Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dedicated to one of my faithful readers

I wish I could find the words to explain these photos. There is a story that goes along with why I had a Kroger gift card. But it is just too hard to explain. But it makes me smile and laugh to myself. :) And I'm sure that one of my faithful readers will laugh right along with me.





Friday, February 24, 2012

Must try

The Best Chicken Ever


As you know, I am a huge fan of chicken. 


And I would like to share with you my very favorite ways to make chicken.


I could eat the whole chicken by myself. And most times I do.



I am sure you could use chicken pieces, but I like to use the whole chicken because later I make homemade chicken broth from the carcass.

So here's my version of the recipe.
1. wash the whole chicken. If you got a chicken that did not have the insides removed, then don't forget to pull those out.

2. in a large pot or bowl (I used the inside of my large crock pot) put one cup of sea salt and one cup sugar.

3. add some hot water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

4. add the chicken to the sugar/salt water and then add more water until the whole chicken is submerged.

5. add 6 or more garlic cloves that have the paperish covering removed and have been smashed. Basically, lay the garlic cloves on a cutting board, lay a large knife flat against the clove and whack it with your fist. It kinda cracks the clove open.

6. add 2 or 3 bay leaves (just depends on how big they are.)

7. if you have some in your cupboard, add thyme also. 

8. put a lid on the pot and put it in the fridge. Let it brine for at least 2 hours. The longer the better.

9. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with a huge wad of paper towels.

10. sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken.

11. put it in a heavy roasting pan with a lid that can go in the oven.

12. ugh...this is really bad. I don't remember the exact temp or time that I roasted it. I'm guessing that it is 450 degrees for about an hour. 

Hang on, let me look it up.

Yep, 450 for 50 to 60 minutes. Internal temp needs to get to 160 degrees. 

I'll warn you. If you use table salt instead of sea salt, then be sure to reduce the measurement to 1/2 cup. Personally, I prefer the taste of sea salt WITHOUT the added iodine.  

****
 Since I'm now packing my lunch instead of going home for lunch, I have to try and plan ahead to keep it healthy. So I recently made a batch of this yummy broccoli salad and spent the week enjoying it for lunch.
http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/05/broccoli-slaw/


***
I also added these to my lunch box menu. We have a ton of chocolate at our disposal at the office and it is always very tempting. So I now have a container of these in the fridge that I eat when I need a taste of something sweet. They have such an "old woman" reputation, but if you haven't tried them, their yumminess may surprise you!


(I took them with me on my weekend visit to my sis's house. I told little J they were grape candy. He liked them :).


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Party banners new home

After the party, the girls asked if they could keep the party banners up.
Well since daddy is over 6' tall, we didn't think he would enjoy the constant ducking.
So we found a better home for the banners that we think might let them stay up a lot longer.


 Now they are decorating the upstairs landing/play area.




***
Funny little insight about this last picture....


That night when the kids went to bed, I heard J yelling for me to come to her room. She was laying in bed, looking out her door with direct line of sight to that deer head.


"Aunt A, we have a problem. We are going to have to move one of the banners."


"What? Why?"


"I like to look at that deer's head. It helps me go to sleep. And one of the triangles is blocking my view."


Some kids are comforted with blankets or teddy bears or dolls. My niece feels right at home with a mounted deer head. What can I say?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's Day Party

It has become my sister's tradition to host a Valentine's day party for her two girls and the girls in their classes.
Little J gets to spend the day with dad.
 I went down the night before the party. I was going to hang out with little J, while the rest of the gang went out and about for Friday night fun. 
I was hoping that little J would help me finish making some decorations, but sadly he was battling a bad cold and slept all night. He missed out.
In the mean time, I finished making some cute banners.


I was going to make them using cute paper, but changed my mind. Instead I used fabric. I thought they might last longer.
I used two sided iron on interfacing and basically "glued" two different kinds of fabric to each other. Then used pinking shears to cut triangles.
They are secured onto thick yarn with tiny clothes pins. When we ran out of those we used binder clips. When we ran out of those, we used regular paper clips. 


 My sis made a cute cake. It is a Red cake that was a great idea for Valentine's Day, but did not appeal to the little girls.  :(


 As the guests arrived they started their party word search with their festive pencil. This is J's table with the iridescent star decorations. When I put out the decorations on the tables Friday night, I had the pink heart balloons stuck in the middle of the star decorations and had one on each table.


 The next morning, J redecorated her table by taking both star decorations for her table and giving C both heart balloons for her table. So C found some pretty bud vases and jazzed up her center pieces with some fake roses.
Both girls were happy with their tables.
 Even though it was not a birthday party, some guests brought the hostesses homemade gifts. I thought it was very lovely.

 My friend T had sent me these cute Love stamps. Of course, they were a huge hit with the little girls too. They used them to decorate their heart bookmarks.
 My sis had made bear cookies that the girls got to decorate with icing.
 She kept it simple and used ziplock baggies with a corner cut off. They also got to add sprinkles.
The girls had fun playing on their own. This group is a mix of J's friends and C's friends. They organized this game on their own. I  L - O - V - E that they played together!!! At the beginning of the party it had been very segregated. 


The rest of the party guests were upstairs destroying playing with the toys.   


All in all, I think J and C, and all of their guests had a wonderful time. 


Just like all parties, the clean up is always a drag. So J and C were given a challenge. We set the timer for 15 minutes and they did a sprint race to clean up all of the toys. My sis and I did the downstairs while the girls did the upstairs. It was the least painful cleaning up sprint that they have ever done.


I hope your Valentine's Day was as memorable!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Photo booth fun

I went and hung out with J and C over the weekend. We joked that it was our Super Bowl party, but we didn't have any idea who was playing, nor did we watch any of it.


I brought my laptop to work on finishing up a little design project for J and of course the kids were excited to see what I was doing. After I finished the project we had some fun with Photo Booth. It is always a fun kids activity.









Sunday, February 5, 2012

Citizenship

I should be folding laundry or cleaning the bathroom or finishing the dishes. But instead I'm kicked back in the recliner, watching Psych and writing a blog entry. I lead such an exciting life :).


Year's ago I learned the Six Pillar Shuffle as part of some volunteer work I did with CHARACTER COUNTS! My friend MaryAnn and I would teach it to lots and lots of grade schoolers every year during CHARACTER COUNTS! week. It has been etched in my mind.

  • Twist is for Trustworthiness
  • Roll is for Respect
  • Reach up for Responsibility
  • Spread our arms for Caring
  • Flap our arms for Fairness
  • Stomp our feet for Citizenship
The Six Pillar Shuffle .... is a kick ! 


Like all good songs, it also has motions. It was quite the workout.


Today's stories are all about "Stomp our feet for Citizenship."


****
Back in July one of my 4-Hers was packing up to spend a week at Girls State. 


Have you heard of Girls State? I went to Girls State when I was in high school. At the time I had no idea what I was getting into. It was just an honor to be selected, so  of course I went.


But in case you have never heard of it, this is what their web site says...
"What is Girls State?
The American Legion Auxiliary believes that training our youth about the basic ideals and principles of our system of government will help to ensure the survival of our republic. Through a unique citizenship training program, Auxiliary members teach the youth of our nation to understand, comprehend, and appreciate their roles as United States citizens.


Elections are held to fill city, county, and state positions. Activities include legislative sessions, campaigning, party rallies, debating, and voting. The citizens also receive instruction in Parliamentary Procedure. This "hands on" method is unique and extremely effective. Girls State affords participants an opportunity to live together as self-governing citizens by informing them about the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship and hopefully encourages their participation in the democratic process as they progress into adulthood. Other activities include journalism, singing, talent shows, field trips, group devotions, and patriotic ceremonies. "


So back to the original story....


My 4-Her K was packing up to head to Girls State and I happen to be at her house for dinner, right before she left. We got to talking about what to pack and what the week would be like. She mentioned that she wanted to run for the top office of Governor.


Well, that was so exciting to me for two reasons. 1. Because it was a great leadership opportunity with many challenges and 2. because I ran for Governor when I was at Girls State.


So we chatted a long time about my experience, what she knew about it and what she was planning. She was headed down there with a plan. I gave her a few tips that I could remember that I wish I had known ahead of time. 


K had been talking to her dad and mom and I'm guessing a lot of other people in her life about current issues happening in the government and political scene. She tried to get insights on the issues and advice on how to deal with them. 


She has had lots of stage experience. Public speaking was no problem for her. 


She was taking supplies for her campaign and had some design and slogan ideas.


She was as prepared as she could be.


Throughout the week, I would get text messages from her mom. Updates on the voting process. K was working her way through the petition and primary and then onto the final election. 


I was so excited to get the final text saying she won!!! I am so proud of her! It is a huge accomplishment and honor. 


To add to my pride, I was pleasantly surprised to find out her hometown realized the huge honor also.


This is what now welcomes visitors to town.




I am sure that this will not be the last time we see her name in the public's eye. 


****


My next story is not so grand, but citizenship none the less. 



This is my self portrait taken after I donated blood.
I'll spare you any photos of the mark on my arm.
The photo that would have been better for this story is the one of me pale as a sheet of paper. 

I was feeling well during the donation process. I lounged back and read my book. I had a great "nurse" who  stuck me very painlessly. 

The problem began after I had filled the pouch and they took off the arm pressure band and took out the needle. I was still reading my book while all of that was happening. So I know the reaction was not because of nerves. I felt a rush to my head and then I broke out in a cold sweat and got a little nauseous. 

Of course my "nurse" went into action. The head of the lounge was put down, the feet were put up. An ice pack was put under my neck. When none of that helped, I was instructed to cover my mouth and cough hard three times. (I'm not sure what that was suppose to accomplish, but at the time I was so weak that I could barely cough.) Next came the brown paper bag. They had to hold it over my mouth while I laid there with my eyes closed, breathing slowly and sweating up a storm. My face was covered with droplets of sweat and my clothes felt soaked. The last thing they did was went and got a fan to blow on me. 

Once I finally felt strong enough to sit up, I made my way over to the refreshment table. I drank a bottle of OJ, a big glass of water and ate a cookie, clementine and bag of trail mix. It took me at least 30 to 40 minutes sitting there before I felt strong enough to walk out to my car. 

When I got outside, I was freezing in my damp clothes. I came home, curled up in a big comforter and slept for an hour. My brother turned up the heat for me to try and get warmed up.

It was a rough way to practice good citizenship. I'm not sure if I can do it again. But after reading the long list of restrictions of who is allowed to donate blood, it made me wonder how many people are really able to donate blood. I have a feeling that there are less people able to donate blood then there are who can't. I won't go into details. But if you have ever donated blood, then you know what I'm talking about.

On a good note, my iron count was 16.7. It has to be above 12 in order to donate and the machine stops measuring at 19. The "nurse" was very very pleased with my count. :) My mom will be jealous.