Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Delicious Recipe: Kate's Double Award Winning Chicken Chili

Yum yum yum yum yum!!

This Chicken Chili is so good, it might as well be chocolate. Seriously, this is a recipe you don't want to ignore. Put it on your menu and scribble the ingredients on your grocery lists.

Last February, I won the coveted St. Andrew Lutheran Church Chili Cook-off Award. That same week, my mom won an award for it at her office! Thus, you have...

Kate's Double Award Winning Chicken Chili

1 Large Garlic Clove
1 T oil
2 12-oz cans of great northern beans
1 4 oz. can of diced green chilis
1 16-oz jar mild to medium salsa
1-2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C chicken broth
1 t cumin
1 T chili powder
2 C grated cheddar cheese
sour cream to top and corn chips to munch on the side

Cut chicken into bite sized cubes, then cook in fry pan till just done.

Puree salsa. (A hand blender works great!)

In large saucepan, add all ingredients except cheese and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring often.

10-15 min. before serving, add the cheese, again stirring often. (If you add the cheese too soon, it will burn.)

Sorry, but there is no photo of the finished product! We were so excited to eat that I didn't get a chance to snap a photo before it was...


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monday Resolutions, Early Mornings and New Furniture

I know, I know. I neglected to post an update last week on my Monday resolutions. But after working on The Plan for a week, I have new thoughts.

In an ideal world, I could dedicate specific days to specific tasks. That world, though, does not take into account school holidays, doctor's appts or really good movies on tv found while I'm eating lunch. (Those Hallmark movies always suck me in! LOL!)

Nor does the firm schedule take into account desperate knitting issues, for which I must drive 20 min. to Portland and back for advice. Or visiting elderly (and talkative) neighbors not seen for way too long.

So... I'm just going to do the best I can. I love the idea of having everything cut and dry and in my head, I'll still try to stick a little bit to The Plan, but it's just not practical.

The one thing that has worked, without fail I might add, is that I've been up before 7am every morning. I do chores and help the kids get up and out so by the time Emma leaves just before 9am, I'm ready to sit down and start focusing. I've essentially given myself two extra hours every day! Ahhh, the gift of time... LOL

We bought a new couch and love seat last weekend! After almost a year of searching, I finally found at our local Super Store a set that matched our criteria -- smaller, not overstuffed, not cream-colored and not squishy soft. I personally love the squishy soft part, but Scott couldn't sit comfortably on them anymore.

The girls helped us move the old couches, put the legs on the new ones and arrange the cushions. And let me tell you! They have been *loving* the giant boxes the couches came in! I'll snap some pictures to post next time they're playing in them.

I have to say that Craigs List is my friend. Not two hours after I posted our old couches for sale, I had an interested party. We're still trying to coordinate times for them to come look at them, but I'm hopeful. And the best part? We got an incredible price on the new furniture and can get good money for the old stuff. So we'll end up paying only about $200 for our new couch and love seat! Yay!!!

(Notice the knitting on the table... that's the beginning of my first prayer shawl!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Deliciously Reviewed: I Feel Bad About My Neck

If you're a woman and you haven't read this one already, go to the library and READ IT NOW!

Nora Ephron captures the spirit of the aging woman perfectly! (Or so I imagine, being that I'm only 35.) Her collection of essays cover a myriad of topics, always giving capricious perspectives on inevitable issues like mysteriously appearing stomach rolls, eyes that can't read prescription bottles and the art of attempting to exercise when you're over 50.

Ephron's anecdotes open her life for her readers. She doesn't portray herself as a Martha Stewart, clothed in perfection, but lays out her short-comings and mistakes as experience for the future. Married three times, paying too much for rent, imaginary love affairs with chefs and presidents... Her adventures make my life seem positively plebeian.

But my favorite essay of all is entitled simply "I Hate My Purse". Ok, seriously! What woman can't relate! Ephron captured the new crayon box sense of promise that we all feel when we buy a new purse... I'm going to be organized! I'm going to put all receipts right here! I'm going to put my cell phone back in the holder every time I use it! I'm going to put my keys in this pocket so I'll never lose them again! But wait! Here's a pen holder and a mini change purse so I'll be even more organized! My life is going to be easier! I'm going to be happier! Oh joy!

And then...

It never



Alas, I feel deflated just thinking about the promise and disappointment of a new purse.

At any rate, read the book! It's a quick read, easy enough to read while you're pumping gas or standing in line or pretending to listen to your eight-year old tell you yet again that Bobby in school picks his nose.

I'll wait for the thank yous...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Deliciously Promised: An Accounting of Day Two

Delicious Disclaimer: Read Monday's post (if you haven't already) before you read this one!

Day 2 was a checkerboard of silk and burlap.

The days started out smoothly, but hit a rough patch when the website I need to access for work was down for three hours.

I didn't want to immerse myself in writing my book. Murphy's Law dictates that as soon as I did, the site would come back up and I'd have to switch hats again.

So I spent two hours web surfing, doing the girls laundry and eating lunch. Basically, putzing around being annoyed with myself for not being more productive. I finally decided to go to Target (even though it wasn't my errand day) to pick up a few things. But there in the hairbrush aisle I found another silky square! I ran into my wonderful friend, Amanda, and her daughter, Genoa, and we chatted for a few minutes.

I rode that silky square home and kept it close while I got back to work -- the site was up again!

The rest of the day went on with more of the same ups and downs. By 11pm, I was exhausted and exasperated.

And as for today? Let's just say it was extraordinarily difficult to get out of bed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Singing Grocery Man

I was bent over the bananas yesterday trying to find a bunch that might actually ripen this week. A man walked behind me singing out loud (and I am *not* kidding you) "It's time to get groceries, groceries, groceries..." His voice faded as he walked past.

Assuming he was singing to baby, I looked up to peak at it. But...

there was no baby!

Nor a toddler.

Nor a child.

All he had was a basket for his groceries.

Maybe he was thinking that if he sang to them like one sings to a plant, they might grow and he would need fewer items? Is that a new way to reduce the monthly grocery tab? I might just have to try it.

o/' It's time to get conditioner, baggies, a shredder... o/' (Ok, so I'm going to Target instead of Freddie's.)

Deliciously Promised: An Accounting of Day One

If you haven't already read yesterday's post, do that now. Otherwise, this won't make any sense!

Ok, so Day One went fantastic!

I had no expectations of working on my book or for Lariat. Instead, I was happily focused on errands (Freddie's, post office, library), cleaning (laundry, kitchen, other various things) and volunteering (in Emma's class, Girl Scouts).

I also had a yummy dinner (chicken caesar salad) on the table before the Girl Scouts came over and made time to practice my knitting before I went to bed at a semi-decent hour!

Yay, me!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Another set of Monday morning resolutions...

It seems as if every Sunday night I think about what I should have accomplished the previous week and didn't. I always end up vowing that starting Monday, I will get up earlier so I can better utilize the swift hours of the week, be more organized and accomplish everything on my never-ending list. (If I ever actually figure out how, I'll be sure to let you know!)

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:45. I tried to get up at 6:30, but Scott kept pulling me back into bed to keep him warm. (Hey, that's one of those wifely duties I was talking about last week, right? LOL!)

It's now 9 am and I really do feel as if I've accomplished much during the past two and half hours. Success already! Woohoo!

  • Made Hayley's lunch
  • Got her breakfast
  • Saw her off to school
  • Emptied the dishwasher
  • Loaded it up with the few things in the sink
  • Boiled some eggs so I can have egg salad for lunch
  • Contained Emma's flighty enthusiasm for everything but the task at hand
  • Got her breakfast and lunch prepared
  • Finished scrubbing the waffle iron that Hayley didn't finish yesterday
  • Selected and printed 10 photos of Emma that she needed for school today
  • Read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh with Emma
  • Saw Emma off to school
  • Am currently posting to my blog!
See? I have thus far accomplished my Monday resolutions! I am falling asleep in my chair, though. I have somewhat unfortunately trained myself over the past few months to stay up till after midnight. Last night, being the beginning of my new week of resolutions, I dutifully turned off the tv, put down my knitting and was in bed by 10:30.

Can you guess what happened then? Yup, you got it. I couldn't sleep. Exasperated, I finally pulled out my book light and Suduko. Two diabolical puzzles later, I thought I could sleep. Nope. I laid there for another hour. That's why 6:45 am seemed so unearthly to me this morning!

Writing my book consistently is a *huge* priority for me, but so is working again for Scott's company. Somehow I have to figure out how to do both and keep the house running, with the (insert sarcasm) added pleasure of doing the taxes. I'm thinking that maybe Mondays will be my cleaning, shopping, volunteer day, Tuesdays and Thursdays can be my work days and Wednesdays and Fridays will be my book days.

Sounds ideal, but the key is to make it happen. Think I can do it? Hhhhhmmmm.... Oh, I know! I'll make an official promise to you, dear readers. Then I'll have to give an account of my progress or lack thereof. So here goes nothin'...

I, author of Delicious As Pie, hereby declare that I will enthusiastically assume the following schedule:

Monday: Errands, Cleaning, Volunteering
Tuesday: Work for Lariat
Wednesday: Work on my book
Thursday: Work for Lariat
Friday: Work on my book

I will get up at 6:30 am to give myself more time to achieve said goals. I pledge to see this through for the week of February 9 - 13, 2009, then reassess the schedule.

In all offical capacities as judge, witness and myself,


Friday, February 6, 2009

Ma Ingalls Rides Again!

I started a knitting class last night at Close Knit, a fantastic little place in Portland. Two hours later, I came away feeling successful and totally jazzed!

Remember back in November I posted about my failings as a knitter? Well, this time around I was bound and determined to succeed. I signed up for a Genuine Beginner class and though the drive is a bit longer than I'd prefer, it's worth it.

After last fall's attempts, I could cast on well and knit a little, but I didn't know how to fix mistakes (of which I had many!) Ok, I still don't know how to fix mistakes, but I can now cast on, knit and perl!

When class was over I spread out the tiny three inch square that I had knitted to look at it. Now those of you that know me well understand that I am fairly reserved, so imagine my surprise when I actually said out loud, "It looks like actual knitting!" Others in the class were just as surprised at their own work and we all left happy and ready to knit our days away.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Altering the Mama Perspective

Laying around in a drug induced haze, watching my unparalleled husband juggle my responsibilities and his own, I've had a longer than anticipated respite.

The first few days were heavenly (except for the pain, of course.) Stretched out on the couch with a blanket and pillow, movies of my own choice played on my demand, chocolate at the ready, napping at will, stacks of books to devour, Sudoku waiting to be conquered, family on their best behavior....

For a mom, it doesn't get any better than that.

As one week stretched into two, guilt invited itself into my psyche. I tried to help around the house, but couldn't. I could only apologize over and over that I wasn't doing enough (as a mother or a wife, if ya know what I mean!) Sure, I felt bad and all, but I still didn't really want to assume responsibilities again.

But just as week three was to begin, I had a sudden burst of energy and a true desire to care for Scott and the girls. I cleaned parts of the house. (The whole thing would have been too overwhelming!) I conquered the alarming stack of bills. I endured WinCo on the Saturday before the Superbowl. I prepared not one, not two, but three meals for the week!

I was back and thrilled to be there!

Monday morning, I surprised myself by willingly getting up at 7am. Engrossed in yet another Elizabeth Berg novel, I stayed up til 2am to finish it. I wasn't tired, though, that morning and while certainly not excited to prepare school lunches yet again, I was contented to be caring for my family.

I found joy in brushing Emma's silky golden hair and searching for the always lost shoe. I had fun wrapping her up in her puffy pink jacket and helping her adjust the hood and her backpack. And, as I always do, I just loved watching her hike up those gigantic school bus steps.

Under the hot shower a little later, I started thinking about my perspective. My attitude, if you will. I really dislike the word "attitude" since it is so often correlated with negativity. But I guess that's so often apropos since frustration and resentment can so quickly color our thoughts and actions.

The tedium of homehood (my newly coined word for motherhood, wifehood and trying to work-at-home-hood) undoubtedly fosters frustration. As I've said before, washing dishes is not particularly fulfilling or inspiring. It's b-o-r-i-n-g, boring!

I see other women accomplishing so much -- publishing and receiving awards and getting raises and enjoying exotic vacations -- while I sweep the kitchen floor. Again. Having chosen this path for myself doesn't make the envy or monotony easier to bear.

But having been relieved of almost all housework, cooking and childcare duties for two weeks helped turn my perspective around. It reminded me that I love taking care of my children. That I'm proud when I actually accomplish a full load of laundry, folded and put away! That there's huge satisfaction in preparing a meal my family (yes, Scott included!) can eat.

I think I'm going to start a sidebar list: "Mundane tasks and life moments I love and find fulfillment in". It's very likely going to be one of those lists that grow over time. (Maybe all you readers out there should make similar lists so we can inspire each other!)

My mom and I talked back in November about how fostering a positive attitude can make a difference in an otherwise frustrating life. She vowed to change her perspective and has become substantially happier because of it. She mentioned it again the other day -- how much better she's been able to cope with things because she's simply trying to view things positively.

That conversation the other day was part of what got me thinking about all this. I could let frustration at the little things mount and then become discontent with the riches I have. But why would I let myself intentionally go down that road?

Hey, sometimes it happens. No denying that. I take a wrong turn and end up in a bad, bad place. But then somehow the sun comes out again and I can turn myself right around and find my happy place again.

LOL! Yes, there's even a silver lining when kidney stones are involved!