Friday, March 23, 2012


It's been one of those weeks.  The kind in which you're ready to move to a new state (if not a new continent) under a new name and start over.  Preferably without children, some of the time.  [Please note, NO!! I do not mean that seriously.]  My church is preparing for the Easter music season, with plenty of rehearsals, my school has just left contest season and I'm getting ready to start pops music.  The students will love it, except for the fact that they cannot all be sopranos and therefore cannot all sing the melodies they have heard on the radio.  They will occasionally have to sing... gasp... harmony!!!!!  I know.  What a cruel music teacher I am.

On other fronts: my cross-stitched stocking has had to take a back burner as my usual sewing time has been taken up by escorting an almost-three-year-old back to bed on a very consistent basis.  She really started doing this the month or so before David was born and we "fixed" the problem by giving her a nightlight and letting her keep her bedroom door open.  Since then she's been up maybe 2-3 times a week after being put to bed.  And then daylight savings time arrived.  It is no longer dark when she goes to bed and I am the horribly mean mommy who makes her go to bed at her bedtime, not when it gets dark.  I just can't win these days!  She comes up with every imaginable excuse to get out of bed and refuses to go back to bed on her own.  It's been exhausting.  On the other hand, as I type this she has not yet gotten up tonight, so a collective knock on wood would be appreciated :)

I also discovered another really great chicken dish that I wanted to share.  With photos even!  John was giving me weird looks as I took a picture of my dinner plate before eating, but it was worth it.  I even considered being one of those really awesome bloggers who takes a picture of all the ingredients before you start, but then I realized it wasn't worth getting all those extra dishes dirty just so I could show how it started.  Not to mention I would have to clean a space in my kitchen to take said photos.  You'll just have to survive with the finished product: Peachy Chicken

What's even better about this is that it's basically a one-skillet meal so clean-up is relatively easy.

What you need:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used full breasts and cut them in half)
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
1 Tbsp. butter/margerine
1 can (15 1/4 oz) sliced peaches, undrained
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C orange juice
1 envelope onion soup mix
Hot cooked rice (optional)

Brown the chicken in both thte oil and butter in a large skillet over med. heat.  Move the chicken to a plate and keep warm.  In the same skillet, pour in the peaches with juice, brown sugar, orange juice, and soup mix.  Bring this mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat and return the chicken to the pan.  Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Serve over rice, if desired.

I really liked the chicken, Jocelyn really liked the peaches, and John liked the whole meal.  David had no opinion, that I'm aware of.

So.  I'm looking forward to a hopefully relaxing weekend that will seem much longer than it actually is.  Happy Friday!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ultimate Grilled Cheese

No, this is not in reference to the Food Network series.  This is just my opinion.  But wow.  Anyone who is a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches needs to try this dish.

1 tube refrigerated crescent roll dough
4-6 slices each muenster, swiss, monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar
4-6 ounces cream cheese
Sliced pepperoni (optional)
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Sesame seeds

Using half the tube of crescent rolls, seal the seams and press into the bottom of an ungreased 8x8 baking dish.  Cover with 4 slices of each cheese and top with the cheddar.  Slice the cream cheese into about 1/2" slices and place on top of the cheddar.  Cover with pepperoni, if desired.  I'm not a fan of either cream cheese or pepperoni, so I put these on John's and Jocelyn's portions and just added an extra slice of the muenster and jack cheeses on my portion.  Cover with the remaining crescent roll dough, again with seams sealed.  Brush the top with the melted butter and top with sesame seeds.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  It is extremely cheesy and melty and gooey and just fantastic.  I'll take pictures next time... it was devoured before I could get any!

Hope you enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from a recipe found in "More Fast Fixes With Mixes".

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Easiest Chicken Dinner EVER!

It's been a crazy couple of weeks at our house.  And at work.  And at church.  And for life in general.  Progress is being made on my cross-stitch stocking, although I've had a couple days when I completed work and it didn't look like I had done anything.  I've read several books, but left the list lying around somewhere.  I'll find it eventually.  A couple good ones, a couple "meh" ones.  Nothing I hated, but nothing that blew me away.  Lots of different dinners, especially some of my old stand-bys from my childhood days.  I'll post on those eventually.

But then tonight.  I got back from school today and realized I was supposed to make dinner!  Ha!  So here's what I did:  I put a couple chicken breasts in a ziploc bag, added around half a cup of parmesan cheese (just the cheap, grated stuff), and a whole bottle of Italian dressing.  Mix in the bag, marinate in the refrigerator for a couple hours, bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.  I served it with ranch [instant] mashed potatoes and some steamed green beans. Oh my goodness.  John took one bite and declared it needs to be a repeat meal.  And for him, that's fairly high praise.  Jocelyn had seconds on both the chicken and the "papaytos".

A word of warning.  The marinating mixture does not look all that appetizing.  And in my opinion, parmesan mixed with Italian dressing does not smell all that appetizing.  But the cooking (baking?) smell was incredible and the fact that it's in the refrigerator covers a lot up.

But it was an incredibly easy meal to do and we really enjoyed it.

Happy Almost-Friday!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Catching Up on My Reading

I've finished four books in the past couple weeks and I'm quite proud of the accomplishment.  I should admit that I am a very fast reader and all of the books I read were by choice and so I was looking forward to all of them.  I know a couple people who do the reading challenge at the beginning of the year where the reader picks 12 (or so) books that he or she wants to finish over the course of the year.  At the end of the year the list is examined for what was completed and what wasn't, and also additional books that were read but weren't on the original list.  I would fail at that kind of challenge because I read the books that appeal to me in the moment.  I suppose I could challenge myself to read a certain number of books, but with two children I can't guarantee anything.  So I will continue what I'm doing :)
So my recent books:
Crossed, by Ally Condie
Summary by
In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

My opinions: First, this is the second book in a series.  I finished the first book last year and I have to say that I finished it and I wasn't sure if I liked it or not.  Even weeks later I hadn't made up my mind about it.  So when this book came out I checked it out from our school library and brought it home and it sat on my bedside table for months.  I finally finished the books I "wanted" to read and tried to talk myself into reading this.  I picked it up and was immediately drawn into the characters.  The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Cassia and Ky as they travel through this dystopian society in which children are "matched" [the title of the first book] by the people who run the society.  Cassia was "mistakenly" matched with two people, one of whom is Ky, who should not have been in the matching system to begin with.  I really liked the layout of this book as opposed to the last one.  It leads into a third and final book.  While I enjoyed this book more than the first, I was still not overwhelmed by the book.  I will read the third book because I can't just leave things unfinished, but I'm hoping this last one will be more impressive.  I give it 3 stars out of five.

Book 2 - The Weight of the Sky, by Lisa Ann Sandell
Summary by
Sarah, like every college-bound junior, deals with constant pressure from teachers, friends, and parents. Besides that, she s a marching band geek and the only Jew in her class. So when she gets a chance to spend the summer on a kibbutz in Israel, Sarah jumps at the opportunity to escape her world. But living in Israel brings new complications, and when the idyllic world Sarah creates suddenly shatters, she finds herself longing for the home she thought she d outgrown.
This lyrical novel beautifully captures the experience of leaving behind a life that s too small, and the freedom of searching for a place with a perfect fit.
This book was okay.  It's nearly 300 pages read more like about 75 because it's all in free verse.  I'm not a huge fan of free verse, but I've read others that weren't bad.  The characters were not very developed, the plot was not overly logical to me, and I didn't agree with how the plot played out at the end.  The Jewish religion was very prominent and was examined by the main character as she travels through Israel.  Again, it was okay, but I probably won't search out anything else by this author.  I should add that the reason I read this book to begin with was because I needed something to read while I was doing some other things.  It's not one I would have picked up on my own, but it was available when I needed it.

Book 3 - Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
Summary by
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love

I started this book and didn't realize that it was the start of [yet another] trilogy.  It's also another dystopian society book which I have enjoyed.  I wasn't thrilled with the writing, but the story was good.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had known there was more to come.  Full confession: I like books that wrap up with a nice little bow.  I don't have to agree with the ending, but I want the questions to be answered.  I finished this and that is NOT what happened.  When I returned the book the next day, very disappointed, my school librarian let me know that there was more to come.  Lo and behold, the next book came out last month!  I will be looking for it very soon.  Overall, after learning there is more to come, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book 4 - she said/she saw, by Norah McClintock
Summary by
Tegan was in the backseat when her two best friends were gunned down in front of her. Was it an argument over drugs? An ongoing feud? Or something more random? Tegan says she didn't see who did it. Or know why. Nobody will believe her. Not the police; not her friends; not the families of the victims; and not even Kelly, her own sister. Is she afraid that the killer will come back? Or does she know more than she is saying? Shunned at school and feeling alone, Tegan must sort through her memories and try to decide what is real and what is imagined. And in the end she must decide whether she has the strength to stand up and do the right thing.
I enjoyed this book.  A lot.  At just over 200 pages I expected it to take longer than it did.  The chapters alternate between the two sisters.  Kelly sees life from the perspective of a movie director and her chapters read like scripts, complete with action cues, monologues to the camera, and flashback scenes.  Tegan simply narrates her own chapters and presents her side of the story.  Throughout the book the reader does not know what, if anything, Tegan saw.  As a reader of many different books, I had a couple ideas of where the plot could go and I was partially correct at the end.  There are not many plot twists, and I thought the behavior of Tegan's schoolmates was very passive, considering the circumstances.  Maybe that means I've been reading too many violent books.  I can't see that being the situation in "real life".  I would give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.