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?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Gift For My Parents

I took several pictures of this, all over my house, trying to avoid any reflection of my house, me or the camera in the glass.  I was not successful, but this had the least reflection in it - just my camera, my wrists and my hands.  ;o)
I found this beautiful idea on Pinterest for a gift for your mom.  You really should go and look at the original pin because it is so nicely/professionally done!  I wanted to make one for my parents as a combination Mother's Day/Father's Day gift.  I had such grand plans for how I was going to do this.  Pinterest makes me feel like I can be Martha Stewart but I continually prove that I am only Larry the Cable Guy.  I had different pieces of wood in my cart.  I was going to use letter stencils in different sizes and fonts.  Then I decided to paint a piece of wood white, put letter stickers on the white to spell the words and then paint black over them.  When dry, I would peel off the letters and the color would show through.  But all of those supplies were so expensive and, as usual, I left this project until the last minute; I was going to see my parents that night!

So, my poor, creative side started looking around Michael's and I found the supplies that I ended up using: 16"x20" black frame on clearance; black poster board; Sharpie paint pen in white; Sharpie paint pen in gold.  I was able to cut the poster board into 3 pieces to fit in the frame so I could practice or if I make a mistake.  And, believe me, the one that actually went in the frame was the 6th and last side of those 3 pieces of poster board!  LOL

As a woman, I, of course, am my own worse critic.  I was disappointed in the final product because it is not all spaced nicely, there was not enough room to capitalize "Nana & Pop-Pop" and my printing is not "pretty, female" printing.  I was wishing I had waited until the hubs came home because his handwriting is beautiful.  But then I realized, this is a gift for my parents.  They made me the great parent I am because of their example.  They love me unconditionally and whether I am 4 or 40, they love every thing I make or do for them and are proud of it.  Just like I feel for B.  And I was right; they loved it.  My dad immediately took "real" art off of the living room fireplace mantel and replaced it with what I made.  He said, "I'm not saying that this will be the final place for this.  We may find a better spot in the house to display this.  But for now, I want to put it here."  They are the best parents in the world!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A New Way To Cook Corn

 I read recently on Pinterest about roasting corn on the cob, in the husk, in the oven.  According to the author, when the corn is done, you can cut the bottom off and the cob will fall right out, leaving all the silk with the husk.  Unfortunately, I forgot to pin the directions, but I think I remember the directions.  I preheated the oven to 350, placed the corn directly on the oven rack (see picture, above) and baked for 30 minutes.
 When I took the corn out and sliced off the bottom, my cobs did not slide out.  Starting at the cut bottom, I easily peeled off the layers of husk and every last string of silk did stay with the husks.  :o)  Well worth it, to me!  I know we tend to avoid using our ovens during the Summer, but I love the result so much, I will just plan accordingly, roast the corn in the morning and heat it back up at dinner time.

If you try this and are able to get your cobs to slide right out, let me know!
Silkless cob of corn.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

I find a lot of reading material at Costco.  I peruse the many titles, read the covers and when I see one I want to read, I make a note of it and check it out of the library.  The Postmistress by Sarah Blake was my most recent find.  I was intrigued to find out what secrets the postmistress and the doctor's wife were hiding.  Unfortunately, there was a third female character, a reporter, and the plot was split evenly among the three women.  I did not care for the reporter's story line.  It was not until halfway through the book that her story got remotely interesting to me because a link between the reporter and the doctor's wife was established.  The last fifth of the book, when all three women were in the same town and interacting, was the most interesting part and I dragged my way through the first four fifths. The book gave me something to read while traveling this past week, but I would not recommend it.

I do want to share something from the book that stood out to me, though - how the reporter was told the job was done.  "Seek Truth.  Report It.  Minimize Harm."  Reporters' integrities were based on their unbiased observations.  They stayed out of the way, didn't get involved, and reported the facts, as they saw or heard them, to the people.  That's it.  I miss that integrity in news.  I remember when it still existed, when I was younger.  It is no more and we all suffer from it, in my opinion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leftover Wednesday - Trial & Error Chicken

Saturday through Tuesday we were out of town, visiting my in-laws at their Summer home in the mountains of western North Carolina.  The hubs and I thought we had emptied the fridge of all potentially lethal-foods-if-left-unattended-in-the-fridge before we left, but we were mistaken.  ;o)  We came home to a smelly fridge and it took me a bit to identify the culprits - decaying cilantro and an avocado past its prime.

I awoke this morning with the intent to go mega-grocery shopping since there was not much in the house, but the hubs had other plans.  I am so impressed with the progress this man has made during our 17 years together!  He declared that since tomorrow, Thursday, was our BIG shopping day, we should "make do" with what we had today.  So, after taking B to see the movie, Brave, this afternoon, the hubs and B went off to the range, and I was left to figure out what to make for dinner (popcorn at the theater was lunch).  As you know, I always have chicken breasts on hand and usually chicken wings, pork chops and ground beef.  Before leaving for the range, the hubs said we can do "something" with chicken breasts.

I opened the fridge, stared and tried to receive inspiration.  I saw Brussels sprouts (thank you, Robin D., for correcting me on my reference of this vegetable!) and grape tomatoes, both of which were on the cusp of being thrown out.  Finally, inspiration hit me - Grilled Bruschetta Chicken!  I love this recipe!  It's one of the recipes my friend, Julia, passed onto me.  Although I did not have Kraft's Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing on hand, I had over a pint of grape tomatoes, and I figured I could make something close to that.  I was patting myself on the back for such brilliance (waaaaay too early, it turns out).

I looked online for recipes of Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette and decided I could substitute the "sun-dried tomatoes" with oven-roasting the grape tomatoes I had on hand.  @@ (That mean "eye rolling" in type.  You may already know that, but I did not always know that, so I am sharing in case you did not know that).  Then I looked online for a recipe to slow-roast tomatoes.  I found 2 that I liked.  One called for roasted grape tomatoes (which I had) for 3 hours at 225 degrees and one called for roasting plum tomatoes (which I did not have) at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Since it was already 4:20pm and I did not have 3 hours to roast said tomatoes, I opted for the higher temp/shorter time recipe.  Unfortunately, I did not allot for the fact that I had grape tomatoes and the recipe called for plum tomatoes.  So, I cut all the viable grape tomatoes in half, sprayed them with grape seed oil (I am allergic to olive oil), grinded fresh pepper corns over them and sprinkled them with Kosher salt.
Don' they look nice?!
I put them in an oven set on Convection Roast for 30 minutes and they came out looking like this...


OK.  So my attempt at Grilled Bruschetta Chicken! did not go as planned.  You know what?!  My "vacation" away with the in-laws did not go "as planned" either, but I was not going to be defeated.  By now, it was after 5pm, so I made myself a drink, and knew the hubs would help me figure out dinner when he and B came home from the range.  And he did!  He went out back and snipped some of our fresh herbs:
He snipped Rosemary and Thyme and mixed them with Panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and I added Parmesan cheese and did the traditional flour, egg wash, seasoned bread crumb mixture into a pan with oil.  And that's all we had for dinner - chicken.  No Veg.  No starch.  Just chicken.  And it was so wonderful and flavorful that we did not need anything else!  We went/are going to bed as happy campers with full bellies!  Woohoo for Leftover Wednesday!

Friday, June 22, 2012

EEK!

I can't sleep.  I'm up watching a movie and surfing Pinterest.  My cup was empty and I went into the kitchen to refill it.  As I approached the fridge, I stepped on something that went, "Crunch."  *sigh*  Is it a piece of cat food or something B dropped, I wondered.  I look down, and it was this:
HOLY CRAP!  I just killed a bug with my bare foot!  And bug killing is "men's work"!  I turned around, grabbed a paper towel and turned back to the bug.  The mother fucker was walking away.  (As I type this, I keep running my hand over the right side of my neck because I feel like something is crawling on me!)  I scoop him up with the paper towel and squish really hard until I hear multiple crunches.  Before tossing him in the trash, I opened the paper towel to ensure he's dead.  I sighed in relief and turned to the sink to wash my hands and found this:
(Please don't judge me by the crud on the wall behind the sink.  There is only builder primer on the kitchen walls; the owner never painted a semi-gloss and there is years' old shit in that wall.)  I am so proud of myself for not screaming bloody murder.  But I did jump and clutch my heart, though, waiting for it to restart.

I can just hear the hubs now, "And that's what you get for staying up late!"  It's a good thing he doesn't read my blog.  If he finds out he's right about something, it will totally goes to his head.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Leftover Wednesday - Veggie Platter


We didn't have leftovers last night; we went out to eat.  Due to B's allergies, we weren't able to go out for the hubs' Father's Day dinner Sunday, so we went last night.  But we had 2 leftover dinners last week, so I have one to share with you.  Evidently I was too ambitious with my produce shopping, because I had a ton left over.  So much so, there was no room for protein nor starch at dinner.  We ate roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted green beans and sautéed baby bok choy.

In the past, I roasted Brussels sprouts at 350 for half an hour, turning halfway through.  My friend, Kathy, roasts hers at 400 for 10-15 minutes.  I decided to try her way.  I washed and dried the sprouts, sliced off the bottom of the stems, halved them and tossed them in a bowl with a little Wegmans Basting Oil.  I placed the sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet, all face up, sprinkled them with a little Kosher salt and put them in the oven at 400.  After 15 minutes, they were colored nicely and I took them out.

There was no room for the beans on the pan, so they went in next.  Same way as the sprouts, but they only need to roast for 5-7 minutes.

The baby bok choy was washed, dried and cut in half, lengthwise.  I heated a tbsp of sesame oil in a pan and added the bok choy, cut side down.  While those sautéed, I pressed a couple of cloves of garlic and grated approx. 1/2" of fresh ginger.  Then I turned the bok choy over, added the garlic and ginger to the pan and stirred it around for a minute or two.  Then I added 1/3 - 1/2 cup Wegmans Asian Classics Stir-Fry Sauce until it was heated through, then removed to our plates.

Yummy, yummy, in my tummy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Royal Caribbean's Commercial - "The Sea Is Calling"

Have you seen this commercial?  I think it is a good marketing strategy.  The commercial sure has made an impression on me.  I recognized the voice of "The Sea" but could not figure out who it was.  It's been driving me crazy for months!  Well, I just saw the commercial again and took to the internet to solve the mystery for myself.  I love the internet!  The answer is Linda Larkin, the voice of Princess Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin.  YES!  That is totally her.


Phew!  Now I can move on to obsess about something else.  ;o)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Leftover Wednesday - The Pioneer Woman's White Chili


I actually had 2 leftover nights in a row this week, but I am only going to tell you about 1 today and I'll save the other for later.  We had The Pioneer Woman's White Chili.  I have wanted to make white chili for a few years now but the hubs discouraged me.  He is not a fan of chili at all.  I don't blame him.  I never ate it growing up and it looked gross - all that ground beef and beans nobody eats except disguised in chili...  Well, I now make a yummy vegetarian chili that I can not get enough of, but the hubs still doesn't want me to make it.  You see, his tummy cannot take cooked tomatoes.  And canned tomatoes are the staple for any home manager feeding a family on a budget!  *sigh*  Anywho, his need to stay away from tomatoes was the perfect reason, in my book, to make white chili, but he wasn't having it.  Probably because we both thought it had to involve ground chicken or turkey which, let's face it, is usually dry when cooked.

But Ree Drummond came to the rescue and provided me with a fairly simple White Chili recipe that uses pulled chicken meat, not ground.  And that's not even the best part!  This recipe not only helped me clean out the fridge, but also clean out the pantry.  *insert angels singing, here*

I did not make White Chili with the intention of it being a Leftover Wednesday meal.  It had just been on my mind since watching Ree's Food Network show over the weekend, on which she made regular chili.  I went looking for a recipe yesterday so I could get the necessary ingredients at our big, bi-weekly grocery shopping trip, which is tomorrow.  As I read through the ingredients list, I went on a hunt through the house to find out what I did and did not have.  Turns out I had it all in the house already and I didn't even know it!  I don't even know why I bothered looking, that's how sure I was that I had nothing but I'm so glad I did.  I found the block of Monterey Jack cheese in the freezer (had no idea it was there!) and half a bag of Great Northern beans sitting on the pantry shelf in the basement along with a can of diced, green chilies.  3/4 of the remaining cilantro in the fridge was melting (if you buy cilantro regularly, you know what I'm talking about) but there was one handful's worth completely untouched, so I ripped it off and used it.  Sill jalapeños in the fridge from the guacamole-that-never-was Memorial Day weekend and 1 onion and half a head of garlic left.  Chicken stock and chicken is always on hand and don't ask me why I have Masa.  Don't even remember why or when I bought it but I'm glad I did!  It was divine intervention that this dish came together this week, I'm tellin' you!  I do have to say, the thawed chicken breasts sitting in the bowl in the picture, above, don't look right.  I can identify a couple of body parts that are not fit for mixed company.  Moving along...

The original recipe said it made 8 servings.  I halved it and got 5, 1 cup servings, which was plenty to feed the adults in this house.  And if you are on Weight Watchers, 1 cup of this stuff = 8 points, with 4oz of cheese in the pot, no extra in your bowl.  The 3 of us had 2.5 cups total at dinner and then I froze the rest in a quart-size freezer bag for another night.
Ree's chili is not as wet as mine and her beans are bigger.  The hubs loved the chili but did comment the beans seemed a little underdone because there was some firmness to them.  There totally was and I know why.  The beans were old.  I believe I bought the bag originally when we tried B on the Feingold Diet 4 years ago.  So, it will get added to the rotation and I will buy new beans!  Let me know if you try this one!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our Summer Bucket List

My friend, Julie, has a wonderful blog, Creekside Learning.  She is the put together blogger and homeschool mom that I aspire to be.  A couple of weeks ago, Julie and the Creekside Family came up with a Summer Bucket List, and I thought that was a fabulous idea.  The other night, while putting B to bed, we thought up all the things we'd love to do this Summer.  Our list is very ambitious (read - too long and unattainable) but that's us!  I look at it this way - everything we don't get done this Summer will carry over to next year so we won't have to create a list then.  :o)  So here it is:

Our Summer Bucket List

  1. Drive-in movie
  2. Zoo
  3. Amusement or water park
  4. Beach
  5. Skateboarding camp
  6. Gymnastics camp
  7. Cartooning camp
  8. Get an Avengers LEGO set
  9. Free Summer movies
  10. Go out for ice cream
  11. Catch an ice cream truck
  12. Make our own ice cream
  13. Sleepover with best friend
  14. Sprayground
  15. Lay in the backyard and admire the stars
  16. Campout in the backyard
  17. Make s'mores
  18. Have friends over for a BBQ
  19. Whenever we want/need to go to the library, walk instead of drive
  20. Save a life
  21. Art classes at home
  22. Pick berries
  23. Go on a nature hike
  24. Make a new friend
  25. Scavenger hunt through the alphabet with a camera
  26. Get B to ride a bike
  27. Michael's in-store passport crafts
  28. Vacation Bible School
  29. Minor league baseball game
Since we made the list, we have done #10 and #24.  Out of necessity (no car) we walked to the library twice in the week before making the list.  We enjoyed it so much, we put it on the list and committed ourselves to continue doing that.  He's already signed up for VBS later this month and I am working on getting him signed up for the camps he's interested in.  I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish from it this Summer!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

End of Year Testing

B and I finished up his end of year test this week because our state requires proof of progress from homeschoolers each Summer.  Wednesday B had a meltdown during one section of his Math test because the problem did not look exactly like problems he'd done before.  The problem looked like this:

 104
+  7

He flipped out because the number of digits on the bottom were not the same as the number of digits on the top, i.e.,

   104          6          33
+456        +9       +88

*sigh*  His, I don't-know-how-to-do-it-so-I'm-sure-I-will-get-it-wrong-so-I'm-not-going-to-do-it's ugly head reared up.  We had to visit the safety corner, let it out, regroup, explain the situation and go over the inappropriate reaction to it.  For all his anxiety, he got 3 out of 40 Math questions wrong, a 93%, and none of those 3 were anything like the problem he flipped out over.  He got 5 out of 81 wrong in Language Arts, a 94%.  Two of those 5 he really knew the answer to; he accidentally filled in the wrong bubble.  But I wouldn't let him change his answers.  It is so hard to take the "mom" hat off and just be a teacher during testing!  He asks me questions and I want to help"guide" him to the correct answer or I'm at the table with him, heard him say the correct answer out loud and then watched him fill in the wrong bubble.  However, that defeats the purpose of testing, which is to see how much he actually retained and to teach him a lesson to be careful with each question.

One of the many things I love and admire about B is his common sense, his ability to reason himself to an answer even when he doesn't have the knowledge or isn't sure of something.  He talked his way through some questions he didn't know the answers to, connecting the dots like Six Degrees of Separation, until he came up with an answer that seemed logical enough to choose.  And he was right.  He continues to amaze us and make us proud.

Leftover Wednesday - Breakfast Dinner



I know, I know; it's Saturday.  I'm sorry I was unable to get this post up Wednesday night.  B was preparing to take his brown belt test in Tae Kwon Do today (which he passed) and B and I were finishing up his end of year test because our state requires proof of progress from homeschoolers each Summer.  But I did use up some leftovers to make a great Breakfast-Dinner (that's what we call it when we have breakfast foods for dinner).

Last Saturday we went to a local farmer's market and the hubs bought a loaf of cinnamon apple bread because it, "...smells so gooooood!"  By Wednesday, the loaf was still sitting on the counter, unwrapped.  The cinnamon sugar covering the outside of the bread was starting to liquify.  So I sliced it up and made fabulous French toast with it.  I also made my favorite chiffonade (cut into ribbons) of ham luncheon meat that was at it's use-or-lose date and half an orange I found in the fridge.

Look at the swirling cinnamon in this slice...
...and the chunks of apple in this one!
The bread was so filling, none of us could eat more than 1 slice.  So I cut up the rest of the loaf, wrapped each slice in plastic wrap and then put 3 slices each into 2 freezer bags.  Now the bread won't go to waste, and I can pull it out the next time I was to make a hearty, filling French toast, regular toast with butter or maybe a bread pudding.  Will have to look into that last suggestion...
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

I'm Sorry I Have Been Remiss About Posting, Especially Leftover Wednesday...

...but this week has been full of finishing up B's state required end of year testing, preparing him for his brown belt test in Tae Kwon Do and me watching The History Channel's mini-series on The Hatfields & McCoys.  Lots of tears this week - from B during his end of year test and from me while watching the mini-series.  If you did not watch it this week, I highly recommend it!  It was mos def not appropriate for B, but something for adults to watch after kids are in bed.

Please be patient with me while I catch up.  Thanks!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Getting Hit in the Head With a Vacuum Was Just the Beginning...

I had quite the weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, I was on the landing of the stairs from the main floor to the top floor and our 2004 (read: older, bigger, heavier) Dyson vacuum cleaner was on the top floor.  I was on my hands and knees, cleaning, when the Dyson fell down the stairs and slammed into the top of my head.  I don't know how my head did not receive a laceration because the part that hit me was as close to "sharp" as you can get.  The reason I know what part of the vacuum hit me is because the impact caused it to break off.  It scared the bejesus out of me, hurt like Hell and I cried for an hour (all the while continuing to clean.  This is a huge breakthrough because I HATE to clean but have recently found a new system that seems to be working.  I don't want to jinx myself by blogging about it, so stay tuned...).  Then the hubs and B came home and I flew into the hubs' arms and started sobbing as he repeatedly asked me, "Why didn't you call me so we could come home?" and picked through my hair in search of blood.

After my housework, the hubs and I went outside to do some yard work while B and his "brotha from anotha motha" (B's words, not mine! What the Hell were the hubs and B watching/doing during my stint as a WOHM at nights?!) played in the street. (Don't worry, we live on a dead end street with no traffic except for the residents, who expect kids and parties in the street because it is nicely shaded.)  Anywho, during this yard work, I managed to crack myself in the forehead with a rake handle and whack myself in the left ear with a broom handle hard enough that I have 2 red lumps that hurt like Hell (the vacuum and the broom left painful lumps; luckily, the rake did not and I am good with that).  Luckily, I had a mom's night out planned with one of my fav girlfriends last night.  The restaurant she picked served awesome food, cheap drinks and we had a great time.

Today started off calm enough - the hubs went out for a haircut, we went to church, shopped at Costco and Wegmans, came home to a phone message that the "brotha" wanted to get together again, he came over and he and B played nicely.  Then, I open a bottle of coconut aminos that exploded like a shaken bottle of champagne all over the hubs' white, collared, button-down shirt.  After that, I was preparing to put the pork ribs in the electric pressure cooker and thought the cooking pot was inside the cooking element (but I was wrong) and ended up pouring 2 cups of soda directly on the heating element and it proceeded to pour out the bottom of the pressure cooker, all over my counter,  I grabbed it and pulled it over to the sink to drain but it ran down and into one of my kitchen cabinets (and actually filled a steamer/spaghetti pot in that cabinet), splashed all over the floor and two cushioned, absorbent kitchen floor mats on the way to the sink and by the time I actually got it over the sink, all the soda was gone.  The hubs tried to open up the pressure cooker and dry off the soda so we can continue to use it, but it wouldn't open.  The manual specifically says not to put any liquid in the pressure cooker, only in the removable cooking pot, because you run the risk of electric shock and fire.  The hubs was of the opinion that now that all of the soda has drained out, we can just plug it in, start it up and the heat of the pressure cooker would burn off the soda.  Well, we did it his way and it worked!

I didn't get to eat any of the ribs because I had a mandatory Vacation Bible School meeting from 7-9pm.  I love the little kids.  Unfortunately, I was really late to the volunteer game this year and there were no infant, toddler nor preschool teacher slots left.  I was assigned to be an elementary school-aged leader.  Now, in the past, I have worked in the nursery (who doesn't love and enjoy the babies?) and the kitchen to provide snacks - pretty easy-breezy, fun and stress-free.  As I sat through the meeting tonight and listened to all the security procedures that, rightfully and necessarily, are in place in the world we live in, I was feeling more and more stressed out!

Then at the end of the night I got together with my youth assistant leaders.  VBS participants are up to 5th grade; 6th graders and up get to be youth assistants.  All my assistants have done this job in years past.  Yeah!  They know what they are doing and can help me do my job best!  One of my assistants is an 8th grade boy who is genuine, not one of those teens who's "too cool to care" and excited for VBS to start.  When it was time to go home, he was the only one left with me (the girls had gone home because we were all done).  As a parting line, I told him, "enjoy your last week of school!"  To which he replied, "I'm actually homeschooled.  So I learn all the time."  A veteran at leading VBS, so he knows the ropes and can help me find my way and he's homeschooled, so we have that in common.  I knew right then and there that The Lord had "thrown me a bone" or, more precisely, a life raft, to not only let me know that I am not alone in caring for and being responsible for my 15 3rd and 4th graders in VBS, but he also "opened a window" after the door slamming I experienced this weekend with the vacuum, the rake, the broom, the coconut aminos and the pressure cooker.

God is good and I am so blessed to be His child!