Friday, March 24, 2023

St. Paddy's Day Shenanigans

 Hello, my lovelies and a top o' the evening to ye!

I know that St. Patrick's Day is over, but I'm just now getting a chance to sit me down and update ye on the status of things as they be!

So...first and foremost...I am STARTING to feel better. I still don't have all of my energy to 100% capacity, and I'm still fighting a bit of a cough, but compared to where I was at last writing I'm doing MUCH better.

Secondly, Aaron was at the doctor yesterday and while he was still having issues with breathing and a cough from Covid he had gotten sick again as well. He has an ear infection and sinus infection, but they got him some antibiotic and even though it has only been 3 doses he's feeling a bit better already.

Now...last week in the afternoon of the 16th we headed to southern Missouri to see my family. St. Patrick's Day has always been a big gathering day in my family and every year we make the trek down to my mother's for a big corned beef and cabbage feast with baked potatoes and Emerald Isle Cake. 

On St. Patrick's Day morning the shenanigans ensued with hiding gold coins for the kids to find, which led to a gold hunt.


Aaron, Alysia and Myself Dressed In Our Festive Green

After lunch an impromptu dance broke out in the yard to some Irish music. Since I didn't have the energy to do much dancing I stayed inside and cuddled baby niece Kelly.


Dancing

Most of the kids were dressed in green, and the yard looked like a bunch of leprechauns were running around. A total of 28 people participated in the day's festivities.


Alysia and Baby Kelly Enjoying a Wee Bit 'o Fun

On Saturday morning my mom had to work, so we visited her at the park and enjoyed a visit while she ate lunch. Then we headed back home. On the way we stopped at Swope's in Rich Hill, Missouri. They have the best Suzy Qs ever, and have been a family favorite for years.

It was a fun weekend. 

This past week has mostly been spent in recuperating and doing school with Alysia. She has been studying a lot of fun stuff. This week's work has included:

  • Language Arts: Reading, cursive handwriting practice, story main ideas and sequencing and spelling
  • Math: Times tables (6-10), fraction conversion, and sums up to 99,999
  • History & Geography: The world's largest harbor cities including San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong and Instanbul
  • Science: Space exploration, Animals and in-depth classifications
  • Bible: The importance of God's knowledge and salvation
  • P.E.
  • World Cookbook: Middle East - Halva; Cakes and Pastries from Around the World
  • Art: Easter sun catcher
  • Special Unit: Our Mississippi (a unit study on the Mississippi River in order to prepare for an upcoming field trip to Hannibal in June)
  • Supplemental movies to tie into current studies: Apollo 13, Hidden Figures and Fly Away Home
All in all, it has been a very busy school week. However, it has been a fun one as well. So far our school hours for the year have totaled 990 core hours and 504 non-core hours. 

Well...I guess that's all for now. I'll talk to you again soon to update you on this weekend's adventures. Until then, have a great weekend!

Amanda

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Prayers Please

 Hello, Friends.

So I'm going to post an out of the ordinary post...and one that isn't too fun.

I haven't had anything fun to post this week, because it has been a struggle of a week. Last Sunday I woke up in pain and realized I was having a flare-up of my Interstitial Cystitis. I was diagnosed with IC a few years ago, and it is, unfortunately, an incurable bladder disease. I have been fortunate in the fact that it has not flared up often.

I fought it for a few days this week, and ended up going to the doctor, as I had a suspicion that it may have turned into an infection. They took sent it off for a culture and I waited. Then yesterday morning I woke up in severe pain that felt eerily reminiscent of the pain I felt last year during an infection that landed me in the hospital for 3 days. 

I ended up going to the ER where several tests were run including an abdominal CT. It was confirmed that it had turned into an infection, and that there was some swelling in my kidney. They did a round of strong IV antibiotics, and sent me home with oral antibiotics. My throat was a bit sore by the time I left the hospital, but I chalked that up to the fact that they wouldn't let me drink anything until they had all the test results back.

My sister and her kids were super sweet and came to see me. They brought sandwich stuff and chips for dinner and visited for a few hours. We pulled out a bunch of my old photos and we got to relive a lot of old memories. It kept me occupied for awhile so I wasn't thinking about my pain. I love them so much and I'm so happy they came to visit!

By the time they left I was sneezing and not feeling well. I was getting a bit stuffy. This morning I woke up with a full-blown head cold...again.

I am so tired of being sick. I have only had about a week's worth of days feeling at 100% since Christmas. I'll finally get past one thing and feel good for a couple days, and then it triggers something else, and here we go again. My immune system is just so low, and doesn't ever get a chance to get built up a bit before the next thing hits.

I know that God is in control. I am asking you all to pray with me for healing, and an opportunity to get my immune system built up a bit. I need to get my good health back so that I can get back to normal life. I have so many things I want/need to do.



Anyway...hopefully I'll have something more fun to post soon! Love you all!

Amanda

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Recent Cooking Adventures

 Hello, all!

We are all still working to regain our energy, while hitting an occasional hiccup. Covid was no fun, and I'm still struggling every day with energy levels, but there are days I feel a little better.

On those days this week, I have spent a bit more time in the kitchen experimenting with some fun recipes. I'll share a few of them with you, not necessarily in order completed as my days have all run together. LOL.

First we'll start off with my first adventure in making soft pretzels, which turned out phenomenally! I made the dough, formed the pretzels, boiled them in baking soda water for 20 seconds each (sets the dough AND gives it that special flavor that is unique to pretzels) and then salted with coarse pretzel sauce and baked them.


Pretzels Ready To Go In The Oven

I only made 6, and they didn't last but a few minutes after they had been out of the oven, so I'm glad I had only made a half batch of dough, as they all might have disappeared fairly quickly even if I had made a dozen.


Super Yummy Pretzels

One morning for breakfast I decided to make strawberry banana smoothies with frozen fruit. Made with Splenda, they were not only tasty, but healthy!


Strawberry Banana Smoothie

One night for dinner I decided to make gnocchi, but I couldn't decide if I wanted it in a light marinara sauce, or if I wanted a browned butter sage sauce, so I decided to make a gnocchi duo with both. It turned out well, and the gnocchi was light and pillowy. The consensus between all three of us was that we liked the browned butter sage sauce better, but they were both extremely delicious. Aaron and Alysia even got involved with forming the gnocchi after I made the dough.


Gnocchi - L: Browned Butter with Sage, R: Marinara

Also this week we visited Greece in the World Cookbook, and our recipe was Moussaka. While I didn't get a picture of that, we all liked it, and we may end up making it again sometime.

Friday night we had company for dinner. Friends Dale, Bonnie and Caleb came to bring my new piano for me. I had purchased it from one of their friends, but I didn't have a way to haul it, so they brought it to the house for me, and then stayed for dinner and games.

We had creamy chicken enchiladas, Mexican rice and ice cream. After dinner we played a few rounds of the game Pit. Since then, I have been playing the piano as often as I can find a second. I am a long way from good, and I haven't even tinkered with practicing for years, so I am super excited and am hopeful that I can pick it up and get better quick!


My New-To-Me Adagio Electric Piano


Besides doing school and cooking, we haven't done much this week. We have been preparing to follow the Iditarod for school since Alysia recently learned about it in History and Geography while learning about the Pacific states. To prepare we learned as much as possible about each of the mushers that are involved. We also watched a few sled dog movies based on true stories, including Iron Will, Togo, Balto and The Great Alone (the life story of late Iditarod 4-time consecutive champion Lance Mackey). The Iditarod started today, and Alysia's picks (Jason Mackey and Bridgett Watkins) are currently in 18th and 19th places. We will be watching progress closely over the next few days. Generally it takes 8 days to a couple weeks.

Well...that's it for now. Stay tuned for more soon!

Amanda

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Alysia's Moving Up!

 Hello, Friends!

So another week has passed and I'm trying to still regain my energy after Covid. This time it definitely hit both Aaron and I worse than last time. We were both down for days, and struggled with breathing issues. My breathing is better, but I still have zero energy. It is hard to just get through the day without a nap. Aaron's breathing is better, but not 100% yet. He has returned to work now, but is struggling. I will be glad when we are both back to full capacity.

In the meantime, I am super proud of Alysia. She has moved into a new grade. While still a bit behind, she is progressing nicely.

Let's back up a bit...

Alysia at Her School Desk

When we first got Alysia in November 2020 she was very behind in school. She was in 3rd grade, but couldn't read really at all and her grades were terrible. Yet the school kept pushing her forward in grades even though she couldn't do the work. 

In September 2021 we put her through placement testing to see where she truly tested out. She was at pre-kindergarten level on her reading, and 2nd grade level in most everything else. We made the decision to pull her out of public school, set her back to second grade with me helping her with reading until she got to where she could do it herself, and start working hard to try to catch her up.


Studying the Birth of Jesus in Bible

We decided to use Alpha Omega Publications Lifepacs. It splits the grade into 10 booklets for each subject, with each booklet designed to last 3 weeks. In addition we used Abeka Books for art with Art 3. I supplemented it with my own worksheets, projects, field trips, etc.


Good Grades in Language Arts and Spelling


Between September 2021 and now she has completed two full grades as we worked ahead through last summer. And now, she is beginning 4th grade! I realize that is still a bit behind, but if we work ahead through the summer again, we may have her caught up to where she needs to be by end of spring 2024.

Crystals Grown in Science

It has taken awhile to get her here, but we have worked hard, and her reading is doing a lot better. I am super excited about where we are heading in this next grade.

She is working on multiplication, longer spelling words, philology, world geography, botany...all sorts of fun stuff! And I think that she is starting to really see why it is so important to work hard.

A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom - Checking Over Work

All in all, although it hasn't been easy, we have definitely been successful in our homeschooling adventures thus far.

Looking back at highlights of the past grade in school, I'm reminded of how much fun we've had, which has made up for the time when things were more difficult.

Alysia's Self-Portrait in Charcoals

Here are some of our highlights...just to name a few!


Daniel Boone, George Washington Carver, Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton and Neil Armstrong...along with lots of glitter and sequins...represent Our American Heritage

As you can see, we've had a lot of fun...and most importantly, Alysia has learned a ton. There are days I get discouraged while homeschooling...days I feel like I'm not sure what I'm doing or I'm not doing good enough. But when I look back at the last year I realize how far we've come...and it's a lot farther than it seems on a day-to-day basis.


Studies in Color

Well...all in all...a successful year and another one starting. I am truly excited about what this year will bring. And the more she learns the easier it is going to be. Once she is truly fully comfortable with her reading I don't think I'll be able to stop her. She may not be mine biologically...but God knew he was making her for me because she easily could be my child. She is SO MUCH like me...which brings pros and cons. LOL.

Well, my friends...enough for tonight. I have used up what little energy I have. I pray that my energy will return soon. I have too much to do to stay down much longer.

Talk to you soon!

Amanda

Friday, February 17, 2023

Catch-Up: Warning! Long Post

Hello, my friends!

I am going to attempt to backtrack a couple of weeks and get ya'll caught up. It will take awhile, but if you will read all the way to the end you'll understand why posting has been so sporadic. Thank you for bearing with me.

My wonderful husband was preparing to celebrate his birthday at the turn of the month, and my mother and sister invited us down for the weekend. It was the first time I was feeling decent in weeks, and he wanted to go. Since we were going to be going to southern Missouri on his birthday I decided to make him a birthday "cake" the day before (February 2nd) for his dinner before he went to work. 

Now my husband is diabetic, so while he can have sugar only in small amounts on occasion, he is a major carnivore. One of his favorite meals is meatloaf with mashed potatoes. So...I decided to make him a meatloaf cake. The filling between the layers was my special meatloaf sauce. The "cake" layers were meatloaf. The frosting was mashed potatoes and the ganache was brown gravy. He absolutely loved it!

Meatloaf Cake


On the morning of the 3rd (Aaron's actual birthday) Aaron had to go get his driver's license renewed, and then we headed to southern Missouri. We stopped on the way down to get lunch at our favorite Mexican Restaurant in Butler, Missouri. (See more about it here!) 

Lunch at Tu Casa Mexican Restaurant in Butler, Missouri

My mom and sister had decided to throw a small party for him. They made cheeseburgers and chips, and my sister had even decorated a Civil War themed cake with cannon sparklers. For those of you who know my husband, this was the perfect theme for him! Overall he had a great birthday!

Aaron's Birthday Cake

We made our way back home at the end of the weekend. The next few days passed with Aaron working and Alysia doing school. She had developed a bit of a cold...nothing too bad. I stayed busy trying to get some stuff caught up.

On the 8th of February our federal tax refund arrived. I was excited to be able to get my emergency fund put back, as well as get bills caught up. It was great to get the refund, but it only took a few days to use it all, as it was all earmarked for specific items. I was able to get one bill paid completely off, as well as a decent payment on a second bill. Yahoo on the progress towards financial freedom and debt payoff!

Debt Thermometer Pay Off

A few weeks ago I had gotten another call from Miss Bonnie with another catering job...this time a church Valentine's banquet for 32 people. I was super excited, and the date was set for the banquet on February 10th. 

On February 9th I started preparing by making a large sheet cake and some sugar cookies. It was the first time I had made frosting roses and I think it turned out ok for someone who is not a professional cake decorator. The two projects and school with Alysia took the entire day up.

Sheet Cake

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

On the 10th I catered the meal at Kearney Bible Church, and it went over swimmingly. I believe everyone at the church was happy with the meal. They had a choice between garlic cheddar chicken and pulled pork, along with mashed potatoes, tater tot casserole, green beans, salad, rolls and dessert. 

The next morning Aaron and I had an early morning class at church from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Afterwards we headed back to southern Missouri as my sister had decided to host a Valentine's party on Monday and we were trying to avoid the city during the Super Bowl commotion, so we decided we were leaving Saturday and going to stay a few days.

We arrived and went to my sister's. We stayed Saturday night with my sister Amber, her husband and their 5 kids. 

On Sunday I decided I was going to provide dinner for my family as they normally do the cooking while we are down there. When they left for their church service, which is an hour from where they live, Aaron and I went to the nearest grocery store (20 miles away) and got food for the evening. I then went back to my sister's and prepared the dessert, which was a new recipe and had to set for a few hours. Aaron and I listened to the service at our church online, and then I did some light cleaning and a few loads of laundry to help my sister out. I don't get to help her often, but you can imagine how busy she stays with 5 children. I enjoy being able to help when I can.

In the afternoon I started cooking dinner in order to have it ready when everyone arrived at my sister's at 5:00 p.m. I made garlic cheddar chicken (they had never tried it), parsley potatoes, green beans and my berry mousse dessert, which is a new favorite! My mom, my family, my sister's family and one of my brother's family was there...a total of 16 people. It was super fun.

Late that evening, I started feeling pretty cruddy. I just thought I was tired...no big deal. I went to bed, and woke up in the middle of the night sick...AGAIN! 

The next morning I felt bad because my sister was up prepping for her party, and I was in bed for awhile. I finally drug myself out of bed and into the shower just a few minutes before people started arriving. Pretty much the same crew from the night before, plus a cousin and another brother's family...a total of 25 people this time. I managed to hold out for awhile, but ended up laying down and falling asleep again.

I woke up and in the afternoon went over to my mom's house while the guys continued to hang out at my sister's for awhile longer playing with my brother James' 3D printer. We ended up staying up til late into the evening, and then I went to bed. 

The next morning we woke up to rain, and a few minutes later I realized it was raining at home, too. And I had curriculum ordered that said it had been delivered. Which meant that I had a cardboard box full of boxes of books sitting on my porch in the rain. Since we were to return that morning anyway (Tuesday), we went ahead and loaded up. We had to stop by my sister's on the way out of town to get a flash drive from my niece Audrey, and we headed for home.

When I got home the box was indeed sitting in the rain. We brought it inside where the box disintegrated. The boxes inside were wet too. I didn't have much hope for the books, but when I opened the boxes, for the first time ever, the books were wrapped in plastic and they were perfectly dry! God knew they needed protection!

This was the first Valentine's Day that my husband has been off work in the evening since we got together, so we had planned on going out, but since I was sick we ended up staying in. However, my husband went out to grab something, and came back with some beautiful roses for me. How sweet!

Valentine's Day Roses

The next day Aaron had to return to work, which brings us up to yesterday morning. When he got home at 6:30 a.m. he was ok. He went to bed. He got up at 3:30 p.m., and was VERY ill. He ended up having to call in, and as the evening progressed he kept getting worse. By 11:30 p.m. he was in severe pain and had a fever of 103° F. We loaded up and headed to the ER, with fear that with the location of the pain and the fever that he might have appendicitis. They ran some tests, and ruled anything bad out, but he DID test positive for COVID. They chalked all of his pain up to that, and sent him home. We got home at 4:00 a.m.

After we got home I got a cough drop...and I couldn't taste it. Earlier in the day I had taste and smell. And then all of a sudden it was gone. We slept for awhile and then I got up and took a home COVID test...and of course it was positive. 

So here we sit...not only sick again, but both of with COVID. I feel bad for those we were around this week and pray that God will protect them from getting it as well. I'm also praying for a quick recovery for Aaron and myself. Alysia seems to be back to normal, and I'm thinking what she had was actually just a cold and not COVID. I'm praying she doesn't get it from us.

In the meantime, Aaron and I have just been hanging out on the couch this afternoon watching John Wayne movies....apparently one of Alysia's new favorite actors. I introduced her to him in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" a few weeks ago. Today was "The Alamo", "El Dorado" and now we are a quarter of the way through "McClintock". 

So...that's where we are now. I'm sitting here thanking God for His provision and protection, and praying for strength and quick healing.

I hope and pray that you are all well. I love you all and will check back in with you all again soon!

Amanda


Thursday, February 9, 2023

Recent Adventure: National Toy and Miniature Museum

Hello, my friends!

I have come to the realization that I am never going to have time to keep you guys updated on a daily basis, so I am going to have to resign myself to keeping you up-to-date with recent goings on.

Today's thoughts have turned to a recent adventure that took place last month.

One January Sunday afternoon Aaron was off work, and we had been stuck in the house for awhile since my health was not great for a few weeks. We wanted something not far away that wouldn't be overly tiring, so we decided to go to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures here in Kansas City.

Aaron and Alysia Enjoy the Toy and Doll Floor

Now let me preface this by saying that I have always been fascinated by miniatures...especially extremely well crafted ones. Recently while talking to my mother about this adventure, she shared with me that my grandmother had this same fascination, and collected a lot of miniatures. Maybe I got it from her? Anyway...

It was one of the most fun things we've done in awhile. I was truly fascinated. The entire downstairs of the museum is all miniatures, while the upstairs is all "vintage" toys. Vintage apparently means everything from 1800s to my own childhood. LOL. I guess I'm now vintage...is this what your late 30s feels like?!

A Miniature Violin Maker's Workshop Inside a Violin

Most of the miniatures are made in 1:12 scale, meaning they are made to scale of 1 inch per foot. There were so many cool things to see...and since so many things are so small they have magnifying glasses throughout the museum that people can use as they peruse the exhibits. There are also educational resources throughout the space showing how different fine miniatures are made.

Scale Comparison - Normal Size setting Vs. Miniature Setting

This is by far one of the coolest things in Kansas City to go see...a total of 33,000 sq feet with 93,000+ objects. And it all started with two women who were just collecting things they loved. Barbara Hall Marshall collected miniatures, while Mary Harris Francis was collecting dolls, large doll houses and other vintage toys. 

The ladies eventually met, and somehow an idea presented itself to start a museum. And it sounds like their husbands were happy to get more space in their houses when the collections found a new home. πŸ˜‚

Noah's Ark

Miniature Cottage with Miniature Garden

All in all - it was a great leisurely afternoon trip, and highly recommended. Now I want to start my own miniature collection!

In other news I've been super busy preparing for another catering job. This time it's for a church Valentine's Banquet of 32 people. The dinner is tomorrow. Stay tuned for more news on that! 

Have a great weekend, and I'll be back to visit soon.

Amanda

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Saturday's Date

Hello, my friends!

First off, let me apologize for my long absence. Health issue after health issue continued to plague me, leaving me dealing with one issue or another from Christmas to this past week. At long last I am FINALLY starting to get back to normal. Since it has been two weeks I am not even going to try to catch you all up on everything that has happened, but I do want to go back to this past weekend. 

On Saturday Aaron was off and I was feeling a bit better for the first time in awhile. We decided we wanted to do something, and I pulled out our date book. 

Now if you know Aaron and I and our relationship up to this point then you know that we have both been through a lot in life, and finding each other was literally a God-send. And we have both shaken off our pasts and a lot of the baggage and we find our strength in God and each other, as well as a determination to live each day to the fullest, and embrace every adventure that comes our way. 

As such, last year I ran across a book called "The Adventure Challenge: Couples Edition", and I bought it for Aaron for our First Anniversary. The traditional first anniversary gift is paper, so it fit perfectly! 

The way the book works is you scratch off a date, and whatever it is, you have to do it. It gives you clues ahead of time on what it might entail...such as leaving the house or staying home, if it is going to cost money, if you may need to get a babysitter or visit the grocery store, etc. 

Past dates have included me having to non-verbally direct a blindfolded Aaron through the process of baking a pie, building a blanket fort in the living room while making s'mores over a can of sterno and watching a romantic movie, recreating my parents first date at Corinthian Hall while wearing similar clothes, and going to the thrift store to pick an outfit out for each other and then going out for dessert. It has been a blast...things you would never think of doing on your own, but so much fun! Highly recommend!

SO...back to Saturday. We scratched off our next date adventure titled "Recipe for Disaster". 

Recipe For Disaster Date

The date entailed going to a bookstore and picking out a cookbook, and then finding a stranger to pick a recipe for you to go home and make.

Aaron and I loaded up in the car and headed for Zona Rosa to Barnes and Noble Booksellers. When we got there we stepped into the middle of chaos, as nothing can ever be normal with us. LOL.

The fire department was there, and we were like "Oh boy". Once we got inside we could easily figure out what was going on. The elevator was stuck with two young ladies inside, and the firefighters were desperately working on trying to get them out.

Fire Truck at Barnes & Noble

Fire Fighters Working on Elevator

We quickly found the cookbook section where I found a cookbook by one of my favorite online cooks, Ree Drummond (AKA Pioneer Woman). The book I chose was "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime". 

Now I had to find a stranger that looked like they might have a minute or two to help. Everyone looked like they were on a mission or were so grumpy that I didn't think I would get a good a response. But finally I spotted her...our new friend Kaitlyn. 

Kaitlyn Chooses A Recipe

I approached Kaitlyn and asked her if she might have a moment to help us with something. She did, and I explain what we were doing and all about our book. She gladly took the book and looked through it for a moment before settling on a recipe...Bow-tie Chicken Alfredo. Good choice, Kaitlyn...good choice!

After we left Kaitlyn I had another mission. Alysia has struggled with reading since we got her. I have slowly been teaching her to read, but she has never enjoyed it, and would only do it when absolutely necessary, while hating every second of it. BUT! This week she has finally took off with confidence, and has been reading daily on her own accord before and after school. She went to the bookshelf one day, picked up her first on-her-own chapter book, and started reading and she couldn't put it down. Since then she has finished that book and is halfway through another one. I am so proud of her, so I had to get her a reward. I searched out one of my favorite books from when I was a child to present her with a gift.

Charlotte's Web

Book Inscription


Ok...back to our date. We left the bookstore and headed to the Sunfresh that was closer to home to pick up a couple of items we needed for our recipe. Since I had most of it, and we took a picture of the recipe instead of buying the book, the entire date cost us about $15. 

We got home and Aaron and I cooked the recipe together. It turned out delicious, and we had a great day! Alysia was thrilled with her new book, and couldn't wait to start reading it so has been reading snippets of it in between the book she was already reading. Book included, our cost for the entire day was $25. Cheap entertainment for a day so full of love and togetherness.

I highly recommend this book for adventurous couples. There is also a singles version, but I have no idea what it holds. And I believe there is a family edition as well. Who knows....someday when Aaron and I finish this one (probably a long time from now), maybe we'll have to start that one.

Well...that's all I have time for right now. Stay tuned and in a day or two I'll fill you in on Sunday's adventure! Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Chicken Asparagus Risotto

 Hello, friends!

One of my family's new favorite things is Risotto. While a bit time consuming (you can't just walk away and forget it), risotto is super delicious and not really that hard.

I decided I would share the recipe for my most recent flavor profile creation for this super delicious meal - chicken and asparagus!

Chicken Asparagus Risotto


Before the recipe...first some risotto cooking tips!

Use unwashed Arborio rice. Regular rice does not have the starch content needed for risotto.

Secondly...have plenty of broth hot and ready for use. If you use cool liquid it will cool your cooking process down too much.

Don't chop the ends off your asparagus. Bend them near the bottom and they will have a natural break point where they will just snap off. What is left after the bottom snaps off is the best part of the plant. Then cut those pieces into 1 1/2" to 2" bite-sized pieces.

Last of all...be patient. It's totally worth it!

Chicken Asparagus Risotto

1 cup cooked chicken (can use already cooked chicken or cook some up fresh)
1 small bunch asparagus in bite-sized pieces
8 cups (2 quarts) chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bacon bits (optional)

Steam asparagus and prepare chicken and set aside. Asparagus should be bright green and still have a bit of crunch to it. Pour stock into a pot and heat until boiling and then turn down to keep warm. Add oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to a separate pan. Once melted, add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add rice, and stir a minute or two until there is a slightly nutty aroma. Pour in a ladle or two of stock. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until liquid is almost completely absorbed. Add another ladle of stock and repeat the process. Keep cooking dry and adding stock until rice is cooked properly (about 20-25 minutes). You want the grains to be firm to the bite but not crunchy. Do not overcook. Once rice has reached the desired texture add parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and seasoning to taste. Gently stir in asparagus and chicken. Plate up your risotto and garnish with smoky bacon bits if desired.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Birthday Party and Busy Weekend

 Happy Monday, my friends!

It has been a very busy weekend. Let me back up to Friday...

Friday morning I had errands to run, so I got those knocked out of the way. In the afternoon my friend's two daughters came over to spend the afternoon and evening while she worked.

It worked out pretty well for them to come over because I had to bake birthday cakes for both of them, and this way they could help and decide how they wanted them decorated.

Eszter turned 12 on December 23rd and Ruth will be 7 on January 26th. They decided to have a combined birthday party between the girl's birthdays. Eszter wanted an E-shaped Minecraft themed cake, and Ruth wanted an R-shaped Mini Brands themed cake. 

Both girls wanted chocolate, and my friend had a nifty Pampered Chef cake pan  (Click here to see it!) that makes letters and numbers by using inserts to help shape the cake. The girls got to help with the designs and both were pleased with the results.

Ruth's Mini Brands Cake

Eszter's Minecraft Cake

While the girls were here we also helped make up 9 double batches of my friend's secret hot chocolate mix (27 quarts worth!). It was a busy afternoon and evening!

Saturday I had several things to get done, so while I was working throughout the day Alysia worked on school. She is ALMOST caught back up. We will hopefully finish with catch-up in a day or two.

In the evening we went to Eszter and Ruth's party at Pizza Ranch in Gladstone. My friend had rented the party room there, and ended up with a fairly large crowd. The girls enjoyed their party. After the party 10 girls were going to go home with them to have a sleepover. My friend is brave. LOL!

Ruth and Eszter Enjoyed Their Cakes (Even If Ruth WAS Tired of Getting Her Picture Taken!)

After we got home I sat down late and did our taxes, balanced my checkbook, paid bills and put together a menu plan, focusing on things we already had on hand. I just supplemented it with fresh items, milk, bread, etc. I thankfully have a freezer full of meat right now, so that helps.

I pulled a turkey out of the freezer a bit ago. I bought an extra one when they were on sale at Thanksgiving. I will be cooking it mid-week. We'll eat it as a meal, then use some of it for other recipes. The rest of it will be frozen for future use and the stock will be canned up.

I have gotten somewhat better at cooking things in smaller portions so that not much goes to waste. Aaron takes leftovers for dinners at work every day, so we hardly ever throw anything away. I also have gotten good at freezing things for future use. For instance...I baked extra rolls the last few times I have made them fresh. Those went into the freezer, and that is what we will use this week when I want rolls. If there is extra roast beef it will be frozen for other recipes. We got a dehydrator recently, so if I have extra onions, celery, etc. I can dry them. Our goal is little to no waste, and we're making steady progress towards that goal.

Here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday:
L: Beef and Bean Burritos, Chips and Homemade Salsa
D: BLTs

Tuesday:
L: Ramen Bowl with Hardboiled Eggs
D: Pesto Pasta

Wednesday:
L: Steak Soup, Biscuit Sticks
D: Pork Chops, Raclette, Green Beans, Bird's Nest Pudding

Thursday:
L: Date Lunch with Husband
D: Potato, Sausage and Kraut Skillet

Friday:
L: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Rolls
D: Jalapeno Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts on a bed of Mexican Rice

Saturday: 
L: Turkey Tetrazzini
D: Roast Beef, Roasted Carrots, Parsley Potatoes

Sunday:
L: Leftovers
D: Turkey Pot Pie

Sunday I got up at 5:30 a.m. to pick Aaron up from work as I had kept the car the night before to go to the birthday party. I was very tired as I hadn't slept well, and when we got home I laid back down. I forgot to reset my alarm, and since I hadn't slept more than an hour or so prior, I overslept. I felt bad because I woke up shortly after church started. I don't like missing church, and I kicked myself for not setting my alarm. I was looking forward to getting back since I hadn't been there the previous couple weeks because I was sick. πŸ˜”

In the afternoon I went and got my nails done. They were horribly overdue. They had grown out so long I could barely get my contacts out of my eyes without poking them. I stopped by O'Reilly's to get a headlight bulb as I found out this morning that it was burned out on my way to pick up Aaron. I also needed to change the battery in my key fob so I picked that up, too.

When I got home I decided to save Aaron the hassle of changing the lightbulb by doing it myself. I mean, that's an easy job, right? Well...technically it is. IF you have the right bulb. But I didn't. So I had to go back to O'Reilly's. Only to get home and realize I had looked at the bulb for the high beams...which were just fine. And I still didn't have the right bulb for the low beams, which is what I needed to change. 🀦 By that time it was time for Aaron to get up, so he rode with me back to O'Reilly's for the third time, and took pity on me and went in and did the exchange.

We got back home, and I was determined I was going to finish the project, since now I was nursing a vendetta. I did succeed, but I decided next time I'm leaving it to Aaron. I was just trying to help him out since he is in the middle of his work week, but no matter how simple the job, my car repairing is done for now. LOL.

I May Be A Lady But I'm Not Scared of Getting My Hands Dirty

In the evening I focused on relaxing a bit and doing some sit down planning while watching some TV. 

Today I am going to go see a friend for a minute, and then I'm going to pick up groceries. I have some laundry and cleaning to do and then I'm going to spend the rest of the day working on school with Alysia. She has some stuff to do to continue with catch up this morning while I'm busy.

Well...that's it for now. Talk to you soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Way Behind, Again!

 Hello, Friends!

Once again, I am way behind in keeping you all caught up. Life has been CRAZY BUSY! I am sure you can all relate. Instead of trying to catch you all up in one long post, I will spread this week out over a couple of days. 

My goal is to write only on weekdays, and take the weekends off. However, since I haven't been too good at keeping up with my daily posts I figured I would make a post today, and then catch you up on the rest of this week hopefully on Monday!

Tuesday we had to take our car to the dealership for a recall repair for a shift cable bushing replacement, as the previous one had been faulty and failed in many cases to allow people to put their cars in park...πŸ˜—Yikes! They also tightened a loose brake caliper bracket for us. 

Wednesday we met my mom, cousin, brother's family and sister's family for lunch. It was both my birthday, and my sister-in-law Nicole's birthday. Family friend Jose owns the Mexican restaurant Tu Casa in Butler...which also happens to be the halfway point between Kansas City and where my family lives in southern Missouri, so it's one of our favorite places to meet up. 17 of us descended on the restaurant and it was loads of fun!


Our Family Gathering at Tu Casa with Owner/Family Friend Jose In the Middle

Before the Food

After the Food

Birthday Girl Nicole

Whipped Cream In the Face...A Tu Casa Birthday Tradition

We have known Jose and various members of his family since I was a teenager. When I was a kid we would often end up at El Charros Mexican restaurant in Lamar on Sunday afternoons after church. We met Jose there when I was about 16 or so. Over the years he became one of my late father's best friends. When my dad was sick I often stopped by Tu Casa on my way back and forth and kept Jose updated on my dad's condition. He was able to go see my dad on July 4, 2021 just 6 days before my father passed away. 

Jose and My Father Several Years Ago

While at Tu Casa we all had a ton of fun visiting, both with each other, and Jose and a couple of his children. I got to play with baby Kelly a lot. She seemed to want me (and occasionally Uncle Aaron) pretty much the whole time...and I was perfectly ok with that. She kept snuggling into my shoulder to give me hugs and kisses. What a precious baby! 

We ate yummy food. Sister Amber had a present and balloon for me. Mom insisted on buying me and Nicole's lunch. Cousin Dave gave me a gift. I can't express how much I appreciate all of their generosity and love as I tried to gracefully move into my 37th year. Each year is a hard adjustment for me. I do not like getting older. It was very hard for me to move out of my 20s...and now I'm pushing the end of the 30s. I wish it was possible to just freeze time yet continue living. LOL.

Once lunch was over we came home and took care of stuff here. Didn't really do much for my birthday after lunch, which was more than enough. 

Thursday was full of laundry. Since I had been sick and hadn't gotten to it like normal I had 7 loads piled up. I knew Friday and my weekend was going to be very busy, so I worked hard to try to get it all caught up. I still have a load of towels and my youngest daughter's bedding to fold (my next task after I post this), but everyone finally has fresh clean clothes in their drawers again!

Alysia is in the office/classroom working on school. Yes, it's Saturday, but we are playing catch-up, and that is the beauty of homeschool! Aaron went to pick up lunch since I have a million things to do today. I ordered soup, sandwiches and tea from McAlister's Deli in Liberty, so he should be back in a few minutes.

I can't express how much I enjoy visiting with ya'll on here. I'll update you on Friday (yesterday) and the rest of my weekend on Monday. See you then! 



St. Paddy's Day Shenanigans

  Hello, my lovelies and a top o' the evening to ye! I know that St. Patrick's Day is over, but I'm just now getting a chance to...