

I have all the feels right now!

As you are reading this, I am wrapping up my grades and having a final virtual faculty meeting.

I wish I could leave you with some optimism for the start of next school year, but there is still so much uncertainty. I will plan for the worst and hope for the best, maybe?

Thanks for listening, friends! You’re the best!

Amy

Pandemic Purse

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Once I started going out a bit more – to Target a few times and Kroger a few times (I still do pick up each week but sometimes I will run in for a couple of forgotten items), I realized I didn’t want to put my favorite tote style purse in the cart. I have long been a fan of the crossbody and this situation just calls for these. My favorite neutral crossbody was purchase from a consignment store a few years ago for $8.

With a cross body, your purse doesn’t touch anything but your body.

My wallet is the lemon pouch, keys, hand sanitizer, a cleaning wipe, and of course my mask are my new contents.

Do you use a cross body? Do you have a pandemic purse or a need for one?

Amy

Morning Meal Prep

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

I know most of you are cooking more than normal. Even though I enjoy cooking, I still feel the dread set in around 5:00 when I realize I have people to feed. Also, my energy wanes in the afternoon. I get up with no problem in the morning ready to get my day started. That’s when I have my energy. So, I decided to FINALLY work smarter and not harder and employ morning meal prep strategies. Now, if you aren’t a morning person, you could also do this later in the day or at lunch. You can also prep at night for the next day. The idea is just don’t save all the work for the witching hour. This is especially true if you have little kids. I remember how that was.

The other day I made homemade enchilada sauce in the morning. I actually doubled the recipe and put half in the freezer. This was so easy and it comes from Budget Bytes website, which I had never heard of.

I also started the crockpot on low with about 2 chicken breasts (I should have done more to freeze), water, and taco seasoning.

At 5:00, I only had to assemble.

I also recently cooked up about 4 pounds of ground beef. I made sloppy joe’s, taco meat, and then left some plain for spaghetti. It is so nice to pull that out at 5:00!

I have also boiled my noodles for mac and cheese in the morning recently.

Do you ever do morning meal prep? Or weekly prep? What are your best tips?

Amy

Hello Monday!

Monday, May 25, 2020

I am going on with my weekend post today and I will link up with the ladies here if they do it today. Today won’t really feel like weekend because I will have school work to do for finalizing things by Thursday. I think the boys also have stuff to finalize.

Are you ready to see lots of food photos?

So, Friday our governor said we could gather in groups of 10 and our restaurants would open to limited capacity. My two friends came to my patio for takeout brunch and we made our own mimosas. We were still careful and spread out at the table. We all had separate containers and no one went in the house. It was so nice. I know we are still battling this and I feel so lucky to be able to do something normal like this. I worked several hours in the morning and again when they left.

I got the surfer girl omelette, potatoes and their Everything muffin like an Everything bagel. We all got the same order.

That afternoon was my AP Spanish test. I left the boys alone to do that and actually went outside to make sure I didn’t make any noise.

For dinner Friday night I made enchiladas with homemade sauce courtesy of Kristin from Stuff, Things, Etc. blog. The sauce was so easy!

Saturday morning I did another thing from my past life. I went to a socially distant farmer’s market. It was one way, you had to wear a mask, the farmers’ booths also had barriers to keep you from getting too close. I would have stayed longer but my mask was bugging me in the heat. I have one mask that is more breathable. Are you all struggling with masks?

I bought wildflowers,

asparagus, peanuts, and sourdough bread.

The river is really high but Ernie still got his Saturday swim!

Tom worked hard to put the furniture together. It took him about 2 hours. We are happy with the look and the quality so far. It is Walmart Better Homes and Gardens Hawthorne and the tip to look at it came from Jen at Show Me and Sweet Tea blog. Thanks, Jen!

The rest of Saturday I did some cleaning, fridge organizing, laundry, reading and I took a walk.

That night our friends asked us to sit on a patio for dinner. We were confused as to the restaurant rule. Some restaurants are saying you can only sit at a table with your family. We were prepared to get take out if that was the rule. They sat us on either end of a big table. All the servers were wearing masks.

It was really nice to be back at a Mexican restaurant. We have been getting weekly takeout so I felt safe with the tables spaced out so much and hardly anyone there. I wiped down the table with my own Clorox wipes. We didn’t share any food.

Sunday morning I enjoyed my first coffee on the new furniture. It had rained again like it has almost every day lately!

And, finally yesterday afternoon we went back to the other farmers market and our friends met us. It was blazing hot so we didn’t stay long at the market. We took folding chairs and sat far apart under some shade trees and visited.

And, those were the highlights of my weekend.

How much have you gotten out?

It is really surreal the first time you get back out into the world. I am still going to be careful. I am trying to really think about what is a need right now. I don’t need to go to the grocery and I can do Kroger pick up. I don’t need a pedicure even though I want one. I can wait a while longer to get my hair done. My friends think I am super strict and I am always quoting the governor. It’s the teacher in me. I am a born rule follower.

Hope you are continuing to enjoy your weekend!

Amy

Friday Faves

Friday, May 22, 2020

Guys, this is a big day! Today is the AP Spanish exam and two of my students taking it are my boys! Also, today is the day the governor of Kentucky says we can have social gatherings of 10! Finally, I am having my favorite brunch take out (if you are local it is Wild Eggs!) on my patio with two friends. I am will link with up Andrea, etc. over at http://www.momfessionals.com. So, all of those things are definite favorites.

How did we get here guys? On March 12, there was absolutely nothing in me that believed we would still basically be here on Memorial Day weekend. My mind is blown.

Speaking of minds blown, this amazing method to close your cereal box has been all over my social media. Have you seen it? You tuck in the two short sides and one long side and then if you make the sides fold in, the flap will close nicely like this. Do not judge the Cap’n Crunch. I can only be friends with you if you say and write “cap’n” the correct way.

O.k., I will show you the failure of the Kroger brand Raisin Bran – which we like better than Kellog’s, by the way. My professional opinion is that this hack only works with the thicker name brand cereal boxes. I will pause while you go try to do this to all of your cereal boxes. You know you want to.

Do you watch Food Network? I enjoy several shows on this channel. Even if you don’t, you must check out Amy Schumer Learns to Cook. Her husband is a chef and they are staying in a friend’s cabin during quarantine. It is delightful.


I brought out the light blue polish. It made me happy. I will last a few hours.


One of my Pandemic indulgences has been magazine buying. I have bought April magazines and May magazines. I ran in to buy one thing and picked up InStyle this week. I used to always read this magazine. Blogs are the new magazines. You heard it here.

This intrigued me. Anyone tried this yet? Jergens Sol Water Mousse tanner is the full name. Sol means sun in Spanish so maybe that’s what drew me in.

New virtual life trick. You wear a gross old black tee but throw a kimono on for the meeting or class. I had a busy virtual life this week. I taught 5 virtual classes and had 1 virtual meeting. That is my new definition of busy.

These are my Pandemic shoes. I will probably be tired of them soon and/or they will cause flashbacks. Plastic Birkenstocks are the perfect Pandemic shoe. They can get food spilled on them. They can be worn with kimonos. They go with pajamas. They work with leggings.

One day I tried the mango Bud Light Seltzer. Yum! So, I do endorse the Bud Light Seltzers, the Corona Seltzers, and the Truly Seltzers. Those are my recommendations if you are a seltzer person. You want to hear something weird? We can only buy beer and hard seltzers in our Kentucky grocery stores. You can’t buy hard liquor or wine. But, you can buy hard liquor and wine in drug stores like CVS and Walgreen’s. And, you can’t buy any alcohol on Sundays until after 1:00. If you go in a liquor store, you can buy it all, but not on Sundays until 1:00!

I have been wanting to try Glossier boy brow for a long time and I finally did it. You guys, this is really a great product. I bought the brown. It has a mascara brush and it is really easy to use. I am starting to get weird gaps in my brows. This fills them in nicely.


I heard about this Tan-Luxe The Butter from Melanie Shankle/Big Mama. It usually costs $90 but goes on sale for $39 regularly from HSN.com. It smells really nice for a self tanner and I think I am really going to like it. It has a bit of a sparkle to it. I actually can’t believe I spent $39 on a self tanner but I think it will last a long time. I’m sorry I don’t know if the sale is still going on, but I hope it is if you are interested.

And, those are my favorites for the week!

It really doesn’t feel like Memorial Day weekend. Do you have plans?

Do you have a Pandemic indulgence like my magazines?

Have you ordered anything you might not have normally?

We have a house project this weekend! I hope to see some more people, too.

One last thing before I go… my boys have a virtual graduation Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. that will be live streamed. Hub has to work so he will watch it from the office or later on the link. How do I make the day a bit momentous? I am thinking a Chick Fil A tray, a cookie cake, something along those lines. It is simply a couple of speeches, the seniors yearbook photo and their name, and a tribute video, by the way.

Amy

Thirsty Thursday – Tinto de Verano

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Who needs an easy cocktail recipe for summer? Tinto de Verano comes to us from Spain. Spain produces a lot of red wine as you may know. Tinto or tinted is what they call it – vino tinto. So, tinto de verano simply means summer red wine. I know some of you are big red wine drinkers. I can usually drink reds without getting a headache, but the white wines sometimes do me in!

I happened to have an opened bottle of a pretty decent cabernet sauvignon from… CVS. I am class like that.

Simply pour about a half glass of red wine to a half glass of lemon lime soft drink or my favorite – I talk about it all the time – Fresca.

You might be surprised and you might be reminded of a lighter tasting sangria. Some sangrias can be quite heavy. I love the added carbonation – I talk about that all the time, too. Give this a try! Maybe break out the charcuterie. There is nothing that says you can’t travel to Spain on your patio.

Let me know if you try it!

Amy

Sunny Days are Ahead

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I thought we would talk about sunglasses today. Do you love sunglasses as much as I do? I wear them all year long as my eyes are very sensitive to the sun. It is like another accessory, too! I did a sunglasses post last year but I wanted to update with my current collection.

Are you an expensive sunglasses person or a cheap sunglasses person? I am a little of both. I really do think quality sunglasses are worth the money. I take better care of them. I keep them in the case. They can last for years and the price per wear goes way down.

I also like trendy sunglasses and tend to buy at least one of these a year.

Last year towards the end of summer I got it in my head that I needed sunglasses with a bee on them. So, for the price of about $12, I found these on Amazon.

I still plan to wear them this summer!

Now let’s talk about my other current favorites.

These are my husband’s RayBans from the 90’s! He still had a receipt in the case that said he bought them in 1996, people. And, that is a glimpse into how my husband takes care of his possessions. He didn’t say I could have them; they are on loan. But, I have now known him for 23 years and he has never worn them in that time!

The next pair are my Mother’s Day gift from maybe 7 years ago. Hub said the square frames looked better on me and they were different. Ray Bans are a classic that never go out of style in my opinion.

The next pair are for when I wear silver. Yes, I like my metals to match. I am kind of weird about that. These are Guess and they were free. My husband’s company let them pick something out of a gift catalog and he didn’t want anything so I chose these and have had them for maybe 5 years. The sides are a pinkish redish.

My new favorites and only pair from 2020 are the Quay Australia Stop and Stare that I bought off of Amazon. Have you heard of Quay? They don’t seem to be as good of quality as Ray Ban, but the quality is decent. They are also about 1/4 of the price.

Two years ago I was really into the colored aviators. These purple ones were cheap – $10 – and I still have them.

The next ones were from a consignment store but are real Ray Bans. I am so sad that I somehow scratched them and they are unwearable now. Anyone know any tricks for fixing scratched lenses that wouldn’t hurt the green tint?

So, I guess I am pretty brand loyal to Ray Ban and I really like wire rims and aviator style.

When TJ Maxx opens, I love to look at their selection. For around $15, you can find really good quality sunglasses – some of them designer.

I am also contemplating prescription sunglasses. Anyone have these?

What is your favorite brand of sunglasses? Favorite style?

Let’s hope that sunny days are ahead, o.k.? I mean that literally and metaphorically!

Amy