Friday, October 2, 2015

Chicken Paprikash

From top: 2015, 2014, 2013
We've done some ArtPrize exploring as a family. I'm not as impressed as former years, but it has still been nice to wander around our downtown area.

We took our requisite photo on the bench, by the fountain, in the ritzy hotel. From these three photos from the past three ArtPrizes, we can surmise a couple things...

-Meres' hair is never brushed, let alone, styled.
-All the kids have changed a lot in two years, but especially LC and BMV.
-Freckles for some reason feels compelled to rein in Meres. Which irritates her, and never works the way he intends.
-For the most part, my kids photo-smile rather awkwardly.


I bought 4 bushels of apples this week. The orchard I've picked at for years and years, doesn't let people pick in their apple orchard anymore. But, they do have massive bins that you can pick your apples from. And, while I do appreciate the hayride/apple-picking experience, I also appreciate efficiency. Between a batch of applesauce just for eating, one batch canned, and a candy apple bar with our Wednesday small group, we've already worked our way through almost an entire bushel. I'm thinking we will be visiting our apple orchard again this year.

School is clicking along quite well. We are all really enjoying our multiple lecture series on Fridays. BMV finished reading through the Illiad, and wrote a good book report on it. He has moved on to the Odyssey. (one of these days I will actually learn how to correctly spell that word...) We've put in a solid month of school, and I am quite delighted about that fact. Only 7 or so, more to go.

We ran our half-marathon. It was my slowest one yet, but I really was happy with how I did. My pace evened out to 9:33, which I think isn't that bad for 13.1 miles. After all, I lived to tell about it. We are signed up for a Turkey Trot in Texas on Thanksgiving day, but it is only a 10k, so we are in a more restive mode of training.

Most everyone here in our house is either still in the throes of their colds, or are experiencing allergies due to the weather changes. 

All this cooler weather has been great for making cool weather food. Like soups (Tortellini in Brodo, Potato, Cream of Broccoli), and mashed potatoes, and casseroles and other various and sundry comfort foods. Ummm...delicious!

Today's recipe is a family favorite. I used to make it a lot more when my kids couldn't have milk. It has sour cream, but not enough to bother any of my kids. 

Chicken Paprikash is Hungarian. The chicken is brazed, and then stewed in a gravy mixture. Which gets thickened, and then served over egg noodles. It is not spicy. The flavors are mild. It is good food for even picky eaters.


Chicken Paprikash on Egg Noodles
Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 50 minutes, Total time: 1 hour
3 Tbsp flour
6 to 8 chicken thighs, skin removed
4 Tbsp butter
2 envelopes chicken gravy mix
2 cups water
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
16 ounces wide egg noodles
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 tsp pepper

-Place the flour in a resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken thighs and shake to coat.
-Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken. Cook 4-5 minutes per side until light golden brown.
-Chop the onions. Thinly slice the green pepper.
-In a small bowl, combine the gravy mix and water. Stir until smooth. Add the paprika, peppers and onions.Pour over the chicken in the skillet. Cover. Cook over low heat for 40-45 minutes until the chicken is fork tender, stirring occasionally. Skim fat from the surface and discard.
-Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain.
-Stir in the sour cream and pepper into the chicken. Cook over low heat until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Serve over noodles and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Have a glorious October weekend!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Atlas Upheld

This piece at ArtPrize caught my eye. Altas bearing the world on his shoulders.

The myth of Atlas has been one of my favorites since I first read it in the Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.

The Olympians and the Titans had fought an epic 10 year war, with the Olympians coming out the victors. Since the "gods" are immortal, and cannot be killed, special punishments were devised by Zeus to keep the Titans out of trouble for the rest of eternity.

Atlas' punishment was to bear the weight of the sky and world on his shoulders. If he decided he was done, well then, so was the world as he knew it.  They'd all be crushed together. I guess this fact was enough to keep him at it. 

But, this weight of the world was a heavy burden. Eternally heavy. Atlas was trapped. Weighed down. Doubled over.

It was a picture of subservience but also a picture of great strength. Not everyone can carry the weight of the world and survive.

From this myth proceeds the expression carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Also, it is the reason that collections of maps are called Atlases. 

Kind of cool.

There are many theories as to where myths came from.

My personal theory is an actual theory. Who would have thought?

I think that myths are more legends. Stories of actual happenings that have been fairly innocently embellished through the retelling (my fish was THIS big!). Or, even further-they are stories based on truth, that has been obscured because maybe the tellers didn't exactly want to believe or acknowledge the truth. Assenting to the truth of something creates responsibility and requires a response. 

Frankly, I could write a whole dissertation on the similarities between the myths and the Bible. And it is very interesting to me how the truth is weaved into the stories, but, is somewhat masked by inaccuracies.

Which may be why people often refer to the Bible as a collection of myths. Because the stories are so similar to the myths, and in any other context (except a Biblical world view, and that the Bible contains God's words and thus is absolutely and completely true) we would view them as myths. As made up stories. 

Truth is stranger than fiction, you know.

Anyway, I am getting way off point...

Back to Atlas, and the world on his shoulders.

This myth reminds me of two Biblical truths.

#1- God is the Creator of the world. Of the universe. And He is upholding it. But, unlike Atlas, God does not carry the world or the sky on His shoulders. The burden is not sucking up His strength and essence. The weight is not weighing God down. No. God is omnipotent. He is all powerful. He is the Almighty God. 

And He is upholding all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:3)

God created all things via His words. He created everything out of nothing. And He is sustaining all creation by His powerful word. 

He doesn't even need to lend a shoulder to the weight of the world.

I think that is pretty impressive.

#2-But, even more than that-at one point in time He did bear the weight of the world on His shoulders. At the cross. Our sins. Our griefs. Our sorrows.

Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isaiah 53)

Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

And now He invites us to cast our burdens on Him. To swap our burdens for His yoke. For His rest. 

Because, don't we occasionally refer to our acquaintances as bearing the weight of the world on their shoulders? Beat down. Burdened. Don't we occasionally feel that way in our own lives? Like we are the ones upholding everything? And, if we let go, the world as we know it is going to crash and burn?

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Christ is the perfect Atlas. He isn't bearing our burdens as a punishment. He is bearing them as an act of love.

Truth is better than fiction.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pasta Puttanesca

Happy Fall, y'all!

Well, for it being fall, we still are experiencing rather summery weather here in the Mitten. Daytime temps in the mid to upper 70s. Nighttime temps in the 50s. Amazing! This is the epitome of my perfect climate being lived out before my very eyes! And no rain all week, and for the foreseeable future. Too bad it isn't destined to last...

The trees are still green as green can be. Which is very unusual here. Those in the know are predicting quite the color show come mid-October though. I am excited about that.

Five of the six of us have colds, with the parents being the hardest hit. I took a rest day on Tuesday, staying mostly in bed. I did manage to do a bit of SPD work while laid up, so I don't feel helplessly behind.

Our last major race of the season is tomorrow. Fantastic timing. Sigh...I feel like this is deja vu. I had an awful cold the 10 days before our 25k this spring. It really affected my race. But, I am going into this race knowing that it is a race, but that it is also JUST a race. And there will be plenty more. So, it doesn't have to be a personal best. It can just hopefully be run well.

Mere's Wishbone (stuffed black bear) went missing for 5 days. I looked everywhere for that bear. In closets, under couches and beds, in toy boxes, and shoe bins. Behind things. This morning I found him behind BMV's desk. His desk is in a cubby hole that is adjacent to the closet Mere's likes to set up house in. I'm not sure why I didn't see Wishbone when I looked there earlier in the week, but I am very thankful to have seen him there today. She has been carrying her bear around ever since they were reunited.

Art Prize started this week. It is the 7th year running, for this art contest in our city. Close to 2000 works of art are displayed inside and outside various business and church venues in our downtown area. I am looking forward to exploring the pieces with Mr. Hippie and the kids. 

I have a recipe for you today that is quite healthy, and is very colorful.

Isn't that gorgeous?! I love all the colors! Purple, red, green, white, yellow.

So, this is a fresh tasting dish that is meat free. Being the free spirit that I am, I substituted penne pasta for the gemelli, and multi-colored spring mix for the arugula. It was quite fantastic if I say so myself!

All the ingredients are available year round. I think that I will haul this out again in the middle of winter when everything seems so dreary and blah.

Pasta Puttanesca with Arugula
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 25 minutes, Total time: 28 minutes
16 ounces gemelli or corkscrew pasta
1-1/2 pounds (6 medium) tomatoes
1 shallot
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon peel
2 bunches (4 oz each) arugula, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

-Cook pasta according to package directions.
-Chop tomatoes into 1/2” pieces. Place in a large serving bowl.
-Peel and chop garlic and shallot and add to tomatoes with oil, capers, vinegar, lemon peel, and crushed red pepper. Toss until well mixed.
-Drain pasta and add to the tomatoes, tossing until well coated. Just before serving, add arugula and chopped basil and toss gently until the greens are slightly wilted.

Have a magnificent weekend! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

5 Monthly Subscriptions Worth Subscribing To

I love subscription services! For crying out loud-I own one! But, that really isn't the reason I love them.

I love subscription services because they automatically and regularly provide something needed (or wanted). I don't have to remember to order and reorder. My subscription just arrives-weekly, monthly, or quarterly, as the case may be.

Subscriptions often are a bit pricier than if you'd just pick up the product at your local store. But, that isn't always the case. Sometimes they are the same price, or even cheaper because of quantity discounts. With subscriptions what you are paying for is convenience, automation, and regularity, as well as the product itself. Personally, I feel that those things are worth paying for. I don't have to remember to buy razors or flowers because they are already scheduled to arrive on a certain date each month.

Not long ago, a subscription would generally fit into one of two categories-newspaper or magazine. Nowadays, subscriptions can be purchased for just about anything under the sun. Clothes, jewelry, menu plans, laundry soap, flowers, wine, razors, books, and much, much more.

Here are the subscriptions we use. These are the subscriptions I'm excited about! (in the interest of transparency in advertising-some of the links are affiliate links. You don't pay any more for purchasing through the links, but it might knock a dollar or two off my own subscription.)

Dollar Shave Club. I bought this subscription for Mr. Hippie last Christmas. It seemed like he was never shaving because either his razors were dull or non-existent. Well, this subscription solved those problems. I opted for the $6 per month plan (the 4X). Each box contains 4 razor blade cartridges, plus a sample of one of their other products. The reason it is called the Dollar Shave Club is because there is a dollar a month option, that actually comes with 5 cartridges. They are not as quality as the ones we get, but they still have good reviews. There is also the executive plan for $9 per month. Those razors are of an even higher quality. But, whatever. We both (him-the shaver; me-the kisser) are happy with the razors we get. It is totally worth the $6 per month. This subscription is paid for as you go, and can be cancelled at anytime. Also, I just switched Mr. Hippie's subscription to every other month, as he has a back log of razors still to use up. Oh, and Mr. Hippie loves the Dr. Carver's Shaving Lotion, which I just add to the next box when his is getting low. (more info here)

Wine Club. We are on our second wine club subscription. We started a couple years ago, using a subscription that came solely from one winery. While we loved their wines, we wanted to branch out to other wineries. We are currently subscribed to the National Review Wine Club. Essentially, our subscription arrives once a quarter, and contains 12 bottles. (okay, so we are giving them away to anyone we know who has any occasion in their lives.) The wine runs about $15 per bottle with a flat $10 shipping rate. With our last subscription, we were paying closer to $30 per bottle with all the fees. (shipping alcohol is expensive). I know a lot of local wineries have a pick-up your subscription option, which can run from $10-$15 per bottle. I will just say that there is not much of a chance that I'd pay $15 for a bottle of wine in a grocery store. I'm too cheap. This subscription allows us to enjoy some good wines that we'd never actually fork out for in regular life. This subscription is paid for as you go, and can be cancelled at anytime.  (More info here)

Flowers. Did you know that there are flower subscription services? I didn't-until just recently. Bouqs offers three tiers of flower subscriptions-$40 for a regular size bouquet once a month, $50 for the Deluxe, and $70 for the Grand. Bouqs has gorgeous flowers. And they only send flowers, not vases, so your money goes towards fresh flowers, and not a vase that you just want to give to Goodwill. And, I almost signed up. I had my info filled out, and I was going to save 20% by paying for the year in a lump sum. But, then, like a good wife, I decided to talk to my husband about it. Because, even $40 a month for flowers is quite a lot of money. And do you know how many Aldi bouquets I can buy with $40 every month?! Well, this discussion with Mr. Hippie got his wheels turning. And he did a really romantic thing. He went to our local florist, and asked them what kind of bouquet they could make for $25 per month. (He's Dutch. What can I say?) So, he ended up buying me a flower subscription anyhow, which I think is pretty great, because they are so pretty on my table. And he thinks it is pretty great because he looks like an awesome husband every month without even trying. Win-win. (more info on Bouqs here) Or, just check our your local florist for what options they can offer.

Laundry Soap. I know, I know. It's laundry soap. What a boring subscription! My Green Fills sends you a laundry soap bottle in your first shipment. Then all they send you is refill packets that get placed in that bottle with warm water to dissolve. Each packet is for 50 loads, and costs $6-$8. That is totally a savings. Plus My Green Fills is totally transparent about the ingredients in their products. Its eco-friendly (what-what? not non-green me?!), cost-effective and rather healthy. My package arrived the day after I signed up. Like, I signed up at dinner time, and it was here mid-afternoon the next day. Crazy fast! (more info here)

Menu Subscriptions. There is the competition, and then there is me-She Plans Dinner. Either way, a menu subscription is a fantastic subscription. And by supporting She Plans Dinner, you are supporting a small business. Regardless, the grocery list, is worth it's weight in gold. How much time do you spend assembling a grocery list every week? 5 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? How much time do you spend writing up a menu each week? 5 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? 30 minutes per week adds up to 2 hours per month. She Plans Dinner costs $5 per month. $5 per month to have the convenience of an already written up menu and grocery list? Totally worth it! Bonus...the coupon code "fall" will save you $5 on any subscription to any of our 6 plans. So, essentially you'll get a whole month free. Which is pretty awesome! (more info here)

Well, those are my 5 favorite types of subscriptions. Obviously, some are more luxurious than others. Luxurious or not, each is worth it's cost.

Do you have any subscriptions? Tell me more!

Monday, September 21, 2015

How to "Be There" When You Can't Actually "Be There"

In the past 50 years or so, technical advancements have definitely shrunk our world. Obviously, not literally. Yet, because of the internet, an average girl like me can have a global reach. (I have blog readers from all around the globe, and SPD actually has a few customers from Europe and South America) Travel is much faster and more convenient than even 50 years ago.

We have missionary friends who first went to Japan just over 40 years ago. They actually took a boat from North America to Japan. It took days (at least). Now, we can hop on a plane and be to Tokyo (from Chicago) in 12-13 hours.

But, despite the convenience and rapidity of travel, plus our long reach (and maybe because of it) we still often are quite far away from the people who mean the most to us. Our communities aren't as centered around our flesh and blood. They aren't as tangibly reachable. Generations have spread around the world for all sorts of reasons.

So close, but so far away.

Personally, I live 1200 miles away from all 3 of my sisters, my parents, and 3 of my 4 brothers. (the other brother lives right across the street, with his wife and daughters) This usually doesn't bother me in the every day rhythm of life. I've never been one to be homesick, and the distance suits me just fine.

Except for major life events (and the occasional holiday). Then the distance bites.

A death. A birth. A surgery. An illness that won't give up. That's when my family and close friends need my presence, my physical assistance, a tangible expression of my care and concern, and I am nowhere near. That's not cool.

It's also not cool that while I'd love to jump in the car and drive the miles, to lend a helping hand with meals, cleaning, and child care, generally, that isn't a feasible option.

Through trial and error, and keeping my ear to the ground, I've found that there is still stuff I can do, even from afar. Some costs me time, and some cost me money, but all tell my people that I care, even though I can't be there. And, these things are possible because the internet has made the world smaller.

1) Send a note or a card. This only costs the price of a stamp and a few minutes. And it means so much. Emails have almost replaced hand written letters. That is such a tragedy! Basically the only things I get in my mailbox are bills, advertisements, and an occasional check (hey, I'm not complaining about that...). But, it still is thrilling to me when I actually receive a card or letter in the mail. It makes my day. It makes my week! A letter or card is something that you can read, and re-read, and it brings sunshine every time. So, write that person a note. It is a very tangible way to say you care and you are thinking of them.

2) Order a meal. I don't know about you, but growing up, bringing a meal in was the way to help a new mom, the grieving, or someone who just had surgery. Bring on the jello salads and lasagna!

But, how can you bring a lasagna to someone 1200 miles away?

Well, you can't.

But, the beauty of the world wide web is that almost every restaurant has a website, and a whole lot of them let you order online. From franchises to the Mom & Pop's around the corner-it's all accessible online.

This can be as simple as a Little Caesar's pizza delivered to their house, or as elaborate as ordering Ruth Chris and scheduling it for pick up. (not that I've actually ever ordered Ruth Chris, but you get the idea.)

Online ordering allows you to factor in allergies and the preferences. It is convenient in that generally you pay for the order online-either immediately, or your card is charged when the meal is picked up.

Also, yay for not subjecting the subjects to another lasagna! Not that lasagna is bad. But, there can be too much of a good thing.

3) Send flowers. IMHO, nothing brings sunshine and lets someone know you are thinking of them than more than fresh flowers. I've used Teleflora, and also a newish company Bouqs. Pick your price point, the flowers & vase, then type in where and when to deliver. (and don't forget to sign the note...) It is really convenient (for you), and it's such a boost.

Flowers is a great option for domestic, or even overseas, thinking of yous. I'm thinking of missionary friends. They can feel so very alone going through something as simple as the flu. They often have very little in the way of a physical network, and even getting the entire family through a case of the flu can be really wearing. Send flowers. Let them know they aren't alone. You are actually reading the FB updates, and thinking and praying for them.

4) Hire a cleaning service. One of the hardest things for me to do directly after having a baby is to ignore the urge to scrub the black ring out of the tub, or vacuum my carpet. Over-doing sets new moms back, but the visual mess greeting me, totally stresses me out.

It is quite easy to find reputable cleaning services online via zip code. But, if you are leery of the reputability of a company, beat the tom-toms on social media and find out who the locals recommend. Someone always knows someone.

Then call the company and hire them to vacuum and dust. Clean bathrooms and change bedding. Whatever needs doing. Whatever you'd do if you were there.

5) Send a box of sunshine. Someone did this for me recently. They bought a bunch of small yellow items (peanut M&Ms, a notebook, a coffee mug, straws, Oreos, Eos), and sent it to me when I desperately needed some tangible encouragement. It was a surprise that brightened my day, and made me feel thought about and loved.

This can be quite an economical thing with a Priority flat rate box from the Post Office. For $5-$10, you can pack quite the package, it doesn't matter the weight, and it will get where it needs to be in just 2 days. That is quite awesome-I think.

6) Childcare. So, this is the one thing that I haven't figured out how to do thousands of miles away. It is a bit more complicated. We can't trust our kids to just anyone, so we can't just hire someone off the internet. That's kind of crazy. But, I think there has got to be something that would work in this category. Any ideas?

Have you ever done any of these things? Has someone ever done one of them for you? 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Colorful Chicken Fettuccine & Bullet Points

It is a rainy Friday morning. Mr. Hippie got me up early (like he does every morning). He brought me my coffee at 6:00, we talked for  few minutes, and then he headed out to a breakfast meeting.

While I kinda-sorta wish he'd have let me sleep in (or that I would have just rolled over and ignored the light and coffee), I am glad to have gotten in some early morning devotions and Sunday School prep that would have been harder to do later today. What with school and all.

Who's idea is school anyway?

Mornings really are my best time. Even though I sometimes crave the sleep.

Because of the quiet, and the lack of interruptions, I was also able to start the laundry, make breakfast for the kids, watermark some photos, AND finally get this post started...

So, here is a summary of my week in bullet points...

*We are well and truly into our fall schedule. BSF started this week for all of us. Myself and 2 kids on Monday night. Mr. Hippie and another kid on Tuesday night. Meres on Thursday morning. It's good to be back with old friends, studying the Bible.

*I've been reading Quiet by Susan Caine. Such a good book! It's all about introverts and extroverts. I love her explanation in the first chapters of how our culture moved from a character-based culture to a personality-based culture. And how that progression is evident in our school system. And how that is evidenced in the question that home schoolers inevitably get asked..."how will your children get socialized?" Not educated, but socialized. It's been rather riveting. Well, except for the two chapters I am currently wading through. They are more concerned with the physiology and biology of introversion. I am contemplating just skipping these technical chapters and moving on to the next bit-how this all plays out in real life. 

*Do you see those gorgeous quarts of tomatoes up above? I did those. On Thursday. I used to do a ton of  canning. But, due to some bad crops, it just has not been cost effective the past couple of years. This year though, I've seen some decent prices on tomatoes. Not like 5 years ago prices, but prices that I could work with. I toyed with the idea of doing some tomatoes, but life has been kind of full-what with school and training. I saw some for sale a couple weeks, and was thinking about going for them. But I just wasn't working up the motivation. I probably would have let the season pass by without canning tomatoes.

Yesterday morning we ran (literally) past a farm stand less than a mile from my house. He had 2 bushels of tomatoes, for a decent price. He said he would put them aside for me. And, so I was committed. I picked up my tomatoes, and ended up canning 34 quarts yesterday. I was reminded how much I actually enjoy canning, but also how much work it is. I was tired when I was through.

And, while I had planned to write yesterday, I just have a hard time writing when I am physically tired. It's like my mind just can't muster up the thoughts to wrestle into sentences.

*The good thing about fall scheduling is that Mr. Hippie and I are getting back into regular dates. Dates that don't involve training or races. Last night we went to a cider mill, and sampled their wares. Then we headed out to the beach and walked the pier. It was dark, but pleasant. The lake was crazy waves. The sound was amazing.

*Meres is making me laugh and groan. This week we were riding in the car. I had the windows down, and she kept rolling hers up. Because we have the "shampoo" on. It took me a pause to get her connection. Shampoo-conditioner-air conditioner. 

*We survived our triathlon. It was just as cold as predicted, and I've never seen so many wet suits in my entire life. But, it was good. I think I liked the course changes. The big hill was actually not too bad. We are motivated to try again next year.

*I've been cooking through one of the She Plans Dinner menus. The Variety Late September menu. I've made most of the recipes before, but I didn't have them all photographed, and last week I needed the convenience of a pre made grocery list. It has been fun. We've been enjoying a lot of pasta recipes.

One of which is this colorful beauty below!

Orange carrots. Green broccoli and peppers. Red peppers. So pretty!

It is quite saucy. I think you could easily add another 4 ounces of pasta to the sauce, and it wouldn't go awry. The sauce is mainly chicken broth, with some cheese, cornstarch and sour cream to thicken it up. Fairly light. But, neither gluten-free or dairy-free.

We all enjoyed it. It is perfect paired with a salad and bread or rolls.

Colorful Fettuccine
Prep/Cook time: 30 minutes
16 ounces fettuccine
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 Tbsp oil
1-1/2 cups julienned carrots
1 sweet red pepper
1 green pepper
1 head broccoli
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cups chicken broth (or water with bullion)
1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp thyme
3 Tbsp sour cream
3/4 cup (3 oz) Parmesan cheese

-Cook the pasta according to package directions.
-Julienne the carrots and peppers. Chop the broccoli.
-Cut the chicken into strips.
-Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high. Sauté chicken until no longer pink. Remove from pan and keep warm.
-In the same pan, sauté carrots 1 minute. Add the peppers and broccoli and sauté 3-4 minutes, until crisp tender.
-In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, broth, lemon juice, and seasonings. Stir into the vegetables. Bring to a boil, and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the sour cream, parmesan cheese and chicken.
-Pour sauce over the noodles and stir to coat.

Have a great last official summer weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Then and Now

Having just (already almost a month ago!) celebrated out 14th anniversary, I've been contemplating how we've changed over the past 14 years. 'Cause a whole lot of water has passed under the bridge.

-Then he had his eyes closed in at least half of our wedding photos. Now, he still has his eyes closed in half of the photos he is in.

-Then there were only 2 of us. Now there are 6 of us. From our newly minted teenager, down to our sassy 4 year old.

-Then we both had more hair. Now his hairline has receded a bit. He is nowhere near bald, but he sure feels he is balding.

-Then we rented in a one bedroom apartment, with a tub-no shower. Now we own (2/3 of the way) our own 3 bedroom home, complete with a shower.

-Then we did our laundry once a week at the laundry mat. Now I do the laundry several days a week in my own basement, with my own state-of-the-art appliances.

-Then an 8x8" casserole would feed us 2-1/2 meals. Now an 8x8" casserole feeds us about half a meal.

-Then we were in the minority as far as married siblings. Now, over half of my siblings, and all but 2 of his siblings, have tied the knot.

-Then we were happy to stay up to all hours. Now we call it a night at about 9:30.

-Then I'd crawl out of bed at 4:30 three times a week to swim by myself. Now, he joins me more often than not, but it is a whole lot closer to 5:00 in the morning, and a whole lot less times than 3 times a week.

-Then we'd never dreamed of running. Now we run miles together every week.

-Then if we were rounding our ages to the nearest ten, we would have been 20. Now, the same rounding lands us right at 40.

-Then we were as poor as church mice, and a date was a fancy night in. Now we aren't nearly as poor, and we prefer coffee-, dinner-, and wine-tasting dates.

-Then our favorite game to play was Scrabble. Now, our favorite game to play is still Scrabble.

-Then was the first "September 11" and it rocked our world. We were wondering if there was going to be a draft, and us married less than a month. Now, the 14th anniversary of September 11 still rocks our world. It still chokes us up. It still stirs our hearts.

-Then we didn't own a stitch of technology. Just a Nextel. Now we have a laptop, iPad, iPhone, and desktop computer. To say nothing of my "dumb" phone.

-Then Mr. Hippie bought me candles every month. Now he doesn't. Because they makes me snort and sneeze like a crazy lady.

-Then Mr. Hippie own his own roofing business, and I did the stay at home gig-and loved it. Now, Mr. Hippie still runs his own roofing business, and I am still doing the stay at home gig (with a side of She Plans Dinner) and I still love it.

-Then I couldn't imagine life being any better than it was at that moment. Now, I know better. It gets sweeter every day...

Happy Monday!