Saturday, February 28, 2009
Adam wore 24 month clothes today. They fit pretty good. I'm not sure if we are completely putting away 18 month clothes yet, but we are close. Adam is also getting VERY good at climbing, the little hoodlum! He can get on the couch sometimes, his toddler bed (which we aren't using yet, of course, but is in his room as we got a great deal on it) always, and can also get on the end table in the living room! That one surprised Ray today!
It was really warm here, then got cold and warmed up again today - we are all over the map for weather! Mom said they were gettings lots of snow in AK. I wouldn't mind some more of that really, either, although I guess spring is on the way - the spiders and skunks are back out! I saw THREE spiders in my kitchen today. I informed Olga of her duty....
I also read Whispers of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark. This was her second stand online book, and while better than the first stand alone, I still think there is room for improvement. Not that I didn't enjoy the book (I did), but I think that she has some continuing changes to make in her evolution from series to novels. I honestly like series better, so I think she should just go back.:)
Friday, February 27, 2009
I read the next two books from the Lulu's cafe series - the pastor's wives ones. I really enjoyed both of them, although I would have liked to get to know their husbands a bit better. At the end of the third book, it turns out they all know the wives have been meeting (which makes sense) and they have actually met a few times - I would have liked to hear about that! Maybe a future book...I don't know if they plan to continue this or not.
I finally finished the new installment (well, new several months ago) in the Crewel World series, Thai Die by Monica Ferris. I have really enjoyed this series, but I wasn't too impressed with this one. First of all, there was very little shop time, we didn't see many of our regular characters (we barely even saw Goddy), and little needlework. I also thought the plot (a super rare Chinese silk stolen and ending up in Minnesota?) was pretty far fetched. I also have really been missing Jill Cross Larson, who was really integral in the first few, in these later installments. This has such great potential - I hope it can rebound! The fact I put the book down in the middle and didn't finish it for a month says something, I think!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Now, back to grading Dante papers. Reading about Hell should motivate me, right? But seriously, so far the papers are good!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I also have a class ending this week and one next week, so that will keep me hopping. Ah, the life of a teacher....
Saturday, February 21, 2009
This actually turned out really well, but we have to admit, we just don't like pesto. This was my last ditch effort as I had all the fresh basil. Seriously it looked perfect, was easy to make....but we just don't like pesto! But since it is a great recipe, I decided to post it here for anyone who does like pesto.
1 pound whole-wheat penne pasta [this has a lot of fiber and actually tasted pretty good]
1 package frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 cup packed basil leaves [from my aero-garden!]
6 to 8 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves stripped [I didn't have fresh tarragon so I used parsley and thyme.]
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, a couple of handfuls, plus extra to top with
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil [you are looking for a consistency, not a specific amount]
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water up to a boil then season water with salt and cook penne to al dente. Heads up: you will need to reserve 1 or 2 ladles of starchy cooking water, 1/2 to 3/4 cup, before draining the pasta.
Place 1/2 of the peas in the bottom of a large serving dish. Place the rest of the peas in a food processor with the pine nuts, basil, tarragon leaves, lemon zest, cheese and olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper then process the pesto into rough paste, adjust seasonings.
Pour starchy water over peas in bowl then add pesto. Pour hot, drained pasta over the pesto and toss vigorously to coat and combine. Adjust seasoning and serve, passing extra cheese at the table.
Friday, February 20, 2009
We are off to visit Dave for the weekend, which will be good for all us. After last weekend, Ray needs some time away from here. We haven't seen Dave since we got back in January either because he was sick for Adam's birthday and everything has been crazy around here (and for him).
We got some snow yesterday, but not a lot. Ray says the weather won't be that good over the weekend. We are going to David Drinkhouse's Michigan memorial on Sunday, on our way home from Dave's (it on our way).
I've read some great books lately and will post on those soon! So that's about it from here.
The world has lost Manx in the Isle of Man, Ubykh in Turkey and last year Alaska's last native speaker of Eyak, Marie Smith Jones, died, taking the aboriginal language with her.
Of the 6,900 languages spoken in the world, some 2,500 are endangered, the UN's cultural agency UNESCO said Thursday as it released its latest atlas of world languages.
That represents a multi-fold increase from the last atlas compiled in 2001 which listed 900 languages threatened with extinction.
With globalization continuing, we see the push to know the "big" languages and the little ones get pushed aside. I would bet that regional variations are also dying as we stress inter-connectedness. Not that it isn't great that everyone can communicate easily with each other, but we will lose all these great variations.
This is delicious and so easy! It has a nice tang to it and is a nice change from a regular roast! We had this on Saturday when Michelle and her son were over for dinner. It was winner all around!
Modified from Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious
***needs a crock pot***
1 beef brisket (not corned beef) (4 lbs) [I actually used a regular roast here and it was fine.]
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (12 oz) beer
1 cup chopped green pepper
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
Cut brisket into thirds, put in a large crock pot. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; pour over the beef. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat is tender.
Thinly slice across the grain. You can thicken the pan juices if you desire.
Makes 10 servings.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Adam and I are off to go grocery shopping this week. I have a couple new recipes to try - I have all those fresh herbs, so I've picked recipes that will use them! I'm really excited! I also have to go to Target for a few cleaning supplies. Last weekend I made a huge score for Ray - white t-shirts, new mesh shorts (which I have a tough time finding) and brown socks! All but the socks were on sale and things he REALLY needed. I also got his Valentine's Day card. Ray will be working on V-Day (that FIRC), but I still wanted to get him a card. We don't usually do much anyway, although Ray propsed on the 13th - he was going to do it on Valentine's Day, but it was the middle of the week and I was busy (if you haven't heard the story, you'll have to ask...its Ray's favorite story!).
We had a huge storm last night and part of our fence came down! I'll put up a picture late. It was rain - we've really warmed up here. I actually have the door open with the screen door locked so Adam can look out, which he LOVES and has missed over the cold months. So have to take advantage of this break.
Well, its about Adam's food and nap time, so I'd better get going for now.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Adam is doing pretty good - hopefully we'll be bottle and binky less within the month! My big problem is that he doesn't like to stop so it is hard to get him to drink his sippy cup. One sip and he's gone. So today I made him stay in the high chair, with just the sippy cup, until he drank a good portion of it. He did NOT like it, but he did drink about half of it, so I think we'll continue that. Pretty much, he's not allowed to leave the table until he finishes his food! He's also SO close to really talking. He loves to yak, but currently very little is actually understandable. I'm sure he THINKS he's telling us stuff! He did dump an entire cup of milk on the floor today (the lid came off when it hit) - that did motivate me to mop the floor when he napped, which I've been putting off for a week.
SNHU's term 4 is getting close, so I have to get my shell updated tonight (what fun). We are in week 6 (of 8) of Term 3, so I have to get motivated. Its all there, I just have to change dates/check links. Not really exciting, but necessary. My math class at LRSC is taking a test this week, which is a nice break for all of us. That class has been really active with questions, which is AWESOME, but definitely keeps me hopping. My history class there has a paper this week (The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which I seriously HATE, but is a good book for the class, which is modern US history). My SNHU class is reading Martin Guerre this week, which I LOVE, so that's a nice contrast.
Ray is going to have a very long weekend, with the FIRC, but Adam and I are going to Hayes Center with my friend, Michelle - that will be tons of fun! The following weekend we are going to Michigan to visit Dave (who actually had a date last weekend, but then felt really guilty...that will take awhile, but it is good for him just to get out) and then we are going to David Drinkhouse's Michigan memorial on the way home (in Ida, MI) so we'll get to see Andrea and her family.
I think that is our life in a nutshell. I did finally order myself (and Adam and Ray) LRSC t-shirts - I'm excited!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I finished the next book in the Sister, Ink series yesterday, Scrapping Plans. I really like this series and this one was good, but I didn't like how they did Joy's (the main sister for this book) chapters. It just read funny to me. The one complaint I have for this series is that we barely know their husbands. Like in this book, Joy's husband, Scott, just doesn't get enough time. I mean I know it is about the sisters, but I would like more on the men. I think it would flesh out the entire story better. The guys should all be friends of some kind and that needs to be explored.
It is REALLY warm here - everything is melting. Not sure if this will last though. Well, I'm off to bed.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Adam had a pancake last night - he thought that was pretty cool! I made a new recipe tonight (see below). Other than that, today was pretty low key, which was good - we all needed that. Next weekend is going to be a zoo around here, so a quiet day was good.
This was tonight's dinner - turned out pretty well. It is a cream based sauce, but even Ray liked it and he doesn't usually like cream sauces. I thought it was a little too peppery. The chicken was so TENDER though!
Saucy Chicken with Veggies and Rice
Modified from Simple & Delicious
3 cups celery, diced
3 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups onions, diced
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (5 oz each)
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup white white or chicken broth [I used broth]
hot cooked rice
Place celery, carrots, onion and chicken into a 5 quart crock pot. In a small bowl, mix soup, soup mix, thyme, pepper, and tarragon. Pour over the veggies and chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours (chicken has to be 170).
Mix cornstarch and broth until smooth, stir into crock pot [I use bullion and so have to boil the water, so I put some cold water with the cornstarch first as you can't mix hot liquids and cornstarch straight.]. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until the gravy is thickened. Serve with rice.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
Oh, congrats to Allen and Christine on their new baby boy - Andrew!
Modified from Southern Living
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (10-ounce) container refrigerated Alfredo sauce [I used jarred Ragu and just used part of it - I ate the rest on some pasta - much cheaper!]
1 (8 oz) pkg of mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry [and I actually used this - I think you can taste the difference, but this stuff tastes nasty normally - I tried an experimental sip -YICK]
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
7 ounces spaghetti, cooked [they used vermicelli]
Saute mushroms in butter. Stir together chicken, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, cooked mushrooms and all but pasta. Then stir in cooked pasta. Spoon mixture into an 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Southern Living also had about 5 variations of this recipe. I actually used part of one (the fresh mushrooms versus canned), but I like the peas one for later as well as the carmelized onions. Ray could put up with this (good for a cream dish) and I really liked it. I also froze some, as it is supposed to freeze well - I'll let you know if it did later!
This is really good!
Chocolate Chai Loaf (mini loaves)
Modified from Taste of Home
2 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate, chopped [I often use chocolate chips in a place like this, but since it was only 2 oz, I used the regular - easier to measure.]
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp chai tea latte mix [I used my own, so chai mix without any tea.]
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
Frosting [I made this to try, but I like it better without and won't use this again...also I feel a little better about eating it if I skip this!]
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp chai latte mix (again, mine)
1/2 tsp vanilla
4-5 tsp milk
Melt chocolate with water in the microwave, stirring periodically, until smooth. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well each time. Beat in vanilla, then add in chocolate.
Combine flour, chai tea mix, baking soda nad salt. Add to creamed mixture alternatively with sour cream.
They used three mini loaf pans, I used one regular sized one. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes (in larger pan, it took me 50 minutes) or until it passes the toothpick test. Cool for 10 minutes before de-panning to cool.
For frosting, combine, the sugar, butter, chai tea, vanilla and enough milk to get the right consistency.
Modified from Robin Miller
2 (9 inch) refrigerated pie crusts
2 cups cooked shredded beef (I use leftover French Dip meat, which I always have a TON of)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup onions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Queso, optional (for dipping)
Preheat oven to 425. Sauté garlic, onions and green pepper in oil. Unroll pie crust. On each quadrant, put 1/2 cup of beef, 1/4 cup of cheese and about 2 tbsp of the onion mixture. Top with second pie crust. Cut into four equal sections. Pinch the edges with a fork to seal. Slit a hole in top.
Put on a baking sheet and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with queso, if desired.
I also found Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia series. The first one is Silent in the Grave. I have also read Silent in the Sanctuary. The second one is better, I think. This is a historical mystery series (Victorian) and I tend to go back and forth on these. This is pretty well done, some of the family dynamics are over the top. First, I like them to be someone who could have really lived in this time period and here we go back and forth. Sometimes I think she's doing well, other things I question. One of Lady Julia's sisters is gay - not that it didn't happen, but this can be a bit overdone at times. We'll see how Book 3 goes before I make any final judgements.
I also just read Bookmarked for Death, the second in the Booktown series I found awhile ago. This one did a good job of a follow up and I thought I had it figured out (as did the sleuth), but we were both wrong! A nice twist at the ending!