Pandemic Birthday Bash 2020 – The 411

Six months of being stuck in the house due to the pandemic has passed. There seems to be NO end in sight. 200,000 deaths and counting… People in the US being complete CovIdiots and not adhering to guidelines because their privilege extends so far that it can infringe on the rights of other citizens NOT to contract covid. There are a lot of people who think the pandemic is a “democratic hoax”… some who refuse to wear masks … a whole bunch of imbicil leaders who feel that we can “learn to live” with a plague, while other countries are doing what it takes to eradicate the virus. I digress.

With everything going on in the world, I refuse to hide out in a corner and let time be stolen from me. We only have so many days on Earth as is. I worked diligently to plan the most exciting “pandemic birthday bash” with social distancing that I could plan.

I rented a huge three floor house on the oceanfront complete with an elevator. The home had three huge open air porches on each level so I leased cocktail table and chair/stools, vibrant colored linens for tables and hired a party planner to come pull everything together. A balloon company put up a balloon wall and marquee and my daughter screamed in excitement when she came in and saw it.

My family, who have all been quarantined since March came with the kids so of course the cousin reunion was a blast for the three kids. My daughter’s Godmother flew in and our elderly friend who I have been cooking and shopping for were all able to come. My other friends who are back at work or who have not been quarantined were upset that they did not get an invite. My daughter’s Godfather contracted covid after attending his Aunt’s funeral, so he was not able to come.

I decided to go with an adult menu, as there were only three kids so we ordered a pizza for the kids and the adult menu is below… surf and turf !

Here are some pictures of the party…

The day after the party, I donated the balloon wall and marquee to the PICU at the hospital. The children were excited to get them !

2020 Birthday Plans for a Tiny Queen – The 411

baby shark

This year, we were supposed to travel to Ireland and Scotland for five weeks for my baby girl’s birthday, however, covid, being the bitch that she is, halted all of those plans.

Because I am not ever disappoint my child and will move heaven and earth to put a smile on her face and celebrate her in all ways, I decided to rent a gorgeous beach front estate, order Hepa Air filtration systems for every room, have my family and close friend to quarantine for 3 weeks prior to coming, and throw her a socially distanced party.

I asked her what she wanted for her party and showed her several themes and of course she chose Baby Shark !

I went to Pintrest and clicked on everything I could find and put together a portfolio of what I wanted and then hired a party planner.  I have been ordering baby shark items and beach themed decor for months now.  I hired a set designer to make a backdrop/step and repeat for her and we decided to go with the neon pink as the main color and then incorporate all of the other baby shark colors into the decor.  We have neon pink, neon green, neon yellow, and white cloth napkins, clear plates, neon pink silverware, white coral chargers, custom baby shark centerpieces, baby shark custom cookies and sweets, white and neon pink table linens, several cocktail / pub tables that will be strategically placed on the 2nd floor balcony (so that guests can sit two to a table and be spaced apart), a gazillion face masks, shoe covers, custom tees for every guest, welcome toiletry bags for each bedroom, custom thank you boxes and a ton of baby shark themed items that I have ordered from the UK and the USA.  I think I did a bit too much, as I became obsessed, however, it is going to be so adorable !  I forgot to mention that I ordered a balloon marquee to go around the backdrop.   My brother in law owns a catering company so he will be grilling the ribeyes I will sous vide for the dinner portion of the evening.  We will start with appetizers served on individual charcuterie boards and dinner is going to be surf and turf:  lobster bisque, salad, grilled steak, jerk shrimp skewers, baked potato and bread sticks.  I created a specialty Shark Fin Punch that I can not wait for everyone to sip!

My sisters and their families, my daughter’s Godmother from Philly, and my mom are all staying at the house scattered amongst 3 floors.  Coming to the party are my daughter’s honorary godparents, who are our neighbors at the ocean front (and 97 yrs old), and the seniors that I have been cooking for since March so that they can stay away from covid…  They all adore my daughter and they have all been inside, as have we since March.  I love this house because it has three balconies that are the length of the house on each floor so we can place people apart at cocktail tables and we will serve them at their tables.  Where there is a will, there is a way !  lol.  My daughter will be so delighted to get to hang out with her cousins, who are 8 yrs old and 4 yrs old.    Since there are only the 3 kids, we opted to do a more adult menu and have a sweets table with her cake, cupcakes, cookies etc.

The day after the party, we will depart the house at noon to take a drive down to Charleston and I have a surprise in store for my family !  We chartered a private yacht and we will have cocktails, appetizers and boxed lunches on a two hour harbor cruise.  The kids will get to see some dolphins and my family and I will be able to catch up since we have not seen each other at all this year.  I saw one of my sisters for about an hr after we drove 3 hours to meet them half way so that my mom could stop worrying.  Now all three of us will get to hang with my mom and she is so excited.  I only wish my two nephews and my other brother in law could come from CA but it’s too much of a risk.

Planning this party has been a good thing for me because I get to escape the grief of having lost close friends, the latest, this past Friday.  2020 has been very challenging and very rewarding at the same time.  I declared this as my year and it has allowed me to heal in some areas and take leaps of faith that I have been holding back from.  I am grateful !

I will post pictures of set up and of the party to share with you all !

 

 

 

The Blessing and the Curse of 2020 – The 411

This year has been a whirlwind.  On my birthday, last week, my dear friend passed away at the same time and day that I was born.  So ironic.  It has been a very crazy past few months, as he was given only 2 weeks to live.  My daughter and I were the second call he made to break the news.  God gave him about two months.  He seemed to be doing well, other that being tired at the end of the day and having shortness of breath at times. He would video chat or call us daily and always wanted to check in on my daughter to see how her day went with her private teacher.  He ordered THREE of my cookbooks and I was heartbroken when I learned that they arrived the day before he passed and that he never got to read the inscription.  He did, however, receive ebook copies of both of my books and made a few of the recipes over the past several weeks.  I just wanted him to hold the copy I mailed to him.

On Wednesday night late, he seemed to be agitated and very confused.  The next afternoon, nothing seemed to have changed so he was taken to the hospice hospital for observation.  He was nothing like he was before, which was alert, and normal.  Sadly , at 10:25 am Sunday, he died.  He was not ready to depart Earth.  He cried like a baby when he learned that the cancer he had that had been responsive to treatment for years and was possibly about to be over had now taken a turn and ravaged his entire body.  He thought maybe it was covid.  He was in the hospital a few days in April and when the tests came back, the cancer was everywhere, even in his face and on his brain.  I was stunned.  He had been under an inordinate amount of stress and also going through a divorce from a contract marriage, more or less.  He had lost a friend who had been like a brother to him for years, as the friend turned out to be a complete ass.  The hurt in his voice was piercing.   As time marched forward, I convinced him to let that go and look at it as it was… the enemy testing him and trying to make him bitter and angry.  What had happened had and it was time to press towards the future and forgive and never forget.  He made peace with the situation and decided to live each day he had left by doing only what brought him joy.  We were humbled and grateful that we were a part of that.  He was so excited to see my daughters development daily.  Over the past two weeks, she has started to read and becoming a phonics whiz.  She is only 3 so that is amazing !  By the end of summer, she will be reading my mail.  LOL.

While covid-19 has been the most terrible thing, in a lot of ways, it has benefited me greatly.  I had saved more money than ever before, paid off all of my bills, and I have had nothing but time on my hands so I have been spending time with my child and my mom and having zoom visits with the rest of the family.   I completed both my cookbooks and am now working on some other lucrative projects.  I just wish 2020 were not bringing so much loss.  The people who are most deserving of death are still up walking around tormenting people and being evil.  That bothers me.  I hate seeing the number of people that have passed.  Hearing their families talk about how wonderful the person was and how productive they were in society is so heartbreaking.

I will be glad when things return to some semblance of normalcy so that we can travel !  After learning covid can be contracted more than once, we are staying in as much as possible.  After being sick for nearly 6 weeks, I never want that mess again.  Plus, there is no guarantee that you will only have mild symptoms.  I am soooo ready to move, but we are stuck here until it is safe to move.  We are no longer considering Florida as a place to buy a home.  We are now looking in other places for a hobby farm or a waterfront home. I am tired of being cramped up but it could be worse !  We are at the beach, and not in midtown Manhattan, which is definitely a no right now.

I pray that everyone is well and that you are able to do productive things during this down time.

Quarantine Life Month 3 – The 411

This has been the LONGEST three months of life LOL.  After recovering from Covid-19, I have been busy cooking for elderly families we know.  I have completed a 337 page cookbook that I had been compiling for years and am almost finished with the second cookbook I am releasing this year that has recipes exclusively for pressure cookers, slow cookers and air fryers.

My daughter has had a blast hanging out in the kitchen with me cooking.  She loves stirring and adding in ingredients to the bowls.

My website is now almost complete and my web store is being loaded with my publications.  I am having a zoom meeting with my team this week to learn how to add recipes I want to feature on the website.  http://www.iamvalerierenee.com

I am soooo bored being stuck at home, but I am also grateful that we are at the beach and not stuck in NYC.  This pandemic has hampered my plans to move.  I will wait until late Fall or early Winter before I attempt to move.  We are content here and I am not willing to risk getting reinfected with covid just to move to another home.   The upside is the mounting problems with the economy should work in my favor when it comes to negotiating prices for homes.

I have been so down about not being able to travel internationally for my upcoming birthday and having to cancel my daughter’s birthday trip to Ireland and Scotland.  We will wait to see what happens with this virus and then plan to travel in 2021 as soon as it is safe to.  I have NEVER been caged up this long.  lol.  I would have been on a few short trips by now, but in the house we are.  There are way too many people who have converged on our area from up North and it just is not safe to be out.  People are here from NY, NJ, RI, PA, MA, etc and no one is wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

I am looking for a beach house in a secluded area to rent for a few weeks so that we can get out of here.  If all else fails, there are beautiful lake front homes in FL and GA that we can look at.  I just want to go somewhere for a change of scenery.

How are you all handling the quarantine?  What are you doing to pass the time?  Leave some comments and say hello !

 

Quarantine Life- The 411

quarantine

Soooo… 2020 is full of Crazy Crap eh?

My year started out full of hope. I landed a dream gig acting in a major theatrical production. Then my mom had to have emergency spinal surgery, which corrected a lot of her issues, especially balance and chronic back pain and the severe depression that accompanies chronic pain. Then my nephew’s team was to play in the NCAA and we went to NC to see the team play at the end of February and a few weeks later, took off for NCAA in Dallas/ Ft Worth. My brother in law rented a beautiful house downtown Ft Worth and we were going to have a blast. BUT CORONA LA’SHAY DA-VIRUS brought her raggedy tail on the scene and wrecked our 2020 Perfect Vision New Century plans ! NCAA got cancelled. Travel bans were put in place. The day after we landed in Dallas, I mysteriously had conjunctivitis in my right eye ! I woke up the next day and could taste NOTHING and my nose and the baby’s nose were running. I had a slight sore throat. I figured the pollen was just bad and my seasonal allergies were kicking in.

We stayed in Dallas the rest of the week and watched the Rona shut every thing down ! More and more cases were being announced ! We decided to cut our trip short and fly back to the condo at the beach. NYC was definitely a NO NO ! We got home and the next day, the baby and I felt like we were getting the flu or something. The baby had a fever and was sleeping a lot. My tummy and throat started burning like I had swallowed hot lava for three days so I climbed in bed and stayed, except to cook meals for our elderly neighbors. After a week of feeling like I had been hit by a truck, things leveled off and then my baby was very whiny and my mom started showing symptoms and they both had fevers, which I never got. Another two weeks of fatigue and symptoms persisted. I was finally able to get testing ordered at week 3. It took 11 days to get the results ! Thank goodness, we all had mild symptoms in comparison to what others are going through and that we never had any upper respiratory issues with the lungs.

Fast forward to quarantine week…. what week is this? Week 7 for us I think ! I have completed my cookbook FINALLY and ended up with 305 recipes total. I hired an editor and layout designer and the book will be ready for print in a week and a half and launches on all major retail sites by May 30th ! The Foodie’s Bible has been born ! My cooking show will soft launch on YouTube next month as well. My film crew is on lock down and so are we !

I have created so many new recipes over the past few weeks that we have been locked up in the house ! I am writing them all down and compiling additional smaller themed cookbooks. I can not wait to see how they come together. The baby has been helping me cook and she even taped a sample episode of my cooking show this past week.

What are you doing to pass the time?

Hand Sanitizer Gel Recipe

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Gel

(Effective in helping to kill Covid19/Coronavirus in conjunction with washing hands)

Ingredients:

1 cup of 91% isopropyl alcohol
½ cup of aloe vera gel (natural or store-bought)
15 drops of tea tree oil (or another antibacterial essential oil)

Directions:

  1. Pour the alcohol into a medium container with a pouring spout. Some recipes online use vodka instead of isopropyl alcohol, but most vodkas don’t contain a high enough percentage of alcohol to be effective.

Note: Using isopropyl alcohol diluted beyond 91% will result in a more weaker hand sanitizer that doesn’t meet the CDC’s 60% benchmark.

  1. Measure and pour the aloe vera gel. Alcohol can be hard on your skin, so using aloe is a good way to counteract that effect and keep your hands smooth. If you want to keep things natural, you can use aloe vera gel straight from the plant without worrying about it going bad—the alcohol will act as a preservative. However, you will need to keep in mind that natural aloe gel is thicker than its store-bought counterpart and will thus affect the final product differently—it will make your hand sanitizer more sticky, which means you’ll need to rub your hands more times for it to fully absorb.
  2. Add the essential oil. Tea tree oil is naturally antibacterial, so it makes sense to use it here. But if you’re not a fan of its smell, you can use another type of essential oil, like lavender, lemongrass, or eucalyptus.
  3. Whisk. To fully mix all ingredients, stirring won’t be enough. Get a whisk and beat that hand sanitizer into an homogeneous gel.

Whisk in measuring cup
Shake that sanitizer like a Polaroid picture.

  1. Sanitize your spray bottles and pour in your hand sanitizer. Spray some of your leftover alcohol into your bottles and let them sit until the alcohol has evaporated. Pour in your sanitizer.
  2. Label your containers. You don’t want any accidents where you or anybody else ingests your newly made hand sanitizer. Take the time to label your bottles.

(C) Valerie The Pajama Chef

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Spray – Recipe

Ingredients:


1 cup of 99% isopropyl alcohol


1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide


1 teaspoon of 98% glycerin


¼ cup, 1 tablespoon, and 1 teaspoon (or 85 milliliters) of sterile distilled or boiled cold water


Directions:

1. Pour the alcohol into a medium-sized container with a pouring spout. The percentages on the labels of isopropyl alcohol refer to the alcohol concentration in them. You’re dealing with almost pure alcohol if you’ve got 99.8%, whereas 70% means the bottle is only a little more than two-thirds alcohol, and the rest is water.


Note: Some formulations have tried to adapt these proportions to use 91% isopropyl alcohol or even 70%. But these alcohol concentrations will render a final product that doesn’t comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to fight COVID-19.


2. Add the hydrogen peroxide.


3. Add the glycerin and stir. This ingredient is thicker than both alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, so it’ll take some stirring to combine everything. You can use a clean spoon for this or, if your container has a lid, you can put that on and shake it well.


4. Measure and pour in the water. If you’re using 99% isopropyl alcohol, you’ll need to measure ¼ of a cup, 1 tablespoon, and 1 teaspoon of distilled or boiled cold water and add it all to your mix. If you’re using another percentage of isopropyl alcohol, just pour as much water as necessary to get to a final volume of 345 milliliters, or approximately 1.4 cups. Stir.


5. Sanitize your spray bottles and pour in your hand sanitizer. Spray some of your leftover alcohol into your bottles and let them sit until the alcohol has evaporated. Pour in your sanitizer.


6. Label your bottles. You don’t want any accidents where you or anybody else ingests your newly made hand sanitizer. Take the time to label your bottles. Go kill some germs.




Savory Pot Roast with Boursin Mashed Potatoes -@ValerietheapajamaChef

Ingredients

2 c baby carrots 2 large onions, vidalia, peeled and quartered

  • 5 lb chuck roast with good marbling ( fat= flavor)
    3 Tbsp fresh thyme
    3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
    3 bay leaves, dried
    1/2 c olive oil
    2-3 c beef stock/broth
    1 c red wine (I used cab)
    1 pkg pot roast Crock Pot packet – whatever brand
    course grained sea salt
    fresh crushed black pepper
    1 c all-purpose flour

    BOURSIN MASHED POTATOES

    1 pkg Boursin cheese, 8 oz
    1 c whole organic milk

    1/2 stick butter, salted

    3 lb red bliss potatoes
    green onion

Directions:

1. Allow meat to sit until room temperature. Generously season with pepper and kosher salt.

2. Pour some olive oil into a pan. Heat on med-high until almost smoking. Put onion quarters in and brown on all sides (achieve a nice deep golden color). When browned, remove and put in bottom of Crock Pot.

3. Next add a little more oil if needed and put carrots into the pan making sure everything gets a nice color as well. Remove when evenly browned and add to Crock Pot.

4. Add the last of oil and let it heat up. While oil heats, dredge beef through flour making sure it’s evenly coated.

5. Sear the meat on all sides, about a minute or two, getting a GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious) color.

6. Pull out meat and lay it on top of onions and carrots.

7. Add rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves to the Crock Pot.

8. Mix pot roast packet into 2 cups of stock and stir until well combined then add to Crock Pot. (The liquid should come up about halfway on the meat.)

9. If there is a lot of oil left in pan, dump some of it out. Add red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wisk for all those little cooked on yummy bits (that’s where a lot of flavor will come from). Reduce it by about half, then add it to the Crock Pot.

10. Set Crock Pot on high and cook for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. You can leave it on low and it will keep going or, after 4 hours on high I usually turn it down and let it go another hour.

11. Boursin Mashed Potatoes! In the last 45 min of cooking get a big pot of SALTY water boiling. Wash all of the potatoes well. Stab all over with a fork. DO NOT PEEL.

12. Add potatoes to boiling water and cook until tender (falling off the fork when stabbed)

Follow @Valeriethepajamachef on Instagram !!!

Happy New Year !

We got back from London and took a drive to Orlando, Florida for New Year’s celebration.

We spent NYE with my nephew and his basketball team, as they had a conference game in Orlando.

We spent a few days in Orlando before heading to the beach.

We got back and had to do massive amounts of kiddy laundry plus our clothing from our trip and then we had to pick up the packages which arrived while we were away; mostly Christmas gifts.

I had the entire back of my SUV and the back seat loaded down with packages.

My baby was overwhelmed opening all of her packages and was mesmerized!

She still has toys that she has not opened yet. In fact, there are toys in storage from last Christmas that she never got around to opening so we boxed them up. They will all come in handy once we move to the lakehouse or farmhouse this Spring and we set up her playroom again.

We are excited for this new decade and all that is happening. I am manifesting great things !

My cooking show platform will launch this year and I will release 3 books before Spring. I am finishing up some studies in real estate development and will start the real estate license prelicensure course this week. I am doing some research on another field that is related and looking to launch a new LLC. Things are going well. We are just on week two and we have already sold one of the properties we bought this Fall. I started the REI to build generational wealth for my daughter. She gets so excited when I tell her that she sold another piece of property and now she can go shopping for some more. I think she believes that means she is going shopping for real lol.

I hope everyone is doing well and that you are implementing your goals /plans for your life !