Thursday, October 20, 2016

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Last night for dinner, I tried a new recipe. It was Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken from the Recipe Critic.

And it was quite yummy.  The sauce was rich and fattening but I decided that the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes off set the heavy cream.  It was like getting a double dose of vegetables, right?

It was easy and delicious and I served it with rice and green beans but it would be really good over an angel hair pasta. Sarah and were drinking the sauce by the spoonful after dinner. Which is okay for her since she swims and has the metabolism of a 12-year-old.  Me, not so much.  I'll have to do a few extra laps up and down the steps today to get some of that sauce off before it decides to call my hips and thighs home.

Here's the recipe below but definitely click over to her blog.  She has beautiful pictures of the dish and a nice printable recipe!

Serves: 4-6
  • 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes
  1. In a large skillet add olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown on each side and cooked until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
  2. Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt. Add the chicken back to the pan and serve over pasta if desired.
*If you are serving over pasta and like it saucy, definitely double the sauce.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How many pickled peppers could Peter Piper pick?

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon yesterday tackling these:

And when all was said and done, I had these:

9 quart jars of pickled peppers and 4 pint jars of cowboy candy.

Last year I tried to make pepper jelly with zero success.  I made two different batches.  The first batch was very runny and never got jellified.  Pretty sure that's not a word but you know what I mean.  So on the second batch I added a ton of pectin and it went way past jelly and would have made a good mortar.

I've been seeing several people online talk about cowboy candy and thought I would give it a shot.  It's basically pickled peppers with a ton of sugar in them but no pectin so it's not as thick as a jelly. You are supposed to use it as a relish, as a sandwich spread,over meat, over cream cheese, etc. and I love anything spicy and sweet so I thought I would try it out.

However, the recipe I was following didn't call for very much sugar and it didn't look like it was going to thicken up so I panicked, went online and read her blog post again and it said she had modified other cowboy candy recipes.  But my liquid still didn't look as thick as hers so I went back and cooked up more sugar based on the other recipes I found online and added that back in.  Not sure if I've totally messed them up or not but I guess I will find out in 3 weeks.  Apparently you are supposed to let the cowboy candy sit for that long before you open it in order for the flavors to meld.

In the meantime, we've got more peppers on the vines so if they grow enough before a frost (although it's been in the 80s so a frost seems impossible anytime soon!) I will make another batch using a different recipe.

I still have a ton of tomatoes in the freezer that I need to salsify (also  not a word) but that will be for another day.  I can only do so much old-fashioned domestic work at a time!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Weekend Wrap Up.

That weekend went by way too fast.  But then again, they usually all do. It was just your average weekend around these parts.

Dan and Peter mowed the grass which was about two weeks overdue.  Dan also pulled up all the dead tomato plants from the garden.  All that's left now are the peppers which are still going gang busters.  My plan is to can more of those this week.  I'm even thinking about trying this cowboy candy recipe.  Has anyone ever made this before? It looks really yummy.

Peter is playing basketball again this year and he has outgrown his basketball shoes.  So we headed out to Dick's on Saturday evening after dinner to search for a new pair.  I was a little hesitant heading in there because last year when we were buying his shoes, we waited forever for someone to help literally 20 minutes or more. If you are going to keep your shoes in the back room, then you need to have people working in the shoe area who are able to actually go retrieve the shoes you are trying to sell.

Any who, we proceeded in and Peter found two pairs that he liked and I was excited to be able to find someone in the shoe department.  However, this employee was talking into her earpiece while motioning to me to hand her the shoes.  I told her what sizes I wanted to see in both pairs (12 1/2 and 13) and she said very gruffly, "We probably don't have those sizes." 

She then took out a little device, scanned the bar codes, spoke into her ear piece again and walked away.  Without a word!  Was she going to get the shoes?  Was someone else going to get the shoes? Did they have the shoes?  Who knew.  We were left standing there waiting.  5 or 6 minutes later she came back and said, "We don't have this one at all but  we have this one in a 9." 

Thanks for nothing Dick's Sporting Goods.  I'll be back in to see you hopefully never.

So we did what I didn't want to do and headed to the mall on Saturday night.  It was surprisingly empty.  I took Peter into Foot Locker while Dan took Sarah into Bath and Body Works where they both tried out new scents. Dan came back smelling like vanilla and musk.  Ew.

Peter picked out a couple of different pairs of shoes and we were helped immediately.  They had one of the pairs in size 13 and it fit. However, Peter really liked the other pair better.  The helpful employee told me they could order the shoes and they would be at our house by Wednesday or Thursday and if I signed up for their loyalty rewards program I could get free shipping.

SOLD!  Thank you Foot Locker for having shoes as well as being able to offer alternatives when you don't have exactly what I'm looking for.  Dick's Sporting Goods please take note of Foot Locker's customer service.  You could learn a thing or two.

Sunday was Mass, lunch at my parent's house, and decorating the open shelves in the kitchen.  The pictures of the shelves that I showed in my last post were staged by my designer with her items and since I saw what she did with them, I wanted to give it a shot.

I'm not the Nester so I don't have a barn and house full of items to pull from  when I'm decorating. (I just hate it when I'm reading a decorating blog and they tell me to "shop your house" and  "see what goodies you can find in your other rooms".  Because if I do have a goody in another room, I'm probably pretty happy with it right where it is.  But also, chances are that I don't have any other goodies because I am not a decorator and I don't have a bunch of decorative items just hanging around.

All right...back to my story.  Since I'm not the Nester with a barn and house full of items to pull from when I'm decorating, I did the next best thing!  I went next door to Mom and Dad's house and asked if I could borrow some of their stuff.  My Dad enjoys going to auctions and purchasing old items he thinks he can get at a good price and then reselling them at a better price.  So he has quite a few goodies just hanging out waiting to be sold.  Or in this case...borrowed!

How does it look?

It needs a little tweaking but I think it's a good start! Sarah helped me with this and she's excited to change it out with other items periodically.

Peter had Confirmation class last night and had to turn in his saint name paper.  He has chosen St. Columba to be his confirmation saint. Peter chose St. Columba in part because when we were in Ireland, we saw his grave.  He's buried with St. Patrick and St. Brigid.  He also led some rebellions against the king and Peter thought that was "pretty savage".  So, St. Columba it is! 

And with that, the weekend was over and now it's back to work, school, laundry, groceries, you know - just a regular Monday! 

Have a great week y'all!

Friday, October 14, 2016

My new kitchen!

{{insert trumpet blast}}

The long awaited kitchen reveal is here!

Please note....these are raw pictures.  There has been no decorating, no prettying up of anything....this is just the bare bones of my kitchen.  But it is a blank slate and decorating will commence but I didn't want to wait for it to be all prettied up before I show you my baby!

Here we go....


This was the view of the dining room from the front door.


Andif you will note, there was a wall and a doorway that led into the kitchen.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good picture of the view from the dining room into the kitchen, but here is the after:

Here is the before view from the family room.

Here is the after view.

Can you believe it????

And the view looking from the sink back to the dining room.


I don't think these pictures can accurately describe the formation.  Taking down one little wall, moving a hallway door, moving a door to the outside and switching up some windows was all (HA!  ALL!) it took to really open up this space and give me the kitchen of my dreams.

 I've got bar stools ordered to go under the island for extra seating.  And I'm not sure if you can tell or not, but we can actually put both leaves into our dining table and it still fits into the space. It's a little tight but it fits and we would actually be able to seat people around it!

The other night, Peter was working on a project at the island, Dan and I were washing dishes and Sarah was working at the kitchen table and we all fit.  Previously only one person could work in the kitchen.  If two people were in there trying to do anything, it was very tight.  I would actually dismiss everyone so that I could clean the kitchen without tripping over them, the dishwasher and any cabinet door that might have been open.

I am working with my designer to get furniture for the family room ordered so we can actually start using that space again too.  Currently, all our old furniture is still crammed up in the bonus room but hopefully in a couple of weeks we will be able to use the entire downstairs again!  

I know my pictures don't do the new kitchen justice so here are a couple I pulled from my designer's Instagram page.  She actually staged those shelves for some photos for her website.

Happy Weekend y'all!  And if you need me, I'll be out shopping trying to find cute things to fill up my shelves!!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Still alive!

In case you all were wondering....

No, I'm not dead!  Just busy.  Very busy.

Dan finally made it home last Friday night and then we got lots of rain due to Hurricane Matthew, went out to eat a few times, went to church and other than that, stayed in the house.

The kitchen is allllllllllllllmost done.  Just a few punch list items to go and lots of trim to paint and it will be complete.  The yard is a hot mess thanks to  all the rain and Dan's inability to mow it last weekend so that will take top priority this weekend...that and the poorly neglected garden.  I'm hoping to get all the trim painted next weekend.  I told him that I felt like I had done enough painting by myself and I wanted him to help with the trim.  Fair is fair, right?

I have put the majority of my kitchen stuff into the new kitchen and have been using it for the last few nights.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly where to put everything and also how to decorate it as it is one big blank slate right now.

I'm also finding that I don't do well with big blank slates.  I guess I just need to purchase one cute thing and go from there but the pressure! 

Also the living room is still furnitureless.  But never fear, my designer is working on it and with her help, I think it will look great!  However, furniture must be ordered and it takes weeks after the order is placed so it could still be a big empty room for the next month.  Which is kind of a bummer to me because that means the upstairs is still a hot mess steps....

The kids have been up to their eyeballs in homework and special projects.  Peter has been working on a Saint Box for his kindergarten buddy and Sarah's been working on building a car for her science class.  Sarah still has a few weeks of swimming left, Peter's basketball practice gears up tonight and they both have been going to Scouts.  So business and busyness as usual for them.

Hopefully I will have pictures and more posts in the very near future.  In the meantime, I am trying to put the house back together after the kitchen reno, take the kids everywhere they need to be taken, keep the laundry clean and the people fed.  And somehow, that is taking up all of my time!

Enjoy your day and chin up - the weekend is almost here!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Saturday night rambling....

It's Saturday night and all the wild party people are writing blog posts!  (Okay, so maybe it's all the boring old people...)

I thought I would do a quick update on things that have been going on around here this past week. 

Dan left on September 20th for a business trip and STILL isn't home.  Hopefully he will be home on October 7th.  I hope!  And then I'm not sure how long he's home (2 nights, maybe 5?) until he has to leave again.  He said he's basically going to be gone until Thanksgiving. 

And remember when we started the reno and he said, "No!  We will do all the painting ourselves and save money!"  And guess who hasn't been here to do any of the painting?  Uh huh.  That's right.  My beloved husband.  But no worries, I've been painting my little hands off and just today finished the last area that needs to be painted.  Although, I still need to touch up most of the trim to freshen it up, but that will come in time.

We are in the home stretch for the kitchen reno.  The appliances are coming this week, the tile guy is coming this week to do the backspash, the electrician is going to install the lights and then it will just be a few things here and there.  I'm hoping that when Dan arrives home next Friday evening that the kitchen will be done.

And while I'm excited (VERY, VERY) all I can think about is all the work that still needs to be done.  Everything needs to be put back into the kitchen, I need to get new family room furniture, everything needs to be put back into the office and guest bedroom, the basement needs to be cleaned out, the guest bedroom furniture needs to be painting, and there are lots of little things that need to be done as well that I won't bore you with.  It's all very overwhelming if I try to think about all the work I'm going to have to do over the next few weeks to get this house back in order so I'm just not thinking about it.  Instead I'm watching a lot of Toddlers and Tiaras. 

And no, I'm not joking.  I have been watching the new season of Toddlers and Tiaras and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'm enjoying it much more than I should be.  They've reworked it a little bit and instead of seeing new bratty  kids and crazy mothers every week, they've started following teams.  Apparently just like you have a sports team, there are pageant teams out there.  A pageant team is basically a group of girls that all have the same coach and they travel to the different pageants together.  It brings a whole new level of ridiculousness to the show plus you get to see more of the contestants and their mothers so you get to know them a little better.

Last night the kids and I went out to dinner with Jennifer and her kids.  Her husband happened to be out of town too so that worked out great.  I really wanted a burger but I was a good girl and got a salad. It was yummy but it was no burger.  The only positive about Dan being gone is that I don't cook as much.  And apparently, I don't eat as much either because I've lost a few pounds since the beginning of  August when his travel really ramped up.  Only 12 more pounds to lose until I'm back to what I weighed before I got pregnant with Rebecca. 

Now it's off to find something girly to watch on TV!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Friday, September 23, 2016

It's always something!

The inside of my house is still a mess.  Although, in two weeks the kitchen at least should be in full working order.  Sorting out the rest of the chaos and dust that comes with a renovation will probably take a bit longer.  In the meantime, I decided to at least make the front porch a little more welcoming.

So I headed to Lowes yesterday before picking the kids up from school and got a few little pretties to brighten up the porch. I am still tinkering with the height and adjustment of everything but this is it for now.  And knowing me...this is how it will remain until they are all dead or until it's time to put out the Christmas decorations.  Whichever comes first.

Yesterday after leaving Lowes I headed to school.  I got there about 20 minutes before dismissal so I took my place in the middle school car rider line.  I turned the car off and proceeded to pass the time by checking Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram.  You know, the usual suspects.

Right at 3:00 the kids started pouring out of the school and I tried to crank the car up.  The lights on the dash came on but the engine would not turn over.

It was raining on my way to school and I realized that I had forgotten to turn my lights off. Although, don't you think that the battery should still be fine after only 20 minutes?  I hopped out of the car and asked the mom behind me if she had jumper cables but she did not.

Peter told the teacher on car duty what had happened and she had him go in to the school and ask the secretary to ask over the intercom if anyone in the school had jumper cables.

Meanwhile, the first mom I asked started walking up the car rider line asking other people for jumper cables.  In the meantime, my cell phone rang and one of the staff members had jumper cables and she was bringing her car around to save the day.  And another set of cables was also located just in case.

We got everything hooked up and one of the students whose dad and grandfather happen to be auto mechanics came over with her grandmother to help.

I was so very appreciative of all the helpful people!  We got the car started and I headed straight to Auto Zone.  They checked my alternator and it was fine and did not need to be replaced.  They also checked my battery and it was charged to 100% and did not need to be replaced.   However, I did purchase my very own set of jumper cables so the next time this happens I will be prepared! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Another Rebecca Story

Rebecca's been on my mind a lot lately.  Not sure why.  Maybe it's the new school year, the changing of the seasons, the fact that our house is in shambles or maybe the fact that Dan's been gone a lot.  I don't know but she's been right with me.

Whenever she crosses my mind, the first thing I do is thank God for her and her life as short as it may have been. And  I thank Him that her suffering on this earth was short because  the only peace I get from her death is knowing that she is in heaven whole and perfect.

I ask her to pray for us all the time.  My sweet little saint loves her family and what better way to show it than to pray for us when we ask her. When one of us is having a problem, I ask her to pray for us and I have no doubt that she does because when she is praying for us, the answers and the help come quickly.

I like to imagine that she's sitting at the feet of Jesus laughing and playing and then I ask her to pray for me and she immediately turns to Him and says, "Lord help my mom.  She's a hot mess and needs you right away!"  And y'all, the Lord never disappoints.

I've shared before about some answered prayers when I've lost an item and when a couple of other blog readers have lost things.  St. Anthony is a Catholic's normal go-to intercessor for lost items  However, Rebecca has been known to find a thing or two as well.  You can read about it here and here.

This morning, after a particularly long evening filled with homework, projects, and teen angst, I woke up to find this email in my inbox:

Hello Beth, My name is Faith from Kenya. last week when i was googling randomly( i do that in an attempt to find inspiring catholic blogs by moms) i came across your blog and especially to the tab about your little angel a.k.a Rebecca Irene.......i was particularly moved by the article you wrote about asking for her intercession. I am also a firm believer in the communion of saints and thus borrowed a leaf from you when you asked for her intercession to find the lost bracelet.....
I have always prayed to St. Anthony of Padua whenever i  need to find my lost items, and when i was reading your blog, i had been seeking his intercession to find something i had lost at my job. so been encouraged by your post i started asking little Rebecca for her intercession, and yesterday Beth i found the very thing i have been looking for weeks right in my purse.....i was sooo overjoyed, thanked our little intercessor and God and i knew i  had to let the mom know what her little girl is still doing even across continents.......
Thank you very much for sharing with us, for it is through your witnessing that us too get encouraged.
Once again, someone asked sweet Rebecca to pray for them (someone in Kenya no less!) and her prayers were answered!  And once again, I am comforted. 
I frequently question her life and her death so when I hear or read that someone was helped in some small way by Rebecca and this blog, I find peace.
And I like to think that maybe it's not just with lost items that have been found but maybe bigger things too.  Perhaps someone who just learned that their baby has Trisomy 18 stumbles across my blog and realizes that life is precious and purposeful no matter the length and decides to ignore the doctors who recommend termination and lets God determine the outcome.

I know when I get to heaven, all of these things will be revealed to me and I can't wait to see all that He has done through Rebecca.  
So if you have been praying about something and are still waiting on an answer, consider asking St. Rebecca Irene to pray for you.  And if you aren't Catholic and have questions about why Catholics turn to the saints for intercession, check out this article.  It explains things pretty well. 
St. Rebecca Irene, pray for us!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Parenting lessons I have learned this week.

On Monday, both kids got in the car and declared that they had "so much homework"!  As we discussed what they each had to do on they way home they both lamented that they probably wouldn't be done in time to go to Scouts. 

And sure enough, Sarah didn't finish until 7:30 and Peter didn't finish until 10:00!  But don't feel too bad for him because after a brief discussion, I learned that a large chunk of what he was working on had been assigned at the end of last week and he had ample time to complete it or at least to start it over the weekend which he chose not to do.

Peter operates under the misguided notion that if it's not due the next day then he doesn't have to work on it.  I'm well aware that his middle school teachers are trying to prepare him for the rigors of Catholic high school  and even college.  And we all know that in both high school and college you aren't going to be able to do everything the night before.

We had a nice little discussion on planning out his work and working ahead when he has free time and he agreed to do a better job and all was well.  Although, I have a feeling, this same thing is going to happen again.  But we will see.

As a middle school parent, I try to back off and let the kids do their thing but some times you need to step in and make sure they aren't blowing it.  Back in the elementary days, I used to go online and check to see what homework they had due and make sure they did it.  Now, I don't ever check because they are old enough to know what they have to do, when it's due and how to get it done. 

However, I think I need to occassionaly take a little sneak peak at his homework every now and then and try to encourage some working ahead if it looks like a lot of things are going to be due on the same day.

So, while I'm trying to be a little more helpful with Peter because he needs a little help with time management, I've got Sarah who is just the opposite.

She is so obsessed with wanting to get everything done so she can go to swim practice that she has been very intentional about knowing what she has, when it is due and what she needs to work ahead on so she can make swim practice and Girl Scouts.  (Unfortunately, Monday night was one of those perfect storm nights where several teachers assigned things that were due the next day and she wasn't able to work ahead.)  Dan and I always say that school comes first so if missing Scouts or swim practice is the result, then so be it.  But some times it makes for very sad kids.

Anway, back to Sarah. She had been very excited about a Girl Scout trip to Great Wolf Lodge last weekend.  The girls were leaving last Saturday morning and wouldn't be back until Sunday afternoon.  She had a project due on Monday morning and on Thursday afternoon she  she decided that she would spend all Friday afternoon and evening working on the project so she could enjoy her trip to Great Wolf Lodge.  She even skipped her normal Friday afternoon play date with Cheyanne (Can you still call them that in middle school???  Probably not but you get my drift.)

For her project she had to take one of her summer reading books and create a movie poster that would entice people to see the movie.  It had to be representative of a scene from the book.

The book she chose for this project was Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.  She told me what she wanted to do and then I proceeded to stick my big nose into it and tell her how I thought she should do it.  And then she got frustrated and then I tried to help her more and she got even more frustrated and then I got frustrated and we went back and forth for a bit until I realized that she just needed to try it her way and then she would see I was right and I could help her.

So I went next door to my parent's house to start working on dinner figuring that she would come over at some point and ask for my expertise/help/motherly support.


After I got out of her way, she whipped this out:

(This is before she put the title of the book on it.)  Isn't fabulous!?! And this is what she did when I got out of her way.

So from the last week of parenting, I have learned two important lessons.

Lesson number 1 learned from Peter:  You need to get involved an offer some guidance and support. 

Lesson number 2 learned from Sarah:  You need to be un-involved and offer no guidance and no support. 

No wonder I never seem to know what to do!!!!