Santa stop here

Monday, January 31, 2011

Day One is done!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have officially completed my first day on the new job, and all went well. It was a lot of sitting around and listening to people from different departments welcome us aboard and talk about patient safety, expectations, benefits, protected health information, employee health, etc.  There was a minor mixup with lunch so we had a choice of pizza or a box lunch with a sandwich, chips, fruit and a cookie (the pizza was supposed to be delivered for lunch tomorrow, but accidentally came a day early.
Although it was literally in the 70's on Saturday, now, some big storm is supposedly heading this way (remember I don't watch much news so I'm just going by reports of those around me) and bringing us snow and/or sleet. Our instructor says they follow the local school district as far as closings or late openings, but she hopes we can all make it on in.  The temperature has currently dropped from the high 50's to 48 degrees. That doesn't sound like much, but the low is supposed to be 11 degrees for tomorrow with a high of 27! That's what we here in Texas call a drastic change even though I admit it's nothing like 27 degrees below zero (but it feels like that to us Texans, especially when we were wearing shorts and flip-flops only 48 hours ago! The temperature is not so much the problem as the precipitation.  It was just pouring down rain a few minutes ago, so when the temps continue to drop the roads will be nothing but ice. *gulp!*
It's getting late, and I may just have to get up and go to work all over again tomorrow.  Naturally, the kids are hoping for a snow day...
Thanks for all of your prayers and words of encouragement as I embark on this new chapter in my life career. Until next time...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Five Question Friday-28 January 2010

Wow, this is actually my third post this week. That's exciting (well, to me anyways since I was getting so lacksadaisical [you English teachers help me out with that one, please!] about posting).  I have tons of quirky little stories and fabulous new recipes rattling around in my coconut, but I just can't seem to get them posted on this blog.  I'll try harder.  Anyway...let's get on with Five Question Friday, a blog hop hosted by Mama M at My Little Life.  This is a fun way to learn more about your blog buds as well as hop around and explore some new blogs you might have overlooked before.  Stop by My Little Life for the official rules and original questions and join the excitement. Here goes...

1. If you had $1,000 to donate to a charity, which would you choose?
Probably Heifer International since it's roughly based on the philosophy that "if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime."
2. Snow days: Do you welcome them happily or are they a pain in your butt?
Deep in the heart of Texas here we don't get many snow days, so we happily welcome them when we do get them. It's never more than a day or two, and they don't become a "pain in the butt" until we have to tack on extra days at the end of the school year or go to school on a Saturday or whatever to make them up.

3. What talent did you wish you had and why?
I'd love to be able to sew; then I could truly be that much closer to becoming the Proverbs 31 woman. I've always been impressed with people who can look at an outfit and recreate it with or without a pattern.  I was in 4-H as a kid and took home ec in high school, but to this day "make it in one day" patterns still take me a month to complete-LOL!
4. Are you a news, politics or celebrity gossip junkie?
No, no and no. Sometimes I think it would behoove me to pay a little more attention to the news so that I'm not caught totally off guard when someone mentions what's going on in Korea or what a shame about the Arizona victims.  I rarely turn on the TV on my own volition. The hubs just called from work to report that there is a bomb threat at the Cowboys' Stadium where the Super Bowl is supposed to take place next weekend.  That's not good, but I never would've known had he not called. Because it's about 15 minutes from  my house, I suppose I should tune in to the news and see what's happening.  Anybody heading to my neck of the woods for the Big Game?

5. What is your favorite "cocktail"? (Are you a beer person, a kiddie cocktail junkie, or perhaps your more the "Cosmo" kind?! Anything flies...doesn't hafta be alcoholic!)
Wow, ummm...hmmmm I'd have to think long and hard about that. I can say I am NOT a beer person at all, but I do like the sweet and fruity stuff: a combination of pineapple juice, cranberry juice & Vodka works for me! I've never been too big on traditional martinis or bloody marys & such.

Well, that was fun and now I'm done! Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend. Until next time...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken in Red Wine

Well, it's been a while since I've joined Mama Hen for Thanksgiving Thursday, so I think I'll list a few things before I proceed with posting my recipe for Chicken and Red Wine that I tried earlier this week...

I am thankful for checks and know the system that allows you to eat breakfast twice because you exercised in between.  Today, I went to drop off my dad's truck. I threw my bike in the back so I could ride it home and not have to disturb anyone.  With each push of the pedal, I was thinking of the biscuit with homemade strawberry preserves I was going to enjoy when I got home (I'd already had a plain one when I first took them out of the oven, but that was hours before).  En route I decided to stop by my sister-in-law's house for a brief visit. She and her husband were just sitting down to coffee and breakfast burritos, and she insisted that I share hers. I tried to decline (I was still thinking of the biscuit, you see) but was unsuccessful.  The burrito was tasty as were the coffee and orange juice.  See what I mean about 2 breakfasts?  Yesterday, since I had to walk to the mechanic's shop to pick up my car, I figured it was time I treated myself to some Jack in the Box tacos and an eggnog shake (I got it all for $1.07 because I had a coupon for a free shake with any purchase...can't beat 2/$.99 tacos!).   I guess another title for this particular phenomenon could be expressing gratitude for the gift of rationalization *smile*.

I am thankful for checks that increase balances...Just when we were wondering how we were going to pay our regular bills plus car repairs (Mike just had engine work done and my brake pads had to be replaced) after barely surviving Christmas, we received an unexpected check in the mail.  Isn't God always right on time.  We still have a couple of outstanding bills and a couple more that we'll have to pay a late fee on, but these should be the last of their kind!

I am thankful the start date for my job is finally here!  Monday is the big day at long last.  Yes, Carol, it does seem like we've been waiting for this day to come forever.

I am thankful for my family and friends (including all of you who are reading this) for all of their support.

I am thankful for where I can go and find all sorts of fun recipes.  I once saw a bumper sticker that said, "If you are what you eat, then I'm fast, cheap and easy." I love to cook but don't always have the time or resources to get really fancy.  This website has recipes for all different experience levels, degrees of  complexity, and varieties of cuisine.  Plus, you get to read tips others who have tried the recipes came up with before you try the recipe.  And, speaking of recipes...

Here's my recipe for Chicken in Red Wine Sauce (click on the title to see the original recipe from and the member reviews)

1 T. olive oil
1 T. minced garlic
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to about 1/2 inch thickness
1/2 T. paprika
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup red wine*
1/2 t. cornstarch (optional)
green onion, sliced (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook garlic in oil until tender (fragrant and lightly browned). Place chicken in skillet and cook about 5 minutes on each side until no longer pink and juices run clear.
Drain oil from skillet (I had liquid but not oil. I drained it into a measuring cup but never ended up using it).  Return chicken to pan.  Season chicken with paprika, salt and pepper and sprinkle brown sugar on top.  Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the wine around the chicken.  Cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes, lightly basting with wine sauce while cooking. Mix the 1/2 t. cornstarch with the 1 T. wine and add to the sauce to thicken if necessary.  Serve over hot cooked pasta with green onion garnish if desired and a tossed salad on the side.

*I used Cabernet Sauvignon and it worked quite well.

My review: This recipe made a nice glaze on the chicken, but there wasn't much sauce to actually spoon over the pasta. Next time I will use 1 cup of brown sugar and 2 cups of red wine and maybe bump up the cornstarch to 1 teaspoon for thickening.

Bon apetit!  Until next time...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What a Wednesday!

The tune "just another manic Monday" is rolling around in my head...the only thing is it's Wednesday, not Monday.  Although everything went quite smoothly, it was just one of those days when there's never a dull moment.  I'm currently at my mom's house staying with my grandmother while the folks are at Bible Study. The upside is she has already turned in for the night, and I have no dishes to wash or laundry to fold so I have a little time to hop on my blog! Woo hoo!
I have been cooking like is so much easier when you just take the time to sit down and plan out your menu.  My goal is to have a few weeks of meal plans all lined up (or at least have some meals that are simple to throw together) before I start work next week.  I really wanted to post a new recipe for Chicken in Red Wine Sauce I tried on Monday for "Tasty Tuesday"...I took a picture and everything, but I realized today is Wednesday.  Where in the heck did Tuesday go?  Oh yeah, I remember.  Mike and I spent the entire morning washing dishes and putting them away.  Then, we had to deliver my car to the mechanic for brake work and run some errands (this is what always happens when Mike is off days disappear!)
Today was just as much of a whirlwind.  I had to borrow my dad's old truck to shuttle kids back and forth to school while my car is out of commission.  Then I had an appointment to get my hair ears are cold as I type, but whew what a relief that was to finally get it cut! I stopped by the grocery store to see if they had the ground turkey breast that was in last week's ad (so I could use my raincheck while I was thinking about it) to no avail. I then received a call from the mechanic who said my car was ready. Mom was at Bible Study Fellowship and Dad was home with my grandmother, so I had no one to take me to pick up my car.  Instead, I drove the truck home, grabbed my fannypack and walked to the mechanic's shop  (just under 2 miles) to pick up my mom-mobile. I returned home, showered (to rid myself of the hair clippings), grabbed a bite to eat, brushed my teeth and headed to the dentist.
Once done there, I accompanied  my cousin to an appointment for which he needed a family member present.  Once I left the doctor's office, I had 30 minutes before it was time to pick up Alisa from school (she stayed after for percussion lessons), so I stopped by Big Lots! to see if there was anything I absolutely couldn't live without.  Actually, I was told that was a good place to buy lawn & leaf bags.  I spent $2.40 on two loaves of bread and went to pick up Alisa.
By the time I made it home to start dinner, I called to see if I needed to watch Grandmom while the parents went to Bible Study, and now I've come full circle.  I've been home long enough to try the chicken pot pie I made for dinner and tuck my younguns in the bed.  The sound of my husband's snoring is making me sleepy, but alas, I'm supposed to be online in search of a quick and simple muffin recipe for Teacher Snack Day tomorrow *Yawn!* I forgot they bumped it up to tomorrow because Friday is a big field trip and lots of the teachers and students will be off campus.  If I find a good recipe, I promise I'll post it tomorrow!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Five Question Friday-21 January 2011

Okay, I'm thinking this is pretty sad.  The only time I ever blog these days is for 5QF. Maybe I'm trying subconsciously to wean myself from the blogosphere so I won't be tempted to log on and blog while I'm on the clock.  (Like those nurses I witnessed so engrossed in their facebook pages that they didn't realize their patients were calling for them). It's like a proactive diminished activity type thing...kind of like women with cancer who shave their heads before their hair falls out from treatments. I'm just babbling, really. I am anxious to find out what my schedule will look like once I begin working.  All I know is three 12-hour shifts per week.  That should leave time to blog at some point, wouldn't you think?
Anyway...if you need the original questions or would like to link up and check out others who are participating with Five Question Friday, hop on over to Mama M's My Little Life for all of the details.  Meanwhile, here are my answers to this weeks' questions...

1. Where did you meet your spouse and did you instantly know it was love?

I met my husband at a New Year's Eve party hosted by mutual friends, John & Chermain.  Actually, he was introduced to my parents while I was out of the country in the Peace Corps, so it was kind of an arranged marriage type deal.  Just kidding!  Mike really did meet my parents before I ever met him, though. The New Year's Eve party was a big sleepover. Most everyone there were newlyweds.  We played typical party games like Pictionary, watched the apple drop in NYC, drank champagne into the wee hours of the morning when everyone crashed.  I remember the next morning, Mike went outside to warm my car and scrape the snow/ice off of my windshield.  I thought that was the sweetest gesture!  Months later, when I finished my Peace Corps service and returned stateside for good, my aforementioned "mutual friend" John kept asking me what I thought of Mike, had I spoken to him, gone out with him, etc...I kept telling him Mike was TOO OLD for me (mainly because he had bunions and walked like a weeble-wobble until he had a bunionectomy, but that's another story for another day).  Well, eventually, as I settled back in to life in North America I needed a car and guess whose brother just happened to work for a dealership?  Mike and I test drove cars all over the metroplex.  Eventually, we had lunch after a morning of test driving cars.  Then, we'd catch a show later in the evening. We drove to Houston to visit a friend of mine and the subject of marriage came up.  The next thing I knew I was invited on a cruise with the New Year's Eve crowd and Mike and I bought wedding bands in St. Thomas.  A year and a few months later we were married. It was not love at first sight but rather a gradual onslaught of love and affection that has grown stronger over the years.

2. What is your favorite room in your house?

If "favorite" room is defined as where I spend the most time then the kitchen is my favorite room.  If it's defined as where I'm most comfortable, then I'd have to say my bedroom.  If it's defined as the place where I do what I like best, then I'd have to say my craft room.  However, my craft room is a work in progress and not quite functional or set up to my liking just yet, so that's why I avoid it rather than spend precious moments there...for now.

3. Can you wiggle your ears?

I can shift my scalp which gives the appearance of wiggling ones ears.  Does that count?

4. What is your evening ritual?

Wash dishes til my fingers are all wrinkled and "shine my sink." Go over daughter's homework.  Log on to computer to check e-mail and see what's up in the blogosphere.  Stumble into dark bedroom trying not to wake the snoring hubs, wash my face, brush my teeth, shower (if that's one of the things on my to-do list that I didn't get around to earlier in the day), Crawl in bed and snuggle up against the snoring bed warmer with my cold legs pressed to the back of his. Asleep before my head hits the pillow good. How boring was THAT? I should have at least fibbed a little and thrown in a glass of wine or hot tea while I'm on the computer or chat with my girlfriend or something!

5. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?

I can "function" on relatively little sleep, like 3 to 4 hours in some cases, for brief periods of time.  However, it catches up with me after a while.  I function best on 6-7 hours of sleep per night (and a nap in the afternoon IF I can swing it!).
That was fun and now I'm done.  Happy Friday to you all. Have a great weekend...until next time!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Five Question Friday-14 January 2011

I'm trying to get ahead of the game so I can post this on Friday and get linked up with everyone else for a change. I hope you all had a warm and wonderful week. It's been c-c-c-o-l-d around here.  Remember, folks, I'm a native Texan so don't laugh when I say low 30's with a wind chill factor in the 20's is nearly unbearable. I just finished reading Sixty One by Lee Child, and the main character Jack Reacher was in North Dakota.  I shivered the entire time I read the book as he described the snow and temperatures in the teens below zero! Let me get back to 5QF...if you want to join the fun, swing by Mama M's My Little Life to get the original questions and link your blog to the hop. Now, let's have some fun...
1. What movie could you watch over and over again and not get tired of?

Call me crazy (or shallow or warped), but I absolutely love Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and I admit I have watched it over and over. I even play the soundtrack from time to time.

2. What's your biggest pet peeve right now?

Gosh, I have so many and they seem to be multiplying exponentially as I get older. I guess one of the main ones right now is people talking loudly on cell phones in public places, especially check out lanes at the grocery store.

3. If you had to describe your best friend in five words or less, what would you say?

Sweet, sassy, creative, gorgeous and crazy-sense-of-humor

4. If you did not have to worry about money or go to school what would you do for a living?

Oh, I never know how to answer this question because throughout the course of my life I've contemplated so many different things.  Today, I think I'll say I'd be a massage therapist. I truly believe there is healing power in touch.  I know how great I feel after getting a massage and would love to make other people feel that way, too.

5. What is your one "splurge" item, that you will always buy, no matter the cost?

I never knew there were items people buy no matter the cost until...One day, a friend of mine mentioned buying grapes in the middle of the winter because that was one fruit her husband and/or kids would eat.  Thinking I'd eat grapes in the winter, too, IF they were on sale (which they normally are not), I asked how much she paid for them (I must have overlooked them in my sales ads, right?).  Her response: "I don't even know how much they cost.  I just buy them because that's what they eat." My jaw dropped. That meant she was probably paying almost $3.00 per pound. I eat grapes when they are 99 cents per pound in the summertime, thank you very much!  Anyway, all of that is to say, I don't think I have any specific splurge items unless you count gasoline for the car which just jumped from $2.83 per gallon to $2.99 per gallon overnight. I have to buy it anyway...or walk in the cold which I just can't seem convince myself is a better idea!
Well, that was fun and now I'm done.  Until next time...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crockpot Enchiladas

Lately, I have been all-consumed with  I signed up for their daily dish e-mails and I love how simple and tasty a lot of the recipes are.  Plus you get to read reviews about how others "tweaked" the recipe to improve it.  I'm making a concerted effort to plan meals at least a week in advance and doing a little "freezer cooking" where you make double a recipe and freeze half to enjoy later.  The hope is that once I start working (in 2 1/2 weeks!) I will not be coming home to fast food wrappers strewn about the house on a regular basis.  You know the saying, while the cat's away the mice will play, right?  Anyway, I'm almost certain I've mentioned my weekly menu-planning theme, but just in case you are new or you missed it, here goes again:
Soul Food Sunday (Roast, chops, meat loaf, etc. with all of the trimmings), Mama Mia Monday (Italian cuisine), Tex-Mex Tuesday (beans, rice, tacos, enchiladas, burritos), One-dish Wednesday (stir-fry, casseroles, quiche, pot-pies), Thrifty Thursday (leftovers [if there are any] or something simple like breakfast for dinner), Finger Food Friday (hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza), Soup/Sandwich/Salad Saturday.
Last week I discovered a recipe for Crock Pot Enchiladas and thought it would be perfect to add to our Tex-Mex Tuesday rotation. I made a few modifications from the original recipe, and my family quickly agreed the recipe was a keeper. So, I wanted to share it with you all, too, in case you're looking for something quick and easy to make with ingredients you probably have right in your house as we speak type read chat!

1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 packet taco seasoning (or visit (June 14, 2010) and make your own
3/4 cup water
10 6-inch corn tortillas, quartered
12-oz jar picante sauce or thick & chunky salsa
1 10.5-oz can cream of mushroom soup (I used reduced fat)
3 cups four-blend Mexican cheese, divided use

Brown your ground beef/turkey and drain any excess fat.  Add taco seasoning and water and simmer according to package directions (about 15 minutes).  Meanwhile, cut tortillas into quarters and set aside (cover to prevent drying). In a medium bowl, combine picante sauce, undiluted cream soup and 2 cups of the cheese; mix well. Layer 1/3 of the tortillas, half of the seasoned ground meat and half of the salsa mix; Repeat layers and top with last 1/3 of the tortillas.  Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on top of tortillas.  Cover and heat on high for one to one and a half hours.  Serve with Mexican rice and salad (I tossed together romaine lettuce, tomato, whole kernel corn (drained & patted dry), sliced black olives and green onion). Buen provecho!

*This recipe lends itself to modifcations to suit your own taste.  You can use whatever cream soup you like and more or less cheese to suit your taste. Next time, I may try chicken breasts, green salsa and cream of chicken soup with whole wheat tortillas and see what happens.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Five Question Friday (Monday edition)

Last Friday I logged on to Mama M's "My Little Life" to get a sneak peak and realized it was already Friday and not Thursday! Shame on me.  I answered the questions on her blog and decided to post the answers here as well.  It  has taken me until now to get around to "editing" this post.  One of my greatest fears about going to work full time outside the home is I'll NEVER get back to my blogging! boo-hoo-hoo.  I'll just have to try hard to squeeze in a post or two on my days off.  Anyway, back to the whole 5QF deal...

1. What is your current favorite book, and why?

I love all of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta novels. Just finished Port Mortuary. Scarpetta is a medical examiner and Cornwell's detail to medical attention (not to mention all of the wonderful Italian food she describes in detail) fascinates me and keeps me coming back for more.

2. Do you go to the dentist regularly?

I do go to the dentist every 6 months like clockwork. I don't know what I'll do when my dentist retires, but I'm sure I'll have to think of something soon since I've gone to Dr. Bridgwater for over 30 years!
3. What is your worst memory from High School?

Worst high school memory involved flubbing my illustrated talk on child car seat safety at the Future Homemakers of America conference (talk about uber-geek!) The only thing I really remember about it is I got really nervous when I tried to quote some statistic about the number of infants and children who are injured in automobile accidents annually.  I started spouting out a number and couldn't stop myself.  It went something like this: "652 million thousand kazillion hundred billion children are injured every year..." Hopefully it was at that point that I glanced down at my trusty 3x5 notecard and quoted the correct number. My public speaking skills are much improved, thank you very much!
4. What do you hope to be remembered for in your life?

I want to be remembered as a compassionate person (mom, wife, daughter, friend, nurse, etc.). I truly believe the words of the hymn "If I can help somebody as I pass along...then my living will not be in vain."  I tried looking it up on YouTube but didn't quite know how to post the link or add it to a "playlist" so I hope you know what song I'm talking about.
5. Are you superstitious or do you have any superstitions?

Finally, I stopped at the grocery store for a couple of items. My total was $6.66 and I almost flippped out and grabbed a pack of gum I didn't want just to change the total, so I guess I am a little superstitious LOL!  I have been known to knock on wood to avoid jinxing myself in certain situations.  All in all, I don't really consider myself to be superstitious though.
That was fun and now I'm done.  Have a blessed night blog buddies and I'll try and get back soon or stop by your blog for a visit. Until then...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy 2011!

Howdy and Happy New Year from deep in the heart of Texas.  And a very Happy Birthday to my niece, Keidra about whom I've been thinking all day but I forgot to call nonetheless!  I know I've been MIA for a little while (it's only been since just before Christmas, but seems like forever)...thanks for all of you who've left warm wishes and comments on my "old" posts.  I still log on and check for comments even if I'm not so busy with new posts.  Right now I'm supposed to be reviewing my daughter's math homework and finishing the dishes so that I can get my buns in bed by 11:30, but I don't think I'm going to make that deadline.
Tomorrow is my "post-hire assessment" for my new job which will begin on the 31st of this month.  I'm excited and anxious and rrying desperately to get a few more things in order (like my entire house and life-LOL) before I'm a once again a working woman.  I take comfort in knowing that my life was much more "structured" shall we say when I worked full time outside of the home simply because it HAD to be.  Of course, I only had one little child at the time and a grandmother who helped care for him when the Hubs and I couldn't.  Boy have things changed.
I'm still working on getting organized.  I have to renew my zeal for the Fly Lady and get back into her routine and make it my own.  I treated myself to a couple of her products for Christmas and have yet to break them out and put them to use.
Here's hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday and your year is off to a splendiferous start with pleny of new and exciting opportunities (and recipes) before you. Until next time...