Monday, November 30, 2009

Are stores more incompetent or am I more easily annoyed?

I'm actually leaning towards b (although I have a feeling that right now, being the holiday season, a factors in a bit). I think the issue is that by the time I get to check out (which is usually where the problem crops up), I have a cranky toddler in tow. Adam is fine when we are moving and looking, but lines annoy him (he gets bored and there is only so long I can keep him occupied in line before he's just done). Like today I managed to keep him pretty busy with the wrapping paper we were buying, but eventually he was bored.

I've noticed though that I am much more likely to write a complaint when I get home than I used to me. I've always been the one to complain if my receipt is wrong, but as long as they fixed it, that is usually it, but anymore long lines, incompetent help, etc., annoy me much more. I think it is simply that those factors mean Adam gets upset and thus makes me upset, meaning little things bug me more. Like today (I just wrote two online complaints, which is what started this), we had a couple of errands to run. Giant Eagle (our grocery store) has double fuel perks on gifts cards, so I wanted to get my holiday cards now. So in Adam and I went and I was confused on whether their own gift cards counted, as I'd never gotten one before. So I asked my clerk, who then asked someone else (I don't fault her - she did what she should have - asked when she didn't know), who said yes, they did count. So I bought it, but didn't get the fuel perks. So I had to go customer service, who then tells me no, they don't count! AGHHH!!! And they were not willing to refund the gift card or even interested in finding out who gave out the wrong information. I was not pleased!

Then off to the post office, which from the parking lot, I could tell was busy. So we go inside to wait in line (which Adam hated, as usual), and it turns out they only have ONE clerk on duty - at lunchtime, on a Monday, during holiday season. Seriously? If a store is obviously working to fix a problem like a line, I can still let it go without a problem (so if they were fully staffed or someone else was helping in some way), but again, they weren't even trying!

Am I wrong to want competent help and stores that are prepared for normal busy times?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas shopping Update

I'm done with Adam's shopping for both Christmas and his birthday! I finished today! I'm so excited as the toy sections this time of year drive me batty, so I wanted to over quick (and actually we bought most of our stuff at at bookstores, which are much better). I also did most of Grandma and Mom's so they wouldn't have to ship. But I'm done! I still have to do some other shopping, but I'm done with kids stuff, which is always the worst to deal with.

Charity Calls

I think to think we do good on the generosity issue. We really try to make sure we give back in whatever way we can (time, talent or treasure). But I'm so sick of charity phone calls. The phone has been ringing, seriously, about 5 times a day and at all times of the day. And they don't get the hint when you a) hang up on them, b) don't answer or even c) tell them no. [We've also tried d) hand the phone to Adam and I'm currently considering e) refuse to speak anything but Russian.] Today some poor guy from COPS for Kids got the brute of my anger. I'm not really angry at them particularly (we'd usually give them money as they are local), but he called a) when Adam was napping [which woke him up] and then b) called right back after I hung up him confused - what was confusing about getting hung up on? [Ray's already yelled one out this year who did the same thing - called at naptime and woke Adam up] So I'm not giving to any phone charity for the rest of the season. I already won't give to groups that use paid solicitors (if you can pay someone to call me, you are proving a) that you don't use money well (as any charity worth their salt should have volunteers that could do this) and b) you don't really need my money) on general purposes, but right now I'm on a total ban just because they call so continuously. I really wish they'd all get together and dole out the calendar so that everyone doesn't call at once! Then I might not be so annoying to them at this time of year. But enough is enough! We'll do our local, in person, stuff (food drives, Toys for Tots), but I'm absolutely refusing any charity that calls me on the phone.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Presents

Remember I said Adam was getting a Thomas the Train starter set from his grandparents Stannard and Great grandparents Cottle? Well, I got drafted to do the actual shopping (no shipping then) and Barnes and Noble didn't have the big set we wanted, but all their Thomas stuff was 30% off plus your membership discount (another 10%), so we created our own! He is going to love this! Ray is building him a table for it, from us, and I'm doing some looking online - I think I can find an airplane set for it!
We went on to Borders and Melissa and Doug stuff was buy one, get one 50% off. Melissa and Doug toys/games, if you haven't seen them, are AWESOME!! So we got Adam two (one for Christmas, one for his birthday in January) from us. He's going to love figuring out those latches!

I also found some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (which Adam ADORES), on the B&N bargain rack, so I was happy there as well.
I'm only reporting on Adam shopping since he can't read yet! I'm keeping silent on the rest in case someone wanders over here! But suffice it say, I got a couple other deals as well!

Productive Day

We got up this morning and did some Christmas shopping. We actually got some really good deals, so that was good and by waiting until today, it wasn't bad. Ray then went off to game and Adam and I went home. Adam didn't make it home awake, which meant naptime was a pain in the butt. We ran around outside first and he did eventually take a nap for a bit.

I have my gifts in a jar about 90% complete. I still need to print off my labels (my printer broke tonight!) and then attach them, but the goods are all in the jars. Adam and I did part of it and then I finished (with a little Ray help) after he went to bed.

Currently I'm scanning in midterms so I can mail them back to students. I usually have Ray do this at work now (this is a tedious process but I definitely don't trust the postal service not to lose a test!), but this is a really small class, so it is faster just to do it myself. This way I can get them out on Monday for the students.

I feel like I made a dent in the Christmas shopping today. My next project is write my Christmas letter for Christmas cards. I decided against photo cards this year (I will do one next year with Adam and Pickle), but did order a bunch of copies of a good picture of Adam to include with some cards. I'm going shopping for some more stuff on Monday (meeting Ray) and then I think I should be able to order all the pictures I need (for various incarnations) as well all the photo gifts I want to do.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Decorations

We put up our Christmas decorations today - Adam was so excited when he came down from his nap and saw the tree! Plus then he found his toys from last year (decorations that I have so he can play with) and was like "I remember these!"
Adam checking out things
Our living room
Our tree
I put a new picture of Adam in this ornament

Congrats to Dave and Stefanie!

My cousins, David and Stefanie, just announced they are going to have a baby in June! It's their first - I'm sure my Auntie Sue is over the moon about her first grandbaby!

Thanksgiving Food

Aside from my turkey still being frozen (and I took it out on SUNDAY!!), the food turned out really well. You can see my turkey finished above - nice and brown!
Ray and Brian carving the turkey
Leftovers - just a few!

I did try a new recipe for my dessert (Brian and Brittany also each brought one). We thought it turned out really well!
Strawberry Pie
Modified from Emeril

Graham Cracker Crust [he made his own, I just bought one]
5 cups strawberries, halved [I used 2 bags of frozen]
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
3 tbsp brandy

In a sauce pan, combine berries, sugar and vanilla and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Combine constarch, water and brandy in a separate bowl and then add to the berry mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickents [they said about 5minutes, this took me longer, but I think that was because I was using frozen]. Remove from the heat and cool. Pour into the pie crust. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or until filling sets.

Thanksgiving 2009

Pictures from yesterday - we had a great day!
Three Generations of Weber Men (scary, huh?)
Isn't that a happy kid?
Adam and Aunt Brittany
Uncle Brian and Adam playing
Uncle Brian and Adam
Aunt Brittany and Adam

Adam and Daddy

PaPa and Adam playing - lighting is bad, but it is a cute video!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm ready!

I got my baking to do list for today done and am ready for tomorrow. We are eating late (like 6) so that Adam can join us. He is such a meat-a-saurus that I'm sure he'll love gorging on turkey! Dave, Brian and Brittany should be here about noon tomorrow and it will be a good day. Everyon have a happy, safe and fun holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

I thought I'd take an idea from Christine and post my Thanksgiving menu:
  • Turkey and gravy (nothing special here, just roasting it and will make the gravy from the drippings)
  • Stuffing (I put mine in the crock pot versus in the bird - always stick an onion in the middle of my bird)
  • Coleslaw (Gram Stannard's recipe - the only way to eat coleslaw! Polish or nothing!)
  • Rolls (I use Rhodes frozen - you just let them rise and bake them off...Ray adores them...even though there are just 5 of us (plus Adam), I'm doing at least 3 dozen as Ray can eat a dozen himself!)
  • Strawberry Pie (I never could find rhubarb, so we are going straight strawberry - this is a new recipe I'm trying)

I also have cookies in the freezer from baking last weekend that I'll take out. Plus I still have doughnuts left. That's what I'm doing and then Dave, Brian and Brittany are bringing potatoes of some form, another dessert and veggies and dip.

New Cousin

This is Todd and Sharilyn's new baby - Emmy Pearl Minnick. She was born a few days ago.

Adam in a Box

We got this box from Great - Adam preferred just the box!

Notice his shirt?

Adam Painting with Daddy

Adam loves to paint Daddy's miniatures! Don't worry - its all non-toxic paint!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gifts in a Jar 2009

I tested out the soup recipe I'm doing for this year's Gifts in a Jar. I liked it - Ray thought it was flavored nicely, but too mushy. Ray isn't a fan of mushy stews (I like them personally), so you'll note some added thoughts on the cooking directions. We actually just made a 1/4 of this and still had leftovers.

Peas and Barley Soup Mix
Modified from Gifts in a Jar: Soups

1 cup green split peas
1 cup lentils
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 cup pearl barley
3/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup celery flakes
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper

Layer ingredients in order given in a 1 quart canning jar. With each layer down as you add. Attach a tag with cooking directions.

Cooking Directions:
1 jar Peas and Barley Soup Mix
4 cups chopped, cooked meat

Place soup mix in a large soup pot. Add 16-20 cups of water [16 if you want a very thick soup, more if you want a soup with more actual can decide this before you label....Ray likes more broth and thought it needed more] and meat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer for 45-50 minutes or until peas are tender.

Orange Sugar Cookies

I decided that since I'm trying to bake once a month for the troops overseas, that I'd try some new cookie recipes. The problem with cooking for family is they expect all the old favorites, so I never get to experiment much when baking (I have a riot if I don't make chocolate chip cookies). So I've decided this cooking project is my way of getting to!

These turned out fabulously and Ray adored them (he is a sugar cookie fanatic anyway). These were supposed to be Orange Snaps (meaning thin and crispy), but I like moist cookies, so I made these larger so they'd be soft. I think they turned out really well.

Orange Sugar Cookies (Snaps)
Modified from Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

***Needs to chill, so don't preheat yet***

1 1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate (which isn't the entire container, so expect to make a jug of orange juice with the remnants) [you could also use lemonade frozen concentrate here and I think that would be fabulous as lemon cookies....that's actually my own thought as well!]
2 beaten eggs
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
zest of one orange [if you did lemon cookies, use the zest of a lemon]
4 cups flour
1/3 cup white sugar (this is for rolling the cookies in, so you won't need it right away)

Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Add sugar and orange juice concentrate and stir. Let mixture cool slightly (you don't want to cook the eggs, but adding in frozen juice concentrate helps a lot!). Add the eggs, baking soda, salt and orange zest, stirring after each addition. Add flour in increments and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I did it overnight, as that is their best recommendation). (Notice the bowl has a perfect for doing all of this in one place....well, I didn't realize how much dough I'd have, so I actually went through a couple, but as you can see, this fits nicely in this container. I plan to try to just use this bowl next time.)
When you are ready to bake, preheat to 350, with rack in middle. Roll the chilled dough into balls with your hands. Put 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl and roll balls in it. Place on cookie sheet and press down a little (just to keep from rolling). Okay, see my size balls below...they said walnut sized, but since I wanted soft cookies, I went larger. I'm also usually a large cookie person anyway.
Bake for 13-14 minutes (10-12 if you are doing their original size) at 350. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack (do this....especially with the larger cookies...otherwise, they will fall apart on you and/or fall through the wire slats in pieces....I'm serious!).

Makes 3-4 dozen (this says 10 dozen, but with my larger cookies, I only got a couple dozen).

Stalled Out

I was doing awesome on my weekly grading and then kind of hit a brick wall about 8:30. I managed to get 1/2 through my midterms, but I really should have gotten further! It was my own fault....I realized that I needed to write up a few new notes for my key (I'm always changing/adding/deleting terms). Then I realized that I screwed up and included a term I specifically meant to I have to throw it out again, meaning my students get a 5 point curve. They'll be happy, I'm not, because I knew I was supposed to pull it and missed it somehow.

So anyway, I'm about to go to bed and currently being non-productive (eating ice cream).

A vegetable Adam does like

No, nothing I've cooked so far works, but I did remember something. Adam adores popcorn. And that just popped corn...I can count it, can't I? I'm not giving up on getting him to eat it at regular meals, but that does make me a feel a little better. Adam and Daddy are watching hockey tonight, which means popcorn.

Syllabi Completed

I got all my syllabi completed. Just need one more thing solidified (we are piloting a new program) and then I'm done with that part of preparing for spring classes. Yah!

Post Office Tidbits

First, if you haven't tried online postage from the USPS - try it. It is cheaper and easy. They supposedly will also even do free pick up -which during the holidays could prove very nice!

Second, I like the post office branch - I really do BUT lately they have been woefully understaffed all the time. They used to be always prepared, but lately they only have one clerk at obvious to be busy times (lunch time on Mondays....) and they were 15 minutes late opening the last time I was there on Saturday (and they, like most PO branches, already have stupid Saturday hours)! They are getting very lax - makes you wonder what is up. Plus some worker has been parking horizontally in vertical spots in the back parking lot (the one you have to use if the front slots are filled up...which isn't a rare is also loading/unloading for them) and I brought this up and was told this was his assigned spot!!!! Talk about ridiculous! You can bet I complained online (license plate number and all) - hopefully nationall will take them to task. I really wonder if they have a new postmaster...a new, lax, one....

Why am I complaining today? Well, because I got there and had to wait in line (with only one clerk open most of the time) for about 20 minutes with a very cranky toddler.

Now, I adore flat rate postage. Something cool - did you know it is cheaper to send things to the troops overseas than elsewhere in the US? APO addresses are considered "domestic," although you need a customs form, but they are cheaper than normal domestic shipping. Kind of cool to know. Not sure why this is, but I'm not complaining. I did figure out how to fill out my customs forms online today - very happy about that!

The PO is losing money and all that rot - the simple answer to stop Saturday delivery. First, they barely have branch hours anyway (or incredibly stupid ones), so it isn't like they are helping much. Stay open one night later - that would help us a lot more! Second, it is only businesses who really care exactly when stuff is delivered and most aren't open on Saturdays, so it isn't like they would be affected. This would probably solve their deficit and they could still deliver overnight/express on Saturdays, but nothing else.

While I'm on the government saving money - QUIT PRINTING DOLLAR BILLS....what a waste of currency! USE DOLLAR COINS!!!!

Okay, I've ranted - I feel better.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Baking for the Troops

Adam and I baking yesterday - we were baking for Derek's birthday (he's 21 this month...scary, huh?), the troops overseas, Thanksgiving and just for Daddy (he wanted apple cider doughnuts).

Adam's Cupboard

Adam likes to pull out all my padded envelopes and then he gets into the cupboard himself!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Iowa Trip

We spent last weekend in Iowa. I'm finally getting those pictures up here...just a little late!
Amy, Warren and Addie

Adam checking out Addie's toys! He never played in his overhead gym when he was her age, but now I guess it is cool!

Amy and Addie

Amy, Adam and Addie
Adam "helping" Addie - hopefully this bodes well for his "help" when I have the new baby!
Amy and Addie
Amy and Warren's house
They are literally in the middle of fields - their couple of acres is smack in the middle of other farms. There was constantly farm equipment on their road.
Their vineyard (Warren's hobby - they sell some of them and use some to make their own wine)
Adam checking out their vineyard - he was obssessed with the wire - as you can see by the videos below!

Raspberry Squares

Auntie Sue made this while we were in Connecticut. It was pretty good, although I thought rather dry. But I love raspberry anything, so that always makes it better. Plus this is very versatile - you could use any flavor of jam you wanted to make this any flavor you felt like.

Raspberry Squares

1/2 lb butter, melted
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz seedless raspberry jam

Preheat to 350.

Mix flour, sugar and melted butter.

Put 9 by 13 pan with 1/2 of the mixture then spread the jam on top of this. Crumble the rest of the mixture on top of this.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower

Yes, I'm on a vegetable kick - I will win over Adam! Ray loved this, although Adam still refused to eat it.

This was easy and a nice change from normal boiled or steamed cauliflower.

Preheat your oven to 400 and cut up head of cauliflower.

Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever else seasoning you want. They recommended red pepper flakes, which I didn't use (I am trying to convince to eat veggies, not scare him off!). What I used (also a recommendation of theirs of sorts) was Italian seasoning.

Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet.

Roast for 30-35 minutes or until cauliflower is soft and turns golden brown.

Honey and Ginger Glazed Carrots

Christine brought A Year of Slow Cooking to my attention. Last year, the author (Stephanie O'Dea) made a New Year's resolution to use her slow cooker every day for a year. I found this a really idea and so have been going through her old posts. What I really like is that since she was doing this daily, she was always looking for "new" things, thus not just the regular crock pot recipes (soups, stews, etc.).

I made this as she said they tasted like candy and I'm on a quest to get Adam to get his veggies. Well, these were pretty good (I actually don't like the pepper in it, although Ray did), but Adam still didn't eat them. Ray also liked them and they were very easy to make.

Honey and Ginger Glazed Carrots
Modified from A Year of Slow Cooking

4 cups of carrots, peeled and sliced [she used baby carrots, but I won't pay the premium and just peeled and cut up my own]
1/2 cup of orange juice
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp ginger [she used mostly cinnamon with a little ginger, but Ray doesn't like cinnamon so we used all ginger]
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.

Our Adam is Back!

Adam by last weekend was just completely wiped out from a month of going, going, going, so we spent this week really having him do nothing. Just letting him veg and recuperate and he is back in normal Adam form! I love seeing my happy baby back!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Adam loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which he calls Toodles (the thing they call for their Mouse-k-tools). This is him watching it - you can see how excited he gets! I couldn't get him calling Toodles on camera, of course! He'll actually call for Toodles sometimes when we are doing something and he wants escape/help! This is actually quite old - I was just cleaning off my camera as we are finally going to finish my example videos for 102 next week (life has just been too busy and Adam didn't cooperate with the baby-sitter idea).

One down!

I just sent off my Term 3 syllabus with the new template, so one down! Yah! And hopefully that one will be the worst - just in that I had the most changes to do.

I have always run my "weeks" in my online classes from Monday to Sunday, but am changing that this next term. First, Ray's schedule means he will never be home on Monday nights. Second, I have a little higher load, so I'm splitting up the grading between two days. So I'm going to make some of my classes' weeks end on Saturday and others end on Mondays.

I'm also changing how I do my history exams, so we'll see how that goes. The other big change is we are piloting MathMyLab in my algebra class. I think the students will get a lot of use of it and it will hopefully lighten my grading load. If it works, it will be awesome. I plan on writing up a separate survey about it to ask students at the end of next term so that we can get some input as we consider if we are making a permanent change.

Adam's Christmas Present

Adam is getting a train set this year for Christmas. We are probably going to go Thomas the Train and this is an idea of what we are hoping to end up with. What is nice is that everyone can give him something to go with it (and Daddy is going to build him a table), so it will make our family's shopping job easy. Adam loves playing with the train sets that are set up in places like Barnes and Noble, so I think he should get a lot of use out of it. We are going just with the plain wooden, but maybe in a year or two, we can add some electric cars. Right now he just like pushing/throwing them around!

Unusual Playgrounds

This is pretty cool! I rather liked the one for seniors!

Healthy vs. Unhealthy States

This is interesting - a list of the healthiest/unhealthiest states. A couple of things I noticed that were interesting (at least to me):

  • Alaska and Ohio were right next to each other, 33 and 34)
  • Ohio was in the bottom 10 for obesity
  • Connecticut was the top for obesity, CT was high in smoking and just based on my own family, I'd say that was true.

Otherwise, it wasn't too surprising - the bottom was all Southern states, as excepted.

I got in trouble....

So it turns out more of my immediate family reads this blog than I thought! I got in trouble about that whiny post from earlier this week about feeling like a bad mother. For the record, no, I really don't think I'm a terrible mother, I just was in a bad mood and feeling bad because I had to drag Adam through the process. I really just needed to complain/vent a little. I figure I can do that about personal things here, although I will admit I don't usually do too much about work as I wouldn't want to put up something a student could construe about themselves if they somehow ended up here. Ray usually ends up on the receiving end of all that! Since I hear about his problems, it is fair.

Still no rhubarb, but otherwise done

My Thanksgiving (sans rhubarb) is done. Adam and I finished it today. He was SO good during shopping (actually walked on his own through most of Wal-Mart, but was listening!) and so I treated him to french fries on the way home. He earned them!:)

I can't find rhubarb, but I haven't completely given up yet. The bugs ate mine so this wouldn't be an issue! I've tried all the local stores (I called a few rather than told me they did, but didn't....SO not happy with that clerk!), but we'll see. Ray might be getting strawberry pie this year!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Syllabus Templates

One of my universities has new syllabus templates for next term. While I understand why they do syllabus templates, they make me go insane! The problem isn't that I'm a renegade or anything, just that it is so hard to fit your stuff into the "one size fits all" template. And so much of it is boilerplate that I know the students don't read. It is just "cover your butt" stuff and again, I understand why it is there, it just doesn't make the process any easier. Once I get over the first term hump of a new template it is fine, but right now I'm going insane!

On a happier note, I decided to redo my tests - I'm actually making it shorter/easier on the students, so they will probably be easier. I do open book exams (not worth the trouble in an online course) for history. I also will not do multiple choice exams for history - I find those useless. Anyway, so I decided to can the short answers and just do essays since really that is the thought part and the rest, while making them do some research, is more just busy work. I decided no busy work - if it was in person, closed book, it would be more fruitful, but I've decided that after a couple of years of doing it one way, its time for a change. I've added a new debate assignment that I'm pysched about and would rather focus on that.

Miserable Day

Adam was not a happy camper last night and so was up and down, yet was still up this morning at 7:30 (so my father's fault!). I started getting a headache (sinuses mostly) about dinner yesterday and so by morning was exhausted and just feeling terrible. On top of it, it was raining! I want SNOW, not RAIN!! Its just was one of those days, I guess. It took me about two hours this morning to even feel human, but I still have a headache.

I did get my Thanksgiving shopping mostly done, although I'm still sans a turkey. Adam and I will take care of that tomorrow and finish up the rest of the shopping. Dave, Brian and Brittany are all coming here for the day, so it should be fun.

I did find a great new author - Ann Purser. I read Weeping on Wednesday and was quite impressed. I'm looking forward to more of this series (and it is an older one, which means lots of backlist, which is great!). I have also been cleaning out and have several book lots listed on Ebay - feeling good about that. Good, solid, mysteries set in Britain by a British author, which gives a great authencity to the book.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roasted Broccoli

I saw Rachael Ray roast broccolini once and have been wondering about roasting regular broccoli ever since. I don't roast many vegetables, but am trying to figure out how to convince Adam to eat vegetables, so I'm trying different things. I was actually very happy with this roast broccoli (although Adam still refused to eat it). I bought a bunch at the market and steamed half and roasted the other half. Both were good (Adam didn't agree on either....athough he has eaten broccoli before!), but the roast is really cool flavor/texture. Different in a good way. We'll be doing this again!

It is also REALLY simple:
Preheat oven to 475.

Cut up broccoli and toss in olive oil and season with garlic, salt and pepper to taste (and here you could go crazy and do whatever you wanted...I saw some cool ideas, like chili powder or parmesan cheese!).

Put on cooking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Stir and repeat until you get the doneness you want. This took me about 13 minutes (two 5 minute periods and then 3 more). The size of broccoli pieces plus amount will affect this.

You want slightly brown, crispy, edges.

Productive Day

Wednesdays usually aren't too productive as Ray is gone all day and night (doesn't get home until Adam is almost in bed - already fed and bathed) because of his night class. But today really was. I'm feeling good about what I've done, so I'm going to list it out for you (not because you really care, but because I do) - and Adam "helped" with a lot of this (which means more work for me, but it is good for him):
  • Planted new aerogarden
  • Picked up the house
  • Had web meeting with work on new spring courses (with Adam up, a major accomplishment!)
  • Put away clothes (they were clean....I was just to the point where I had go downstairs to get dressed in the morning...that might have been a hint!)
  • Started Christmas lists
  • Made Thanksgiving menu/shopping lists
  • Wrote some blogs for the APB
  • Balanced checkbook
  • Did regular classwork (I'm writing examples now between lines)
  • List some items on Ebay
  • Did one load of laundry (washed, dried and folded)
  • Web cammed with my parents with Adam
  • Cleaned out personal email accounts

I think that's it....I've just finished writing up example problems for a student, so I'm off to post them. Hey, since just dealing with Adam can be an accomplishment I'm feeling pretty good. Plus I tried a new thing - roasting broccoli - for dinner and it came out well. I'll post on that later (or tomorrow).

Owl Footage

This is one of my father's new animal videos - I thought it was pretty cool of this owl! As a note, if you ever want to see animals, just check out his YouTube channel - he has tons!

AeroGarden Woes

Okay, first I want to start by saying that I like the productivity and useability of my aerogarden. It produces very nice herbs in an easy manner and has proven almost impossible to screw up. It is even pretty easy to clean and change.

That said, their customer services is atrocious! Anytime you order anything (and they certainly are NOT cheap and they have their replacement kits priced so that you can never get free shipping unless you order several at once) takes forever to get here (case in point, the new kit I just ordered took a MONTH!). They are often out of certain kits or won't let you make your own at any given time. When I emailed about the last order, I was just given a roundabout answer...oh, it'll be there eventually! That's not a good answer.

In addition, their kits are not interchangeable between models (I found this out the hard way). Actually I ordered the 6 spot space saver and got the 7 space model. I probably would have complained (this was last Christmas), but honestly, we weren't home from Christmas and so I barely looked at the box until after as I didn't plan to plant it until then and so didn't notice it until it had been delivered for over a month, so I just went with it (the model they sent was worth more anyway). But I had pre-ordered some kits to match the one I thought I had bought and turned out I couldn't use them. I'm going to try planting the seed kits next spring.

So just some thoughts if you are thinking about an aerogarden. The herbs (and I'm sure all their other products) are fabulous (I actually often have more than I need), but working with the company is very annoying!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trying to get caught up and back on schedule

After almost a month of stuff going on, we are trying to get caught up and back on track. I decided to try to move Adam's naptime up an hour or so (it had crept later) since I'm working on getting us back on our "normal" schedule anyway. Today seemed to go well for that. The weather here is still very nice - we all went for a walk when Adam got up from his nap (and with an earlier naptime, he was up before it was dark!). I think after our big weekend, Adam's appetite is also catching up with him - he was gobbling food today (never a bad thing in a toddler!). Now if I can just get him to eat some fruits and veggies. Any ideas? He eats them fine in purees, but will not touch them alone. If I "hide" them in baby food, he eats them, but for some reason won't eat them regularly. I'm thinking it is a texture issue, so any idea for different ways to offer them to him would be appreciated! If I could get him to eat a little of each, I could completely toss baby food (as he's a complete meatosaurus and will eat any meat in huge quantities!). At this point, the reason I'm still doing some purees is just that otherwise I feel that a huge portion of his diet is missing (fruits and veggies). He'll sometimes eat broccoli....we might be eating a lot of that over the winter! I'm going to try crockpoting some carrots - I found a honey recipe that I was hoping he'd like.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I feel like a bad mother....

This is probably what I get for being up grading (going to bed after this....the rest of the exams can wait until tomorrow), but I'm just feeling bad about Adam. We asked a lot of him recently and so today he was just cranky and done. The flu clinic was like the last straw for him - he wanted to home napping and not in line. So he was very uncooperative and I ended up having to constantly force him to move or hold him against his general just fight with him. But now I'm feeling like everyone in line thought I was a terrible mother for dragging my child around.....I seriously tried to be prepared, but it just seemed like I did everything wrong for him. He's sound asleep and hopefully forgotten everything, but I remember.....


So I'm currently grading (what I do every Monday night) and sometimes it seems that is all I ever do.....I really grading math homework in virtual form - I like being able to scribble right on much faster....although given my handwriting, it is probably easier on the students!

H1N1: Part I

Adam and I did get shots today BUT I found out that Adam needs two (anyone under 9), so that means we get to do this again in the a month. Not fun! It actually was better than I thought it would be, but it was still an hour of waiting with a cranky toddler who was missing his nap. Mainly he was just uncooperative even though I tried SO hard to be prepared! But they actually started processing registrations early and once they started, the line moved quickly, which was something.

I'm still of the opinion that they should have done this through doctor's offices (like Adam's pediatrician and my OB) rather than these blasted clinics (although not having to pay was nice). But honestly none of the offices that said they were getting shots have gotten any - just the clinics. And my county has only done one - we went to another county as they have been much more organized.

I'm going to be honest, if Ray didn't work with a bunch of college students who are the main worry source (crowded living and poor hygiene), I probably wouldn't have bothered with these at all, but I'm just worried that Ray will bring it home with him and give it to me and Adam. That said, the universities around here have been trying really hard (to almost the point of absurdity), but still I thought it was a risk we shouldn't take.

Home from Iowa

We got home from Iowa last night - it was great seeing Amy and Wareen and meeting baby Addie, but it was definitely a lot of driving in a short time. Adam was VERY happy to be home. Today, though, we are hopefully getting H1N1 wish us luck! I'm planning ahead for a long wait time and taking our portable DVD player for Adam to keep him occupied. I can't see him enjoying sitting and waiting for what could be a couple of hours.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Go John from AZ!!

I got my new Rachael Ray magazine today and I was flipping through it and was reading the "reader's comments" in the front. John from AZ was complaining about something I totally agree with - the recipes are all for big cities. Rachael "thinks" her ingredients are easy to find "anywhere," but she's insane! I can never find at least one item or if I do it, I'm not willing to pay two arm and a leg for it (case in point - pancetta...I always use bacon). The writers of these magazines and the food network celebrities truly have NO IDEA what small town grocery stores carry! What they need to do is go canvas a couple of grocery stories in small town America. They are on the East Coast, for the most part, where there are tons of options and usually tons of speciality marts - that just isn't the case in the Midwest! Ravenna (smaller, by the way), where I still can't find most of the stuff, is a LOT better than Grand Forks! The major grocery stores in Grand Forks, if you ask at the butcher counter about pancetta, look at you and go "what?". There example of keeping things out was fennel - I can FIND that....I just can't find the things they DO put in their magazine, so obviously they all live in their own world and I think their sky isn't blue like mine!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

Auntie Sue made this while we were in CT. It was very good, but I'm not sure if I'd be willing to put in this much work - that's actually almost always my problem with the Barefoot Contessa's recipes.

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

Chicken Stew
6 chicken breasts, cooked and cut up
3 1/2 cups onions, sautéed [this originally put in pearl onions later, which I don’t like, so I just put in to add more regular onions]
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup flour
5 cups chicken broth [I would normally just use bouillon and if I made these myself I would.]
1/4 cup heavy cream.
2 cups carrots, blanched and cut up [I’d probably just use frozen]
2 cups frozen peas

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, diced
¾ cup half and half
½ cup parsley

1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp water

Sauté onions and butter for about 10 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Add in chicken brother and then blend and thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste and then heavy cream. Add in carrots, peas, parsley and chicken. Put into 9 by 13 pan and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.

Remove stew from oven and put biscuits on top. Brush with egg wash and return to the oven. Bake for another 20-30 minutes, until biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

Serves 8.

Nobel Peace Prize: Mother Teresa

I was looking up Nobel Peace Prize addresses for use on the APB since Obama got one, so I though I'd post all the past speeches and then post his when it comes out. I get to be opinonated here (I try really hard to be neutral at the APB and in all my classes), so I can truthfully say that I'm not a huge fan of this decision. Obama might someday deserve it (I really can't say as I can't see into the future), but I just can't say he does now. I'm also not a fan of Woodrow Wilson's getting it, but there at least, I don't think they knew that the US has refused to ratify the treaty when they made their decision (and, of course, while everyone, but the French, must have know there would be problems with the reparations schedule, they didn't know what would all come of the League and the Treaty). TR at least got it for a specific thing (ending the Russo-Japanese War), but honsetly I most like Jimmy Carter as the most deserving US President as he got in 2002 for a lifetime of service.

Now, that all said, my favorite - and in my opinion, the most deserving (although there have been a lot of great people awarded this prize) - winner is Mother Teresa. So I thought I'd post her Nobel speech here just because I want to - if you go to the site, you can listen to the original as well, which is REALLY cool.

As we have gathered here together to thank God for the Nobel Peace Prize I think it will be beautiful that we pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi which always surprises me very much - we pray this prayer every day after Holy Communion, because it is very fitting for each one of us, and I always wonder that 4-500 years ago as St. Francis of Assisi composed this prayer that they had the same difficulties that we have today, as we compose this prayer that fits very nicely for us also. I think some of you already have got it - so we will pray together.

Let us thank God for the opportunity that we all have together today, for this gift of peace that reminds us that we have been created to live that peace, and Jesus became man to bring that good news to the poor. He being God became man in all things like us except sin, and he proclaimed very clearly that he had come to give the good news. The news was peace to all of good will and this is something that we all want - the peace of heart - and God loved the world so much that he gave his son - it was a giving - it is as much as if to say it hurt God to give, because he loved the world so much that he gave his son, and he gave him to Virgin Mary, and what did she do with him?

As soon as he came in her life - immediately she went in haste to give that good news, and as she came into the house of her cousin, the child - the unborn child - the child in the womb of Elizabeth, leapt with joy. He was that little unborn child, was the first messenger of peace. He recognised the Prince of Peace, he recognised that Christ has come to bring the good news for you and for me. And as if that was not enough - it was not enough to become a man - he died on the cross to show that greater love, and he died for you and for me and for that leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and New York, and London, and Oslo - and insisted that we love one another as he loves each one of us. And we read that in the Gospel very clearly - love as I have loved you - as I love you - as the Father has loved me, I love you - and the harder the Father loved him, he gave him to us, and how much we love one another, we, too, must give each other until it hurts. It is not enough for us to say: I love God, but I do not love my neighbour. St. John says you are a liar if you say you love God and you don't love your neighbour. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbour whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live. And so this is very important for us to realise that love, to be true, has to hurt. It hurt Jesus to love us, it hurt him. And to make sure we remember his great love he made himself the bread of life to satisfy our hunger for his love. Our hunger for God, because we have been created for that love. We have been created in his image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one - the naked one - the homeless one - the sick one - the one in prison - the lonely one - the unwanted one - and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.

I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see - this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect to love. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried, and these are difficult days for everybody. Are we there, are we there to receive them, is the mother there to receive the child?

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given into drugs, and I tried to find out why - why is it like that, and the answer was: Because there is no one in the family to receive them. Father and mother are so busy they have no time. Young parents are in some institution and the child takes back to the street and gets involved in something. We are talking of peace. These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child - I will not forget you - I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you. And today the greatest means - the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here - our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child - what is left for me to kill you and you kill me - there is nothing between. And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: Let us bring the child back, and this year being the child's year: What have we done for the child? At the beginning of the year I told, I spoke everywhere and I said: Let us make this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted. And today is the end of the year, have we really made the children wanted? I will give you something terrifying. We are fighting abortion by adoption, we have saved thousands of lives, we have sent words to all the clinics, to the hospitals, police stations - please don't destroy the child, we will take the child. So every hour of the day and night it is always somebody, we have quite a number of unwedded mothers - tell them come, we will take care of you, we will take the child from you, and we will get a home for the child. And we have a tremendous demand from families who have no children, that is the blessing of God for us. And also, we are doing another thing which is very beautiful - we are teaching our beggars, our leprosy patients, our slum dwellers, our people of the street, natural family planning.

And in Calcutta alone in six years - it is all in Calcutta - we have had 61,273 babies less from the families who would have had, but because they practise this natural way of abstaining, of self-control, out of love for each other. We teach them the temperature meter which is very beautiful, very simple, and our poor people understand. And you know what they have told me? Our family is healthy, our family is united, and we can have a baby whenever we want. So clear - those people in the street, those beggars - and I think that if our people can do like that how much more you and all the others who can know the ways and means without destroying the life that God has created in us.

The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. The other day one of them came to thank and said: You people who have vowed chastity you are the best people to teach us family planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other. And I think they said a beautiful sentence. And these are people who maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home where to live, but they are great people. The poor are very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition - and I told the Sisters: You take care of the other three, I take of this one that looked worse. So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: Thank you - and she died.

I could not help but examine my conscience before her, and I asked what would I say if I was in her place. And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself, I would have said I am hungry, that I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain, or something, but she gave me much more - she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. As that man whom we picked up from the drain, half eaten with worms, and we brought him to the home. I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for. And it was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that, who could die like that without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel - this is the greatness of our people. And that is why we believe what Jesus had said: I was hungry - I was naked - I was homeless - I was unwanted, unloved, uncared for - and you did it to me.

I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we are touching the Body of Christ 24 hours. We have 24 hours in this presence, and so you and I. You too try to bring that presence of God in your family, for the family that prays together stays together. And I think that we in our family don't need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace - just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.

There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. It is to God Almighty - how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.

Some time ago in Calcutta we had great difficulty in getting sugar, and I don't know how the word got around to the children, and a little boy of four years old, Hindu boy, went home and told his parents: I will not eat sugar for three days, I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa for her children. After three days his father and mother brought him to our home. I had never met them before, and this little one could scarcely pronounce my name, but he knew exactly what he had come to do. He knew that he wanted to share his love.

And this is why I have received such a lot of love from you all. From the time that I have come here I have simply been surrounded with love, and with real, real understanding love. It could feel as if everyone in India, everyone in Africa is somebody very special to you. And I felt quite at home I was telling Sister today. I feel in the Convent with the Sisters as if I am in Calcutta with my own Sisters. So completely at home here, right here.

And so here I am talking with you - I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people. And find out about your next-door neighbour - do you know who they are? I had the most extraordinary experience with a Hindu family who had eight children. A gentleman came to our house and said: Mother Teresa, there is a family with eight children, they had not eaten for so long - do something. So I took some rice and I went there immediately. And I saw the children - their eyes shinning with hunger - I don't know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And she took the rice, she divided the rice, and she went out. When she came back I asked her - where did you go, what did you do? And she gave me a very simple answer: They are hungry also. What struck me most was that she knew - and who are they, a Muslim family - and she knew. I didn't bring more rice that evening because I wanted them to enjoy the joy of sharing. But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy with their mother because she had the love to give. And you see this is where love begins - at home. And I want you - and I am very grateful for what I have received. It has been a tremendous experience and I go back to India - I will be back by next week, the 15th I hope - and I will be able to bring your love.

And I know well that you have not given from your abundance, but you have given until it has hurt you. Today the little children they have - I was so surprised - there is so much joy for the children that are hungry. That the children like themselves will need love and care and tenderness, like they get so much from their parents. So let us thank God that we have had this opportunity to come to know each other, and this knowledge of each other has brought us very close. And we will be able to help not only the children of India and Africa, but will be able to help the children of the whole world, because as you know our Sisters are all over the world. And with this prize that I have received as a prize of peace, I am going to try to make the home for many people that have no home. Because I believe that love begins at home, and if we can create a home for the poor - I think that more and more love will spread. And we will be able through this understanding love to bring peace, be the good news to the poor. The poor in our own family first, in our country and in the world.

To be able to do this, our Sisters, our lives have to be woven with prayer. They have to be woven with Christ to be able to understand, to be able to share. Because today there is so much suffering - and I feel that the passion of Christ is being relived all over again - are we there to share that passion, to share that suffering of people. Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society - that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult. Our Sisters are working amongst that kind of people in the West. So you must pray for us that we may be able to be that good news, but we cannot do that without you, you have to do that here in your country. You must come to know the poor, maybe our people here have material things, everything, but I think that if we all look into our own homes, how difficult we find it sometimes to smile at each, other, and that the smile is the beginning of love.

And so let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love, and once we begin to love each other naturally we want to do something. So you pray for our Sisters and for me and for our Brothers, and for our Co-Workers that are around the world. That we may remain faithful to the gift of God, to love Him and serve Him in the poor together with you. What we have done we should not have been able to do if you did not share with your prayers, with your gifts, this continual giving. But I don't want you to give me from your abundance, I want that you give me until it hurts.

The other day I received 15 dollars from a man who has been on his back for twenty years, and the only part that he can move is his right hand. And the only companion that he enjoys is smoking. And he said to me: I do not smoke for one week, and I send you this money. It must have been a terrible sacrifice for him, but see how beautiful, how he shared, and with that money I bought bread and I gave to those who are hungry with a joy on both sides, he was giving and the poor were receiving. This is something that you and I - it is a gift of God to us to be able to share our love with others. And let it be as it was for Jesus. Let us love one another as he loved us. Let us love Him with undivided love. And the joy of loving Him and each other - let us give now - that Christmas is coming so close. Let us keep that joy of loving Jesus in our hearts. And share that joy with all that we come in touch with. And that radiating joy is real, for we have no reason not to be happy because we have no Christ with us. Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor that we meet, Christ in the smile that we give and the smile that we receive. Let us make that one point: That no child will be unwanted, and also that we meet each other always with a smile, especially when it is difficult to smile.

I never forget some time ago about fourteen professors came from the United States from different universities. And they came to Calcutta to our house. Then we were talking about that they had been to the home for the dying. We have a home for the dying in Calcutta, where we have picked up more than 36,000 people only from the streets of Calcutta, and out of that big number more than 18,000 have died a beautiful death. They have just gone home to God; and they came to our house and we talked of love, of compassion, and then one of them asked me: Say, Mother, please tell us something that we will remember, and I said to them: Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. Smile at each other. And then another one asked me: Are you married, and I said: Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because he can be very demanding sometimes. This is really something true, and there is where love comes - when it is demanding, and yet we can give it to Him with joy. Just as I have said today, I have said that if I don't go to Heaven for anything else I will be going to Heaven for all the publicity because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to Heaven. I think that this is something, that we must live life beautifully, we have Jesus with us and He loves us. If we could only remember that God loves me, and I have an opportunity to love others as he loves me, not in big things, but in small things with great love, then Norway becomes a nest of love. And how beautiful it will be that from here a centre for peace has been given. That from here the joy of life of the unborn child comes out. If you become a burning light in the world of peace, then really the Nobel Peace Prize is a gift of the Norwegian people. God bless you!.

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta Modifications

I made this recipe on Sunday, but realized too late that I didn't have the right ingredients, so I have some alternatives that work well for you now as it turned out really well!

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta
Modified from Quick Cooking

8 oz uncooked pasta [I had some leftover whole wheat pasta and this worked well in here...and adds some extra nutrition on your kids!]
1 lb ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper
6 bacon strips, diced
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed tomato soup, undiluted [regular tomato sauce is just fine...that's what I just used this time...I used a 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce]
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp barbecue sauce

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook beef, onion, salt and pepper over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink, then drain and set aside. In the same skillet, cook bacon until crisp, remove with slotted spoon to paper towels. Discard drippings. Drain pasta. Mix barbecue sauce with tomato soup. Mix soup mixture, pasta, beef mixture and bacon in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese and cover. Put in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Serves 4-6.

Yah for Me!

Anyone who knows my parents know that they only eat about 7 or so things and eat them in regular succession. That's probably why I like to experiment (although I do still like all the old favorites). So to GET anything into my parents' rotation is a BIG deal...but I continue to try and I have SUCCESS!!! When my parents were here, we made my Winter Savory Soup (pretty much hamburger soup in the crock pot) and my father just made it at home - it made it into their reportorie!!! So I'm reposting the recipe in glee!

Savory Winter Soup
Modified from Taste of Home Ground Beef Cookbook
***needs a crockpot****

2 lbs. ground beef
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 medium green peppers, chopped [I added this because I didn't have enough onions and liked it this way]
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cans (10 1/2 oz. each) condensed beef broth, undiluted [I split this in half (as the entire recipe is a ton) and what I did so I didn't have to use half of a can of the beef broth, I just put 2 bouillon cubes in 1 cup of water (as usually it is one to one) to make it like condensed beef broth and then used 5 oz of that (which is about 1/2 of a can, which is 10.5 oz, and 5 oz is 2/3 of a cup).]
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained [or 2 cans of 14 oz diced tomatoes....I don't like tomatoes, this is really added to the broth and by using small diced tomatoes, they really aren't annoying in the soup like the bunch chunks some recipes like.]
3 c. water
1 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced celery
1 c. fresh or frozen green beans [I used frozen]
1 c. cubed peeled potatoes
2 T. minced fresh or 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, cook beef, onions, peppers and garlic over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink: drain. Transfer to a 5 qt. slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours or until heated through.

14 servings (3 1/2 qts.)

As a note, I also convinced them years ago of the joy of a crock pot (which is weird that I had to, given they got married in the 70s and probably got like 3 for wedding gifts!).

New Title....again

Gotta include Pickle, so I changed the name!:)

Happy Veteran's Day!

Thanks to all our service men and women!

Jennie Update

Well, so far, so good. I'll probably take Tynoel before bed just in case, but I'm seem to be doing good. The temporary filling (large and ugly) is rather annoying and is still giving off a funny taste (which is normal for temporary, according to them this morning....same with losing a piece here or there), but not really giving me any trouble. The abcess (which was a sign that I and my dentist misread (again due to no x-rays on their part) for a long time) hasn't seemed to get any worse and is supposed to go away in a couple of days, which would be great, as that was the only thing that was actually bugging me.

Ray did go out and get me Chinese for dinner, the sweet boy.:) There is no Chinese take out in Ravenna, so we have to drive to Kent, so this is actually a nice thing for him to do for me as I really like fried rice and don't get it that often (although I just found a crock pot recipe for it that I'm going to try....I've tried various recipes for fried rice, but just can't seem to get it right at home....I actually asked the Chinese grad student in my history department for help years ago, but she printed off recipes off the Internet for me....not exactly what I was looking of the other foriegn exchange students gave me his own, which wasn't actually Chinese, but still good in its own way and it was cool he actually took time to come over and help me).

Sesame Street con't

Okay, so today we got another new Sesame Street - yes, I'm excited, I live with an almost two year old! My biggest beef with the new season (as I don't actually mind Elmo, who my hubby hates) is the new Abby's Fairy School. My problem isn't the idea, but that it is CG!!!! WHY???? Abby (who actually I like, she's cute) has always been a puppet and seriously she looks DUMB in CG. Plus it DOESN'T MATCH!!!!!

No so impressive books

Okay, continuing on my quest to clean up my reading pile, I finished Rotten to the Core by Sheila Connolly. I'm really not sure on my opinion of the book. It was okay, but not great. The fact I managed to ignore it, in the middle of the mystery, says a lot, to me. So I don't know if I'll bother to try anything else from this series. The characters are okay, the story was also about average, just nothing special.

I'm skimming Everybody's Suspect in Georgia by Cecil Murphey to finish it. Can't say I'm impressed here either. It is one of the three-in-one Christian fiction mysteries and just not that interesting or the characters that fun. I also finished the second book in another of these series, Another Hour to Kill by Anita Higman. Since I just skimmed about the last 50 pages of a murder mystery, I can't say I was that impressed either. The first one in this series was pretty good, but this one really didn't live up to the last one. The main sleuth never confides in anyone (including her finance) and so is usually working alone, which takes all the fun out of it for me. The mystery was also a bit on the strange side, which I'm not a huge fan of either.

I just started a new mystery author - J.B. Stanley and so far this one seems more promising. So I'm off to work on finishing my stack without starting too much more!

Root Canal: Part I

Yes, seriously, just part ONE. I have to go through two more appointments (one with the endodontist again and then one with my regular dentist) and hopefully that will be it (pray for me!). Turned out I had an infection down there, so they had to clean it out, put in medicine and then I have to go back in a couple of weeks and if it passes inspection, they'll finish the job. Originally it was only one endodontist appointment, but granted, with limited x-rays on me, they really had no idea what they were getting into. They also have me on penicillin. Such fun.....and all this at 8 AM in the morning (after a 45 minute drive, of course!). The only good thing was the office/doctor/hygienist seem very nice and professional. They also seem to have my insurance in hand, which also helps! About 3 I was finally getting rid of the last of the numbness and don't seem to have much toothache pain, so hopefully that continues, but they said Tylenol would help.

Olga also survived the vet this morning and seems to be fine - just stress I guess from lots of people in "her" space - silly kitty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I'm at that point where I have about 10 books "open," so I've vowed to finish some of them before starting anything new! I get this way every few months - I've been distracted by a bunch of new book by old authors coming out. Anyway, I just finished two (new books by old of which distracted me from the other...both are finished now and I've gone back to a new author I started and then got distracted from....see the cycle?):
  • Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This one was okay - the first two in the series were better, in my opinion. She spent very little time in her own store, doing anything remotely associated with books. In addition, both she and her assistant broke up with their "steadys," so that means new something in the future...and her sister's "steady" is definitely on the skids! The mystery itself was okay, but the end was one of those where 50 things come out all at once...kind of overwhelming and a cheap shot at the end. I also wasn't a big fan of the entire freegan sideline.

  • Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle

This was a pretty good addition to the series, but it was a typical holiday one in which a good chunk of the end of the book was all recipes/tips. Their fa-la-la lattes sounds really good, but I don't drink coffee, so I might try some tea adapting. The mystery was okay, but again it seemed too much came out all at once at the end (I think to deal with shortening for the holidays).

Adam HD videos

Dad was playing with his new HD camera while here, but we couldn't manage the videos, but he must have gotten it figured out and you can see a couple of new Adam videos on his channel at YouTube:

Sesame Street

You probably have to be the parent of a small child to understand the full importance of this, but the new season (the fortieth - Sesame Street is 40 today) of Sesame Street aired today. What is so important about this (to me and many other parents, I'm sure) is that the people at PBS choose to only air the current season and a few episodes from the one before that and do so repetitively. So that means in any given season, you see the same 10 to 15 episodes countless times. While kids don't mind, this grates on the adult mind! So I was quite excited to see a new episode - one I hadn't seen - on our DVR (yes, we DVR children's cartoons....they are never on when I need right before then it is all teen stuff that my son could care less about (yet, of course....scary thought!)). And, guess who was on this new episode? Michelle Obama (I posted the videos at the APB - that link)! But seriously, I was so excited to see NEW material. Given that Sesame Street as FORTY YEARS of episodes this is RIDICULOUS!!! Give us poor parents some variety!!!

Now you can buy some of the old stuff on DVD - we bought two DVD sets of the original stuff (so 1969 through the mid-70s) and guess what they put at the beginning? A disclaimer that is isn't suitable for modern children!!!! Are they serious???? My son is SO watching it! [did you know Oscar started out orange?] People are crazy is all I have to say. We also like to buy the old cartoons - you know the Acme hammer stuff? The GOOD stuff...they carry the same blasted disclaimers!!! Are modern children that much stupider than we were that they can't differentiate between cartoons and reality? Or are parents that stupid? Or just that sue-happy? Seriously, have we dropped so low as as a society that we can't understand the fun of the Acme hammer?

Oh, also on Sesame Street - they started out just as crazy multicultural as they are today. Then it was mostly on racial issues (the most current problem then), but still - just as focused on that subject. Ray and I joke that in any given scene of Sesame Street you can't find two children of the same ethnicity! While I'm all for multiculturalism, they tend to push it a little far at times!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ice Cream Break

I'm working on grading right now, but I'm on an ice cream break...definitely been that kind of day! Adam was up early this morning, which I was not into, but can't change a toddler's mind when he decides its time to get up. I had a bunch of calls to make after I got us up and dressed (which I took my time about). I called and set up Olga's vet appointment for Wednesday. Now, I had made an appointment for my root canal for next Thursday, but decided I really didn't want to wait that long (mainly didn't want to dread it that long), so I decided to see if I could find another specialist through my insurance. So I started calling...and actually found one about the third one down. One of them I called didn't even do molar root canals, even though they listed endodontics, which I thought was strange. I actually think I like this new place better (cancelled the other appointment) as they seem much more professional and now after talking to that middle one, I'm wondering if the first place would have even done it once I got there! Anyway, this place is just endodontics and can get me on this this Wednesday (so just two days to go). This is good since I will still have to go back to my regular dentist after they are done (yet another annoyance of this process!) and I want to get this done. Turns out though I need a specific form from my dentist for my insurance, which they told me about (and since the first one didn't, that makes me wonder as well....). So although I have to drive to Akron tomorrow for said form, at least it seems to be getting done. I also then called my insurance again and made sure this choice was acceptable and that all I needed was said form. Now, if you remember, the insurance people were "looking" into the matter (that Ray fixed locally) - I figured I'd never hear back from them, but they actually called me this morning to say it was all fixed - actually impressed about that as that is just next business day! I think I have this process figured out, but it will do me no good in the future, as Ray's employer is catching dental providers on January 1!

Grading is going slowly as well - lots of small things that have to dealt with. Adam and I even had to make a quick run to the PO, which I so didn't want to do (its goregous, I would have preferred to walk, but by the time I got the mail and realized I needed to mail stuff out, it was too close to naptime...).

Adam and I did get outside for awhile and break down boxes to drop off tomorrow for recycling. Adam was pretty crabby today - really he is still recovering from three weeks of fun. Which is another reason I don't want to go to Akron, but, oh, well, I have to get the paperwork and they can't fax it.

I guess I'd better get back to work......

Sunday, November 08, 2009

What else can go wrong?

We actually had a very productive day, but it started out with Ray's computer rejecting his video card...his was breaking, he put in an old one, the old one refused to work....we had to go buy a new one. The cat is also pooping outside her litter box and there is blood in it, so we have to go the vet. Added to my root canal...not our best week! Hopefully, tomorrow will not bring anymore nasty surprises.

But Adam did take a good nap today although he was a crabby boy at Mass this morning.

Book List

Just a quick note - I found a new author: Elizabeth Lynn Casey. The book was interesting and fun, but since this is just the debut book of the series, we'll see if she can continue that.

I also just read the new Nora Roberts (yes, my guilty pleasure) - I really like this new series as it isn't demons and vampires and other crazy things - just nice relaxing romance!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Well, we took my parents to the airport today (they are now home safe) really early (we had to drop them off at 7 AM). We decided since we were already in Cleveland, to do some bookstores. Our biggest problem was finding stuff to do until they opened at 10! We went to breakfast, then the mall (which is open, but the stores aren't) so Adam could play in playland. We also hit Target (who open at 8). We drove around a bit and found a cool historic district (not open!) and finally went back to the bookstores, which were finally now open. We hit them (found a few books, took back a bag as well...I think we actually came home with fewer than we left with, always a good thing for us) and then went to Ray's store in the mall (and Adam got more playtime at the playland). We found a cool new kids toys store in the mall that we checked out (some ideas for Christmas....we are thinking train set for Adam....he adores Thomas the Train at Barnes and Noble). We then went to Friday's for lunch (I wanted to go) and then went home and were home pre-nap time, although Adam never did got to sleep (today was a messed up day....was to be will take some time for him to settle - he needs some downtime). We then walked to the park as we had GORGEOUS Indian summer weather. Adam was pretty tired all evening and needs a good night sleep. He had SO much fun with Grandma and Grandpa, but with the trip to CT and everything else is definitely ready for some downtime. We are actually going to Iowa next weekend, so I'm definitely going to keep this week as low key as possible for him. We are going to see Amy, Warren and ADDIE!!! We meant to go before my parents came, but Ray was too crazy at work, so we are going now - hopefully the roads will be good!

Otherwise (except for needing a root canal), we are all fine (pickle included).

Cute Adam

Adam on the trip to NH - only a baby!


While in CT, we had to make a trek to Cabela's in Hartford for my father. So I just let Adam run around - there is ton of stuff to look at and very little breakable! He had a ball in the set up tents (even did some business....had to find a bathroom after that! The next person looking in that tent must have thought someone really let one loose in that one!) and just in general had fun. Cabela's also sells some household goods - all some hunting/outdoor theme of some type. This chair cracked me up! I can so see it in someone like my brother's living room - it would have to be a bachelor - or at least a room where the wife never entered! But Adam climbed right up - with the pop gun he was carting around at the moment (I would have actually gotten him it if he had ever figured out how to work it! Anyway, he deserted it a few minutes later....he has a short attention span) and it was so adorable I had to share!


As I said - here is Sue's house with Adam watching his DVDs before nap (I think I posted a similar picture earlier...but seriously, I love this player now!)

Auntie Stasia beautifying Gram - she is using my mother's curling iron. For anyone who knows my mother, you'd know she has had the same for YEARS (decades probably)