About Me

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I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beer in the Rear Chicken Recipe

Easiest. Recipe. Ever.  I altered a Paula Deen recipe to come up with my own.  In addition to baked chicken for dinner, you can make so many other things from the leftovers - casseroles, salads, soups, stock, etc. 


Preheat your oven to 400.  Rinse and pat dry the inside and outside of a whole chicken.  Open a beer or soda aluminum can and drink or pour out 1/4 - 1/3.

Line an 8"x8" or 9"x9" dish with foil and place the can in it. Lower the butt cavity over the top of the can as far as it will go. Use the can and the 2 legs as support to balance the chicken upright in the dish.

Rub the chicken with your favorite spice rub. I use a BBQ rub.  Place chicken in oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Take chicken out of oven and reduce oven temp to 325. Using a pastry brush, brush on a sauce or marinade that compliments the spice rub you used. I use Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ Sauce.

Put back in oven. Take out every 30 minutes to brush on more sauce and check temperature. When my oven is in convection mode, I only need 30 more minutes until it is done (that is a total of 60 minutes cooking time), but depending on your oven and the size of the chicken, it could take up to 90 minutes total cooking time.

When done, let chicken stand for 10 minutes. Slowly slide chicken up and off the can and place on cutting board to carve.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe

My Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe
1 cup uncooked quinoa, brown rice or white rice
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 lb ground beef 
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen corn, rinsed or 1 can corn, drained
1/2 Jar of your favorite salsa
Fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped
Shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Cook quinoa or rice according to directions.
In a skillet, cook beef and onion together until beef is cooked through.  Drain off fat.
  
To the beef/onion mixture, add the cooked quinoa or rice, black beans, corn, salsa to your taste, cilantro and a little water.  Mix it all together, put a lid on it and let it simmer for about 5 minutes to combine the flavors.

Turn off the heat, sprinkled some shredded cheese on top and recover to let the cheese melt.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This is a "dump" recipe, meaning the ingredients and measurements change based on what I have on hand and how much I am making each time.

8.5 oz box of corn muffin mix, prepared
Cooked chicken or turkey(great use of leftovers)
Frozen broccoli
Can of cream of mushroom soup
Milk
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Butter

Prepare corn muffin mix according to directions and bake.  I usually bake it as bread and not as muffins, but whatever you want to do.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Cover the bottom with cut up turkey or chicken.  Layer your frozen broccoli on top of the turkey, to cover.

Next you will whisk together 1 part milk to 2 parts soup and pour over the broccoli and  turkey.  When I am making this is a 2 quart dish, I need the whole can of soup mixed with a half a can of milk.

Sticking with the 2 quart dish idea, melt half a stick of butter.  To that add your cornbread, crumbled and a couple of handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese.  You'll have to play with these amounts and decide how much of the cornbread topping you want.  When I make a small 1 quart dish, I only need half of the cornbread, so I freeze the rest for another time.  You may like more or less topping on your casserole than I do.

Spread your cornbread mixture over the top of your other ingredients to cover.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on how big your dish is.  If you find, halfway through, that your topping is getting too brown, you can cover your dish with foil for the rest of the cooking time.  

Make sure you let your casserole cool for 5-10 minutes before serving it up!

Steak and Potato Soup Recipe

First of all, I have to tell you how nice the last 28 hours have been for me.  B was picked up by his Nana yesterday at 11am and I'll get him back at 5pm this afternoon.  I love that boy more than life itself, but we all need a break from our kids once in a while, especially when you are home with them all day, everyday. Some of the things I've enjoyed during my childless time:

  1. Not having to lock the bathroom door, or even close it
  2. Not having to pause and rewind a show I am watching every 117 seconds b/c B has a burning question, need or story to tell that cannot wait
  3. Only preparing food for myself, whenever I wanted it, and not listening to any complaints about what I made (the hubs and I decided to do our own thing for dinner last night)
  4. My house is just as clean and picked up as it was 28 hours ago
  5. No noise except the 80s music on Pandora and the sound of my own voice talking to the kitties.
  6. The hubs and I watched a couple of epis of Tosh.0 last night.  Have you ever watched Tosh.0???  OMG, that man is so wrong and so politically incorrect and says things that are OK to say in your head but not out loud.  And b/c of that, he is so funny your sides and your face will hurt from all the laughing at the end of one 30-minute episode.  Add him to your DVR and when you've had a bad a day and the kids are asleep, watch him.  All that laughing will release some serious endorphins and will pick you up.  Just put a fan or white noise machine in your kid's bedroom so you don't wake them up with your hysteria.
  7. I haven't had to remind anyone of anything at all
  8. Not a single question has been asked of me...*sniff, sniff*...this one makes me so happy I'm tearing up...
  9. No one is following me around b/c his irrational fear of not remaining within eyesight of me is back again (hence #1 on this list is #1 on this list)
  10. I am blogging before 11pm
I could go on, but my time alone is ticking away...

I had a buttload of steak leftover in the fridge and the hubs tried to throw it out last night.  He's a disposable kinda guy.  I wanted to use it up somehow and, thankfully, he did not argue with me.  I'm sure he chose not to this time b/c he knew tonight was trash night and figured he'd get rid of it them.  When I woke up this morning, and mind you, I woke up b/c my body had had enough rest and naturally woke itself up, instead of being yanked awake by pokey fingers, someone jumping on me, breathing on my face, tickling me or singing at the top of his lungs, I had 3 distinct thoughts.  1) It's raining, 2) I bet the business manager did it. He was the only one who knew she was pregnant. How come the detectives aren't looking at him? (I fell asleep before last's night epi of "Body of Proof" was over, and 3) Steak and Potato Soup.

I was very happy to have this last thought, b/c I usually just make a breakfast hash with leftover steak and I wanted something different.  Plus, the amount of leftover steak I had would have made hash for 5 people.  I searched "Steak and Potato Soup" recipes on the net and decided on the 2nd one I read b/c it was easy, I had all the ingredients and it called for leftover steak instead of fresh.

I created a tab at the top of my blog for recipes that I can post, but it only holds one post.  If I want to add recipes, I have to edit the one post and put the new recipe either at the top or the bottom of the document.  So, I'm going to post recipes as regular posts from now on.  Here is the link to the Steak and Potato Soup recipe I used.  Since I'm allergic to olive oil, I used Wegman's Basting Oil and t white potatoes instead of russetts.  The hubs gets heartburn from cooked tomatoes, so instead of using 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, I squirted a smidge of tomato paste from a tube in there and mixed it in with the veggies until it carmelized, just to bring some color and flavor depth to the dish.  I had a bowl for lunch and it was DELISH!  I am serving it for dinner, tonight and then will freeze the rest.  

It's funny that the recipe says to serve it with Ree Drummond's "The Bread".  I just made The Bread for the 1st time on Monday night to go with Spinach and Cheese Tortellini.  It was good, but not as goooood as she described it.  And I know why, too.  The hubs was upstairs with the boy b/c the boy needed a shower and refused to be on a different floor all by himself, when he called down to ask what was burning.  So, I had to take the bread out of the oven.  :o(  It needed about 30 more seconds under the broiler to be goooood.  The hubs didn't even eat any b/c he was not feeling well.  I am going to put the leftover bread back in the broiler tonight to finish it off to the gooooodness stage and serve with the soup.  He'll thank me!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 13 Through 30 On The Whole30

We were happier, calmer with the changes we had made in our diet.  I know we cannot continue to say we are on The Whole30 when we are eating non-approved Whole30 foods, but we were happy to have stuck with most of our food changes.  We were still cooking with foods in their natural state, we thought.

On day 16, we were supposed to leave for a week+ at the Eastern Shore.  We decided to wait until the morning of day 17 before leaving, due to the amount of heavy rains and flooding that was occurring between our Washington, DC area and the Eastern Shore.  Plus, a tractor trailer accident had shut down one of the Bay Bridges on Day 16, and we did not want to be stuck in traffic on top of flooding.  We arrived at our beach house at 10:30am on day 17.

Whether I am away from home one night or one month, I have to unpack everything upon arrival.  As I was setting out our personables in the bathroom, I tripped over the scale.  Now, we are not supposed to weigh ourselves during the 30 days - only before we start and after we finish.  But I convinced myself I was already on that "slippery slope" you here politician mention so frequently, since we had added back some non-approved Whole30 foods.  Also, every scale was different and this particular scale looked like it had been bought with the house, at least 40 years ago, so there was no way it could be accurate anyway.  I stepped on and, to my surprise, it said I was down 13 pounds.  I said, "WHAAAAAAT?!" just like the minion from Despicable Me.  I dismissed it; "It's just an old, uncalibrated scale," I told myself.  I should have listened to the scale and stuck to the program the entire trip and would be better off now...  Anywho, I had alcohol twice on our 9 day vacation, Grotto Pizza twice, spinach dip (with dairy ingredients) one night, ate some potatoes and drank a soda half of the days at the beach.  Blasphemer!  ;o)

Yesterday, while doing our grocery shopping, we took our blood pressure and weight again at the pharmacy, to see if anything changed.  My blood pressure and heart rate had gone down and I had lost 6 pounds.  Is that the difference between scales, the non-approved foods I ate and drank at the beach or the fact that I did not weigh myself naked, 1st thing in the morning after peeing?  Who knows.  What I do know is that I dropped 2 clothing sizes and 2 bra sizes.  At first, I started to berated myself.  "If you'd only stuck to the plan completely and worked out more at the gym, you'd have lost so much more weight!"  But it isn't about losing more.  I lost 2 sizes!  I'm happy with that!  I know how much better we can look and feel by eating "clean" foods - whole ingredients without preservatives and chemicals.  So we are going to strive to live as clean as possible.  With the occasional homemade spinach and artichoke dip and a blood-orange martini.  ;o)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Days 4 through 12 on The Whole30

It was brutal.  The hubs and I were hungry and in bad moods all the time.  I could tell that I was losing weight by how loose my clothes were getting and how different my stomach looked.  But I don't necessarily attribute that to how great the program is; I believe it had more to do with the fact that I was not getting enough calories in me daily.  I honestly believe that The Whole30 is a great program.  For some reason, however, the hubs and I were more on an Adkins diet instead of The Whole30, and that is why we were so miserable.  I love vegetables but, for some reason, I was not able to get the amount into us that we needed.  We were eating mostly proteins and just some vegetables and fruit.  I was so frustrated!  Why couldn't I figure this out?!

By the time we had reached day 10, the hubs and I had argued more in the past 7 days than we had in the past 7 years.  We declared no diet was worth that!  On day 11 we were to attend my mom's annual family reunion.  The hubs and I decided that, regardless of what was being served, we were going to eat and drink whatever the Hell we wanted because it had to be better than what we were going through.  Oh, how wrong we were...  That night, September 4-5, neither one of us slept much.  The hubs, who had not taken any heartburn medication since we started The Whole30, could not lay down from the terrible heartburn.  He took some Prilosec and had to sit up all night long.  I tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable.  When I did doze off occasionally, I had nightmares and woke with a start, frequently.  The next day we were sluggish and irritable instead of just being irritable.

We decided to make some changes.  We knew we should not go back to eating as we had before starting The Whole30, but we also knew we could not continue as we were.  So, we compromised.  Due to my olive oil allergy and the disgustingly sweet taste of cooking in coconut oil, we added back canola oil and Wegman's Basting Oil.  We also decided to add back a starch - brown rice.  We agree with the belief of The Whole30's regarding soybean oil.  We are still vigilant to avoid soy products.  It was amazing to see how those few changes made a difference in ourselves, our marriage and our home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gratitude and Mushrooms

Yesterday I anticipated a rough return to B's lessons after we spent 9 days at the beach.  And what a glorious 9 days they were!  *sigh*  But I was pleasantly surprised.  B was focused and attentive and we had a great time.  He reads to me from a chapter book everyday and yesterday it was from Riding The Pony Express by Clyde Robert Bulla.  He chose to lay down on the floor under one of the living room windows, between the sofa and his desk, so I laid down next to him.  There was just enough room for the two of us.  He's gotten so much better with his reading that I did not feel the need to read along with him and ensure he is saying the correct word, not skipping words nor adding words that are not there.  We seem to be just about out of that phase.  I can tell if there is a difficult word b/c of his hesitation and he will ask for help if need be.  So I just laid there with my eyes closed, enjoyed the story and was filled with such contentment and pride.

When he finished the chapter, I opened my eyes and turned to look at him at the same time he turned to look at me.  As he read the feelings in my eyes, a huge smile spread across his face and then he rolled on top of me and gave me a big hug.  That morning, the hubs and I had been talking about our finances since I recently quit my part-time job, and I was worried.  But that worry was wiped away and now I was so happy and grateful for this boy of mine and a husband who supported me and didn't doubt that we would be OK.  So, I said, "B, I am so grateful to God for you and your daddy.  We have so much to be thankful for that I want to thank Him right now.  Will you pray with me?"  He says, all perky, "Sure, Mama, I'll pray with you.  Go on with your pray!"  (Hehehe - he calls prayers, "prays", and the way he said it was like, "Go on witcha bad self!")  After giving thanks, we finished up with the rest of our lessons and then had lunch.  B could not believe we were done; he said lesson time went by fast.  I'm glad he felt that way because it was almost 4 hours.

After lunch we went for a nature walk.  I got the idea from another HSer in the group I belong to.  She shared with us what she did with her children and I loved the idea.  After all the walking we did at the beach, it was hard being inside for so many hours, so I thought a nature walk would be fun.  I had B take a pad of paper and a pencil in case he wanted to sketch anything he saw and I had the camera on my phone.  The theme of the outing quickly became "Mushrooms".  They were everywhere and all different kinds!  I don't know if the high amounts of water and cloudiness recently has bred them or if they've always been there and I never saw them.  But I took pictures of them and B drew them.   There was this one group of trees, under which, we could not find any mushrooms, but we found several small spots that had been dug up.  I said to B I wonder if someone or something has been digging up the mushrooms to eat.  It wasn't a dog, b/c the wholes were small and precise.  Finally we found a hole with half of a dug up mushroom left in  it.  Who is digging them up - a neighbor, a squirrel, a raccoon?  We were going to try and find out what the mushrooms were when we got home by comparing our pictures with those on the internet, but the hubs was already home when we got back to the house, so all that went out the window.  It was fun-daddy time!  When I put B to bed last night he said, "Mama?  I had a really fun time on our nature walk.  We should do it again sometime."

Here is a picture I took of him sketching a mushroom:




Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Rest of Our New England Trip in August

Sorry I've left you hanging on the rest of our trip to New England last month.  I took notes while on the trip in on of those 6"x 9", top-spiraled notebooks so I would remember what I wanted to blog about.  However, I had not been able to find the book again for the past week to continue my story.  We must have at least a hundred of these books around the house!  I don't know where they come from!  I don't buy them.  I found my notes in the 6th notebook I looked through tonight.  *sigh*  Anywho, I'm just glad I found it and when I'm done tonight, I need to put in a place where the hubs can't include it in his "straightening up".

I love how sparsely settled Vermont is compared to where I live.  Just mountains and valleys of green that go on and on.  The view kept me so occupied during the drive.  I never get tired of seeing the shadows of the clouds on the mountains nor the trees growing out of the rock faces where the roads were carved out of mountains.  Those trees are a wonderful example of perseverance!  When I was a kid, we would drive up to Vermont at least twice a year and I've missed it.

On the afternoon of August 19th, we went to The Vermont Country Store, one of the very few places I actually go willing to shop.  I wanted to buy everyone on my Christmas list presents there.  In the morning we were hanging at the rec room of my Nana's apartment complex, playing board games and doing laundry, when a storm rolled in.  The thunder is amazing to hear, rolling down from the mountain tops and echoing back up.  What a beautiful symphony of nature.  There was a piano in the rec room and B wanted to try it.  He does not play; we don't even have a piano.  My ILs have a small, electric one and B loves to sit for a bit every time we visit them in Baltimore.  He tries to teach himself parts of songs by ear, like Row, Row, Row Your Boat.  He sat down at that upright, in the rec room, in the middle of a storm in Southern Vermont and his fingers just flew over those keys.  He wasn't playing a known piece; he was creating his own.  It was an absolutely beautiful concerto!  He played hard and soft, high and low, cords and notes.  What a concert between his playing, the steady rhythm of the falling rain and the echos of thunder.  I was so mesmorized, I didn't even think to get out my camera and record his playing until he was done.  I am so upset at myself for that!  One of the other residents was heading out for a walk when the storm hit and ducked into the rec room to wait it out.  She also felt blessed to hear this spontaneous creation of B's that day.

We headed down to Massachusetts on Saturday morning to attend my cousin's wedding that afternoon.  It was a beautiful ceremony with the most poignant vows.  When an officiant says the standard, "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health" to a bride and groom, most of us have no idea what worse, poorer or sickness could possible be waiting for us and plenty of us are not equipped to deal with it.  But this minister had realistic and direct vows that couples nowadays could use and truly live by, "I will love you even when you drive me crazy; I will respect you even when we argue".

The wedding was an interracial marriage and there was no bride side or groom side for sitting.  We all mingled throughout the seats.  There was a vase with a hole in the middle that the couple went to during the ceremony.  The minister held a bottle of white sand, the bride a bottle of light green sand and the groom a bottle of black sand.  The minister poured half of his sand in the bottom and the bride and groom then poured in their own sands, sometimes together, sometimes taking turns, until their bottles were empty.  Then the minister poured the rest of his white sand on top.  The white sand represented God, the foundation and roof of their union.  Sometimes a layer of green sand was thicker, sometimes the black, symbolizing when one will be strong and the other will lean on the 1st.  It was a lovely vase to display in their home as a daily reminder.

The reception was fabulous!  We were still eating dinner, the DJ was playing some music in the background and B asked if he could go visit my parents who were assigned to another table.  Their table happened to be right in front of the DJ and when he got there, the song changed to one he really liked.  The wall behind the head table was mirrored and my boy just loves watching himself in a mirror.  Forgetting that the room was full of people, he turned to the mirror, got into his zone and just danced.  Table by table, people started turning to watch him and the videographer came up behind him, filming, but he was completely unaware.  He was in his happy place.  When the song ended and the place erupted in applause, he finally noticed his audience; and he was hooked.  I don't think I got him to sit down for the rest of the night.

By the end of the night, the DJ was ready to hire B as his partner because he said B could get a crowd going and keep it going.  B and one of his 10 yr old female cousins, H, were selected to get the whole place on the dance floor.  H was shy and did not want to dance in front of everyone, but B told her not to worry, he would lead.  And lead he did!  It was awesome!  After a minute, the DJ stopped the music and that was the cue for B & H to go grab a new partner from the tables.  Every time the music stopped, if you were on the dance floor you had to run and pull someone new onto the dance floor, too.  It was crazy fun.  We also did the Soul Train dance line!  I'd never done that before and it was so awesome!  It was such a proud night for me.  When so many people from both families told me what a great dancer B was, I knew my baby really had a gift.  And he had such confidence.  On the way back to the hotel he just beamed.  As I tucked him into bed he said sleepily, "Mama, my objective was to dance with the bride tonight and I danced with her three times."  You sure did, baby.  You sure did.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Elderly Drivers and Yelling Parents

I went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon.  I needed to get the ingredients for my Broccoli Salad for tomorrow's family reunion and I was determined to not step foot inside a grocery store from 4pm Friday through 8am Tuesday.  ;o)  I don't know about you, but I get some great insight into human nature in the parking lot of my grocery store.  Two things stood out from yesterday's trip:

  1. At a certain age, the DMV needs to require the elderly to take a driving test to renew their license, and 
  2. It takes a "special" kind of parent to scream at their child in public.

There are so many elderly drivers out there that do not belong on the road!  I know there are plenty of people between the ages of 16 and 70 who also don't belong on the road, but I am only going to talk about the elderly tonight.  I don't know at what age the DMV should require the driving test for renewal because everyone ages differently.  Some 88 year olds act like they're 49 while some 65 year olds act like they roamed the desert for 40 years with Moses.  But I think 70 would be a good round number at which to start.  When your license is up for renewal on your 70th birthday, you must drive to the DMV and drive around one of their employees.  See, in my state, you can just renew the thing online and too many people fall through the cracks!  If you are too timid and refuse to go over 25 MPH or make a right turn on red after a complete stop, you should not have your license renewed.  Depending on if you pass with flying colors or barely squeak by, the DMV should have some recourse, like choosing to set your license up for renewal again between 1 and 5 years.  That would make me very happy.  It would also reduce accidents and road rage.

If you are a parent, you have yelled at your child at least once.  And don't try to pull the wool over my eyes and tell me that you have never done it.  Even Mary, herself, yelled at Jesus after the relief of finding him in that temple as a tween wore off.  Most people have never seen nor heard us do it, but we do it, in the privacy of our own homes and cars.  We may, when the need arrises, chastise or correct our children firmly and with an unpleasant face and a your-in-big-trouble-mister tone of voice in public, but we don't scream at our kids.  Let's all take a moment to pat ourselves on the back, shall we?  ......I'm serious; why aren't you patting....I'm not continuing this story until you pat yourself.  Come oooooon.  No one's watching.  There you go!  Don't you feel better?  You should!  We refrain from screaming at our kids in public even when they scream at us!  I have an assignment for all of you - next time you see a kid going off on a parent in public, go up and pat them on the back!  Give the I've-been-there-and-I-feel-for-you-just-hang-on-until-you-get-home-to-your-wine-bottle-sister look and then look the other way.  The more people staring, the worse it feels, doesn't it?

Anywho...as I'm putting my bags in the back of my car, a mother is yelling at her tween daughter as they arrive at their car.  The mom pops the trunk and proceeds to go sit in the driver's while her slip of a daughter loads the bags into the trunk.  The mom left her door open and yelled not-so-nice instructions to the girl to make sure she loaded something or other the way she is supposed to because last time she chose not to listen to her mother and her something-or-other was not in optimum condition when they got home.  Then she got back out the car, inspected the placing of the bags in the trunk, was not happy and yelled some more.  As the poor girl returns the cart to corral the mom yelled across the lot to make sure she returned the cart the proper way b/c if she has to come over there and correct it, she's gonna be pissed.  Wow.  If this isn't pissed, I don't want to see it.  Unless the hubs is around; he would love to see it and then give the woman a little taste of her own medicine.  But he wasn't there; his butt was on the couch shooting bucks on an iPad game.  @@

You know, we all have a little "house devil, street angel" in us.  There are things we'll say or do to our loved ones in the comfort of our own home that we wouldn't dare do to do a friend nor dare to be seen doing to our family in public.  It's sad, we all realize it and we try real hard not to do it, but it happens once in a while.  This woman is some piece of work to act like she did in public.  Makes you wonder what she's really like in the comfort of her own home.