Friday, April 11, 2014

Chicken & Asparagus Deliciousness in ONE pan!

I like making a meal, but if it requires a lot of work, then it doesn't happen on a school night.  Sunday nights are our 'try something new' night where Dave and I try to get along and accomplish a "project" together.  Some of our biggest successes have been Steak Diane, Smothered Cube Steak, roasted chicken, sweet and sour chicken and fried rice, and most recently:  chicken and asparagus in a cream sauce.  A version of this recipe was on the cover of "Family Circle" a few months ago, but we of course tweaked it a bit.

First step:  Boil asparagus in about 1/2 inch of boiling water (in my biggest skillet), about 4 minutes.  Then run it under cold water to stop the cooking process and keep it nice and green.

Now that the skillet is empty, fry up about 4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Once the bacon is crispy, transfer the bacon to paper towels and put the bacon grease in another dish (like a cereal bowl).

Now that the skillet is empty (again!), fry 4-6 chicken breasts (that have been salt-n-peppered) in about 1 Tbsp. of bacon grease.  This takes about 5 minutes on each side.

Remove the chicken breasts (like onto a plate) and throw about 1 Tbsp. of flour into the empty (again!) skillet and whisk in a can of chicken broth to form a roux.  Add about 1 tsp. of the bacon grease to this liquid and bring to a simmer while stirring.

Add the chicken and asparagus to the cream sauce and spoon some of the cream sauce over the tops of the meat and vegetable.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until everything is heated through and the roux has cooked down to desired consistency.  Throw the bacon on top before serving!

Dave felt the need to add a quartered lemon because he thought it would bring out the flavors; I'm not a big fan of lemon like this, so I'll leave it out next time.

This dish was REALLY good, and I really didn't have too many dirty dishes! It was kind of time-consuming and wasn't something you could walk away from, but it was REALLY good, so it was worth it in the end!!!

I'm looking forward to Illinois' asparagus season (if spring ever gets here)!  What's your favorite way to eat asparagus?

P.S.  Thanks to Danny Daly for being the official photographer of this endeavor.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A new addition to the family!

Drew's 4-H cow had her baby yesterday!  Even though it's April, it still feels like late November--bad day to be born at the back of the pasture!

Dave and my dad brought Mackie and her calf up to the barn (the cow walked, but the calf rode on Dave's lap in the back of the truck,) and put her in a stall with a little nest under a heat lamp for the calf.
When we came out to see him, Dave got the calf up on is feet and told him it was time to eat!

As we stood there and watched, it was amazing to see his little calf instincts at work, he kind of stumbled around his mom, finally figuring out where he needed to be.  Just as he was almost in "position", Mackie swung her head around and gave him a little bump on the backside as if to say, "Yep, that's it!  Go to town!"

He's a cute little guy, I'm sure Mackie got him all licked off and once his tummy was full he settled back down under the heat lamp and had a nice nap.

As we walked back out of the cow lot, Dave had to love up his favorite cow, "Red".  I didn't realize he had this special relationship... I guess they're quite good friends.

Holly found this baby sleeping by the fence while his mom was up at the hay feeder.  Notice this one's WHITE head?!? I'm sure that this is what baby George will look like the next time we see him.

Oh, yeah!  Drew named him George because he was born on Grandma Georgeanne's birthday!  Happy belated birthday, Georgeanne :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A week (of spring break!) inside a teacher's head...

I may be only speaking for myself, but I am hoping that all my teacher-friends will weigh in and *hopefully* agree with me about what goes on inside a teacher's head this time of the year, otherwise I guess this means I need therapy:

Friday, the day before spring break starts:  "I can't stand any of these kids.  If I never see any of them again it will be too soon.  A meteorite could hit this town for all I care."

Saturday night, the first official full day of spring break:  "I need to start looking for another non-teaching job because I am NEVER going back to work at Pecatonica High School EVER again.   I should get on the internet and job search.  But, I think I'll just do anything else, because I may come across something school -related on the computer"--insert gagging sounds here.

Tuesday evening, day 4 of spring break:  "I wonder how L__ and her family are enjoying their trip to the Keys...I hope they are having a good time... I wonder if A___ and her friends made it to her aunt's house in St. Louis... I hope they are having a good time....  Oh look, there is the softball team practicing in the lot next to the grocery store!  Aren't they having a good time!  How nice for them!... I wonder if B___ is behaving himself... I hope he is, he's such a good kid, deep down inside..."

Thursday evening-carried over to Friday morning, days 6 and 7 of spring break:  "Hmm, we start the chapter on radical expressions and radical equations when we get back on Monday. I sure love that chapter!  I'm really excited about playing that game I learned a few years ago that introduces simplifying radicals!  This is going to be a great! Hmm, what else can I dream up to make next week fun?"

Saturday noon, day 8 of spring break:  "Wow!  When we get back to work on Monday, there will only be about 8 weeks of school left!  Oh no!  I'm going to miss these guys next year; I've really had a good group of kids this year!  Now I'm sad."

Sunday, last day of spring break:  "Ok!  I CAN do this, I AM excited, this is going to be GREAT!  And boy am I glad I had a week off to regain some of my sanity...Good thing a meteorite didn't actually hit..."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Random sweetness sightings...

A few months ago I was telling my coworkers about a blow-up I had at (or is it "on") the girls the night before.  It went something like this:
I told them not to pull on the curtain that I had just washed and fluffed and folded and swagged "just right".   Sure enough, one of them walked by and yanked it down.  Then a few minutes later, the other one (or maybe the same one) walked by and yanked it again.  I told them to stop pulling on the curtains twice, and then after the third time I BLEW UP!  And it sounded like this:  "That's it!  I've told you 2 times in the last 15 minutes not to tug on the curtain!  There will be NO FLASHCARDS before bed!"

I was THAT parent: the one who punished their kids by taking away their... flashcards.  You see, we had gotten into this routine where we did flashcards every night before bed and they were loving it!  They were learning math!  They were able to beat their peers who were still doing adding and subtracting!  They were getting all this secret knowledge about how multiplication is just repeated addition and how there is a trick for the 9's!  The next day I woke up with this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Who cares about a curtain?  If I'd have tucked it under the rod like it was BEFORE I took it down to wash it, this wouldn't have even been an issue.  And seriously, the flashcards?  Do you hear how stupid this sounds?!?!

Anyway, here's the happy ending:

I walked into the girls' room the other night to put them to bed and found this on their dry-erase board.

They had been doing math for fun!  I guess they still love math and I haven't ruined them after all!

By the way, shortly after the NO FLASHCARDS FOR YOU incident, we started reading again.  We recently finished Caddie Woodlawn; totally loved it!  Next up is Island of the Blue Dolphins.  What else should we add to our list of bedtime reads?

Also, on a related note:  Our precious flashcards have their own special bowl (see above).  My grandma was cleaning out her china cabinet and allowed me to pick out something special.  I chose this beautiful antique bowl.  When I got home with it, I thought, "It's so special and pretty and meaningful.  What should I put in it?  Aha!  Our flashcards!"  That's normal, right?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

We DO still exist...

Yes, I've been neglecting my dear blog lately.  My excuses are lame.  I don't have material.  Life has just been business as usual.

But, it's a new week and I have about 1 month and 4 days until my dear blog's 2nd birthday.  My goal is to hit 100 posts by then, so I have 6 more to go.  I had better get busy, right?

Now, for a blog post:

Tomorrow, Danny starts middle school track! He's been running on the treadmill in the evenings after supper and yesterday morning he and I hoofed it down the road.  He hit a mile in under 8.5 minutes, so he's feeling more confident that he can "hold his own" this season.  Last week he passed his drug screen (?!?! seriously, how sad is it that we require this of 7th grade track and field ?!?!?!)  and we bought him some spiffy new shoes today.  He's all set!

Emma's front teeth are starting to grow in nicely, or at least one of them is...

And I'm really going places in the world of nail polish fashion (there must be a better phrase for this...)  I saw on Pinterest something about pairings of toes and fingers polish, the theory is that you should do neutrals and nudes up top and something flashy and bright down low.  I think I nailed it:  (Get it? See what I did there? Ha ha!)

Toes:  Pink Promenade
Fingers:  Wall Street
Brand:  NYC.  Both can be purchased for $1.47 at Target.  Both will last about 34 hours and 20 minutes before chipping (or two sinks full of dishes and a hair-shampooing.)  And I think that the obvious needs to be stated:  Yes, yes I did waste moments of my life attempting to take a picture of my fingers and toes at the same time.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sometimes I feel like I will lose my mind...

For instance:  every time I walk in and out of my kitchen...

Let's take closer look:

Contents of this pile include

  • trombone
  • saxophone
  • 4 back packs
  • 1 gym bag--buried under the purple back pack, just to the left of the saxophone-- (Drew's basketball jersey and shoes)
  • 1 lunch bag (an escapee of a back pack)
  • a bag of bags--far left-- (that needs to be taken back to the van for the next grocery trip)
  • a sweatshirt (that needs to be put in the laundry)
But, I guess the good news is that a) I have 2 musical sons, b) these middle-school aged sons brought work home with them (hence the stuffed back packs), c) we know where to find everything at 6:45am, d) this, too, shall pass.

When we move this spring, I have big plans for our new "mud room" of sorts (thanks, Pinterest!):  
Head on over to one of my favorite DIY blogs:

In the mean time, any suggestions on what to do with this mess?  When we have company over, it goes in the laundry room on top of the deep freeze...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My thoughts on "selfies"...

If that isn't a blog post buzz kill, I don't know what is...  (Also-- I don't know how to best organize my thoughts, so here goes nothing...)

Part I:  Seriously, though.  My students (the girls, primarily) are ALWAYS taking selfies.  Just yesterday at the end of a class period, I watched a student take a selfie of herself and I thought to myself, "She looks so stupid doing that.  I wonder if she realizes it.  What a narcissist!  I bet she doesn't even know what narcissism is... I hope this trend ends soon because it is SO DUMB!".  And then, thank God, the bell rang.

Part II:  Remember a few weeks ago, at Nelson Mandela's funeral, President Obama and what's-her-name? posted a selfie on Twitter and it was a viral sensation?
  I was APPALLED by our president.  I found it to be the most tacky, disrespectful thing EVER.

Part III:  I am reading a book right now, WONDER, by P.J. Palacio.
  The story is told by a 5th grade boy who has severe facial deformities and starts school for the first time (having been home schooled up until this point).  Parts of the story are also told by the children in his class and family.  It is so fascinating.  The main theme is bullying, but what speaks to me is how we look at other people once we get to know them.  In our hearts, we don't see their faces, we see their souls.

Part IV:  I came across this video on another blogger's website:

It's longish, but SO worth the 8 minutes.   I got tears in my eyes as I listened to the BEAUTIFUL girl with braces, glasses, and the slouchy beanie describe herself.  And the girl with long dark hair that said, "...When they talked about their insecurities- when the said they were insecure about things- those were the things that made them different.  But the things that made them different made them unique. And...that made them beautiful."    HOW PROFOUND!

Part V:  I realize now, that I am thinking about selfies all wrong.  It really hit a nerve when the same girl (in the video) said that in taking a selfie, you are showing the world that your own beauty, that you are  "....strong, brave, and happy with yourself."  Oh. Wow.  I guess I was wrong.   So here you go, my first selfie: