Saturday, October 27, 2012

Baked Mushroom Chicken

A recipe (and picture of the results!) I copied from "www.tinycooker.com" because it wouldn't pin onto Pinterest for me! This recipe is super close to one of my favorite things to get when we go out to eat at the local Family Restaurant - the "Mediterranean Melt" sandwich, but without the bread, which I'm not eating anyway.

I made a couple of small modifications because I wanted some green peppers & chopped green onions in there too, but the basics are the same. I never would have thought of pancake mix to make the coating on the chicken... not positive if I am really going to use that part, but if I do, I'll let you know how it turns out! Either way, it looks amazing to me & I can't wait to try it out with the additions... I may add some chopped garlic into the soup mix too, for a little zing. :) If you do try it, let me know what you think!

Baked Mushroom Chicken


Ingredients:

1/2 c pancake mix
8 boneless chicken breasts
1 can Cream of mushroom soup
1 package onion soup mix
1 soup can full of milk
1 lb (or more if you want!) mushrooms thickly sliced
1 bunch of green onions
1 pepper, chopped (if desired)
Parmesan cheese is what they called for in the original recipe, but I may use Mozzarella instead -it melts better & it's cheesier & I love the taste of it. :)

Cooking Directions:

1. Mix salt, pepper and pancake mix.
2. Shake chicken in mix and place in baking dish 9×13. Spread mushrooms over chicken.
3. Mix soups and milk and pour over chicken and mushrooms. Sprinkle chopped peppers & green onions on top of the soup.
4. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 1 hour in 375 degree oven.
5. Then uncover and sprinkle with cheese (whatever kind you think is best).
6. Bake uncovered 15 min. Serve.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quilt pics

This is the Paintbox Quilt I found on Pinterest, BUT Pinterest won't let me re-pin it, so here it is. I LOVE all the color on this one, and I think I could design my own. Cool how the inside box is off-set so it isn't all just super square & aligned... May have to Google this one to see if I can find the pattern...
Crazy Quilt idea... AWESOME! :)
Star block - I'm so in love with the colors/pattern of this - with sashing, it will be GORGEOUS! :) Must get some software to design my own stuff!!

I just need a place to post awesome quilt ideas I've seen, so this is it! I want to be able to pin them again on my own Pinterest. :) Watch for new additions here!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Simply Succulent!

I'm in love all over again! I found a pic of a turtle on Pinterest (my other addiction) made of moss & succulent plants. Rumor has it he can "live" for upwards of 10 years if I take care of him & let him hibernate in my house over winter. This will NOT be an issue - I think he will be great to have around. <3






I ordered the metal form, then filled it with moss & wrapped it with copper wire (although I'm sure any wire will do - I just thought the copper might get that green patina as it aged so that I wouldn't notice it). Making holes in the moss & wire was a bit challenging, since each of the plants had a good size root ball... I'm hoping they live because he is so dang CUTE! It took about an hour & 1/2 or so. I may have to make another one sometime so he has a sibling!

The only thing I forgot was eyes - some little ones from Jo Anne craft store or something. Then he will be complete! I just need a name... I was thinking Spike, and that's the same one that a friend suggested too... I want to think it through before naming so I find "THE" perfect name.
<3 I love him... :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spinach & Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipe

I made the YUMMIEST dinner tonight. My son (usually the pickier one), Ryan, loved it & "cleaned his plate"!! So, I'm putting the recipe "out there" for you all to try if you like. :)



Spinach & Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipe

  • 4 - 6 large marinated, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I had 4 & the ones I ended up with were HUGE & perfect for stuffing - from the meat counter, not frozen ones)
  • 1 block of cream cheese (I used the lower fat Neufchatel cheese instead)
  • 1 package of frozen spinach (thawed & dried a bit)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c of sour cream - to soften it a little & make it easier to mash it all together.
  • slices of Swiss cheese (I used 3 - 4 smaller ones cut from a block instead of deli sliced)
  • Lowry's Season Salt

Cut a slit into the chicken breasts on the side, going pretty much the full length of the chicken breast, but not cutting all the way through the other side.
In a bowl, mix cream cheese & spinach, and warm in the microwave just to soften the cream cheese a little. Add in sour cream a bit at a time, only as needed to be able to make a kind of paste with spinach & cream cheese. It should be like a stiff cheese dip in consistency.
Put the "paste" in the chicken breasts - try to tuck it back in as far as you can - it actually will expand & overflow out of the breast as it cooks; Place stuffed chicken in an oiled (Olive Oil) 9 x 13 pan. Put slices of Swiss cheese across the top of the breasts (to taste), sprinkle with Lowry's Season Salt & bake @ 385 until chicken is cooked through (it took mine about 45 mins - keep an eye on it!).
I served mine with fresh, broiled asparagus... it was GREAT!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Please Don't Say Anything Nice To Me

Please, don't tell me anything good about me or my teaching. I can block out the hurt and pain of the negatives most of the time - sadly, I have grown used to it (due to politics & negative media, not because I am a sucky teacher!); However, kindness and compliments get right through to my heart, and I guess my heart is attached to my tear ducts. It keeps making me cry to hear it - I don't know if I can stand it one more time. I'm too used to hearing the opposite, I guess. And sometimes, just... sometimes I don't know who or what to believe anymore.
I don't know what my problem is. I'm mad, heartbroken, frustrated, & I keep crying at random things at random times. I just keep hoping no one else sees it, somehow. Maybe it's getting the crap beaten out of me & my colleagues on a daily basis in the media. Maybe it's people bashing me and my profession every time I turn around. Maybe it's frustration that I have become the scapegoat for all of Wisconsin (or the country's) economic woes. Maybe it's how I don't hear anything good about teachers - only about how one teacher abused a student, how another one was caught with a prostitute, how a 3rd (a principal, no less) has used his school account to buy $17,000 of random personal crap. Almost never about the teacher who spent hundreds on his students because they couldn't afford supplies. Almost never about the teacher who spent the entire summer in getting her room ready & studying curriculum so she was ready to reach every student who crosses the threshold. Certainly not how I will be living on at least $3600 less this year while some senator complains that he can't make ends meet on his $175,000 salary. I can barely pay for the gas to get to work after the bills, school loans, mortgage, & groceries are paid for every couple weeks. And if you do see that kind of an article, then spend time reading the comments, it's a litany of ills that the public has suffered at the hands of all of their rich, benefit-touting teachers & the belittling of the author of the article for saying ANYTHING positive about such horrid people as teachers. We are the leeches of society. We don't do anything worth being proud or happy about. We are sucking the life out of everyone & everything with our high pay & benefits, which apparently we don't deserve, even though we are professionals trained at a university just like every other professional whatever out there who makes six figures and get some benefits on top of that. I think it is great that they get that. Working people deserve it... unless they are teachers.
That is what we hear and KEEP hearing every day. Well, I'm here to tell you... I am not the problem. But no one wants to hear what I have to say - I'm just a damn teacher. And I'm heartbroken. And it keeps getting worse every day. And I'm one of the lucky ones - I work in a district that is supportive of teachers and what we do. My colleagues are amazing people and fabulous teachers who make a difference every day. Our superintendent, principals, & school board are invested in what we do and WANT to be involved in making school a good place to be. They spent time on Tuesday telling us in our back to school breakfast how the things we do for kids is to be commended. That the things we do for kids make a difference. That the things we are doing are right, moral, and have integrity, in spite of the way society & the media portray us and the things we do in our schools. In spite of the way we are being villainized on a daily basis. And I cried. And I tried not to let anyone else sitting on the cafeteria benches for 2 1/2 hours with me see it - because I didn't understand why it happened. They just said some nice things about us, after all...
Then on Wednesday, we were required to go to a speaker. We went to listen to Jamie Vollmer - a business man who used to tell schools how they need to run like a business, get more efficient, but was "taught" by a veteran teacher that there is no way to really do that. He now continues to give speeches to teachers & probably anyone else who will be willing to listen, but it is a very different message than his original - he has been in schools to observe and work with students & teachers and he has seen what goes on there now. (I wonder if he gets much "outside the profession" work - not many people want to listen anymore.) The entire district was required. Like, I got back, and the UPS guy was going crazy because he had to have someone sign & there was not a soul to be found - I got the privilege. LOL! Anyway, nobody really wanted to go - we have so MUCH we have to do at the beginning of the year to get ready, but we all went. I felt like I would be listening to him preach to the choir, but we were told to be there, so we all went. And he was absolutely amazing to listen to. I am so thankful that I went, listened, and took the time out of my schedule of "things to do" to let him give us his message to schools. He talked to us about the power that we do have. He talked to us with respect. He talked to us as professionals. He talked to us like we actually have value. And I cried. I cry as I write this. And I'm not sure why...
But I think it is because someone out there "gets it" who ISN'T a teacher. Someone actually gives a damn. Someone feels like what we do is valuable. And for me, he validated the reasons I became a teacher in the first place, in spite of my initial reluctance to go hear him and give up the time I so desperately needed to spend in my room to get ready for parents & students coming in the next morning. It was worth getting up hours early the next morning so I could keep working in my classroom, then spending 13 hours at school getting ready, meeting, greeting, answering questions about new math curriculum with parents, and making students feel welcome and comfortable in their new grade, in their new math class. It was worth the tears I cried as I listened to him because it made me remember why I was there at school on a beautiful August day again. It took my focus off of politics and media attacks. It took me out of the Democrat vs. Republican polarization that is happening in our country. It let me feel free of the hatred that even some of my extended family apparently feel and express about teachers, if only for a while.
I do what I do because I love my job. I love my students - even on "those days" when prep time comes and I have to close the classroom door for a moment of solitude because it was hour after hour of insane busy-ness - no time to pee, hour after hour of me working my ass off to get kids to understand, learn, and just TRY, and hour after hour of some kids not living up to their potential when I know there is genius inside those heads. And I know I will be back the next morning to try again. Even if the bad things AND the good things make me cry. Because kids matter. Because it is the right thing to do. Because I love my job & because, most importantly, I love my students.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Still Fat... Yeah, I Said It, FAT

So yesterday I turned on the computer & was reading the "news" on my AOL homepage. And in between the "Dougherty Gang Capture" and the "Senator's Craigslist Scandal", I saw blurbs regarding Duchess Kate's wedding picture being photoshopped to make her look thinner (um... she is already a size 2 - WTF?!?), "My Mom Was Fat, So Was I (but now I'm not - just look at me & how I did it, I would assume is the rest of that sentence)", and finally, how The Gap has mannequins that are anorexic-sized and how they are "promoting anorexia" to fit into their clothes and people are "protesting". The thing is, this gives their stupid ass jeans the publicity they probably created themselves to show how thin the jeans make you look... then everyone buys their damn clothes to look "in-style", so the protests are a moot point. And if I went & joined a protest, it would be "because I'm fat and can't wear their clothes so I'm jealous & pissed" or some other lame thing. Not because I think it is wrong to push excessive thinness on our kids & society. I know a girl who is anorexic & trust me, it's not a "non-issue" - it's a huge ass health issue. And I love her & don't want her to die because Gap thinks it is a good idea to have pants with a leg diameter of 5 inches or some ridiculous thing & they promote their "skinny jeans" as the new cool thing for fall. It PISSES me off. And for the record, I wouldn't wear them even if I WAS a size 2 - they don't look comfortable at ALL. yuck.

Then today, I was just reading someone else's blog (Catalytic Reactions - love her!) & she was talking about how she is in an "openly fat" relationship with her husband. She doesn't expect him to bullshit her about being thin-looking because... well, she ISN'T thin - and this freaky, crazy thing happens: he accepts her just as she is & he loves her - fat & all. I think I love her husband too... :)

I'm so glad I'm not the only one being "openly fat"! When I talk casually about being fat in front of my students (& staff) and they are always SHOCKED that I would say that about myself (especially the students!). They look at each other with this "Oh my god - she actually said she was fat out loud" look - wanting to laugh, but afraid to - and I can see they agree with me, really, but then invariably, someone says, "No, you aren't, Chmel - you are beautiful!". I think they see fat and beautiful as mutually exclusive - no way - can't be both!!!
But I disagree - yes, I am beautiful... AND I'm fat. It's really not a secret - you only have to look to see. And as long as I feel beautiful, I am. And oddly, I have found that as the year goes on, those who only saw the fat at first will actually see the beautiful by the end of the year. :) How neat is that? I always hope that I am someone who can be inspirational and life changing to some small extent in making people see that being different from society's accepted "thin is the only beautiful" is cool, fun, and simply "alright". I love myself for who I am; my husband, my kids & family & true friends do too. And that makes me happiest of all...
With that said, (I think I will always be beautiful regardless of my weight) I am still working on losing weight for health purposes. Not because of societal norms. I have lined up a workout partner for when school starts again so I make sure I'm going daily to the Y again. I have managed to stay in the 220's for this whole year - I think my body is finally accepting that I will not be heading back up the scale. :) I am at 228 currently (with fluctuations, of course, but not over 230) and I am able to fit into clothes that are a couple sizes smaller than the baggy, don't-bother-to-unzip, just-pull-'em-on-because-they-are-too-big shorts I usually wear (I've worn holes in the seams of the butt pockets from over-use, but I love them). Even my jeans - I had to give my very VERY favorite jean capris with the embroidery on the bottom to Goodwill at the start of summer. Couldn't even justify keeping them - they would practically fall off when I walked & they actually made me look fatter than I am. So I've made improvements in my toning, thanks to strength training workouts mixed in with a bit of cardio (Seriously, get a trainer to learn about this - mine was freakin' incredible!! I learned so much!). I'm bummed I haven't been more faithful to going to the Y this summer (I had actually planned to go daily & then run in the evenings - totally didn't happen), but life also happens & I just haven't done it - no real excuses - as if I need to Excuse myself to anyone else anyway... I guess it just gives me an opportunity to step up to a new challenge this fall when school starts, and I'm ok with that too. I still have my totally cute "goal pants" waiting for me, and I am planning for them to fit by Christmas. When I go each day, and am good to myself with my eating of healthy foods, I THINK I should be able to be down to 200, which my doctor will be more than over-the-roof about. I'm hoping that it will make a huge difference in my health outlook now that I'm (gasp) 40. THAT would make me so happy....
But I could give a crap about fitting into Gap's jeans and having people look at me and think how thin I am. I'm feeling more like I wanna be Billy Ray in the quote from "Trading Places": "Lookin' good, Billy Ray!" "Feelin' good, Louis!"
I want to feel good & healthy & powerful... and know that this body is strong & amazing no matter WHAT. But I don't give 2 shits if you think I'm fat - I already know I am. And I'm beautiful.... I already know that too. :)
But feel free to tell me I'm beautiful anytime - I never get tired of hearing it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Idiocy In Action: The American Way?

Well, it's been ages since I wrote - sorry! I find it hard to take the time to do that sometimes!
I'm in the throes of anxiety & probably seasonal affect disorder, but the politics around here aren't helping. Wisconsin's "finest" governor, Scott Walker has proposed ending all collective bargaining for the unions in the state, including my Wisconsin Education Association union. This would open up every state employee to have no rights as an individual.
I'm going crazy with worry about how this is going to affect me & my family. And he is trying to push all of this legislation through in about a week so there is no time for people to react & work on compromise. He sees no possibility of compromise. Walker alerted the Nat'l Guard before he announced his proposal - worrying about people's reactions? Worrying about prison guards going on strike? Worrying that he is proposing something so completely radical & out there that it has no business being said, let alone pushed through our state assembly? 
Walker has no concern for how this is going to screw up our state. I officially disown his governorship over me - it's a dictatorship & he owns the assembly to get his way.  I kinda feel like Hitler started the same way... just sayin'.
I'll fill you in on everything else another time...