Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sweet and Crunchy Tomato Soup

My hubby asked me to recreate a creamy tomato soup that he had tried in a restaurant that had savory bits of vegetables and cheese in every bite. After some experimentation, I came up with the following recipe, full of sautéed peppers and onions, with scrumptious morsels of cream cheese mixed throughout. It makes a nice large batch, so there are plenty of yummy leftovers to eat for lunches. Serve it with some warm cornbread, and it makes a light but satisfying meal. My family keeps gobbling it up when I make it, but I'll add a picture to the recipe soon!

1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken broth
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. red wine (optional)
1&1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

2 cups milk
4 tsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
4 oz. cream cheese, softened

In large soup pot, sauté the peppers and onions in the olive oil until tender. Add minced garlic and sauté until golden.

Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, salt, sugar, and seasoning. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile melt butter in small saucepan. Stir in flour. Slowly add milk. Stir constantly until mixture boils and thickens slightly.

Stir the milk mixture into the soup. Bring back to a gentle boil. Add the softened cream cheese and stir until broken up into small bits. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Yield: About 16 cups

*Sometimes my family likes to add crumbled turkey bacon, for a delicious flavor twist.

Friday, December 11, 2015

I Had to Tell Him

I first wrote a draft of this post several years ago and never published it. It's about Easter, but read on and you'll see that it applies to Christmas too. HaHa! Some things just don't change!

This past Saturday evening, the night before Easter, we watched a family movie, and let the kids stay up a little late. When the movie was over, the kids headed off to brush their teeth and I began sweeping up stray popcorn and collecting cups. When I saw the dinner dishes still waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher (which needed clean dishes removed from it) I decided to just wait and finish up after the kids were in bed.

My hubby strolled in as we were saying prayers together. He left while I read a bedtime story. When I was done, I was surprised to see the house was dark, except for our bedroom, where BadDad was engrossed in a detective show.

You're going to bed? I asked him. I may have sounded just a tad irritated.

Yeah, he replied, I'm exhausted. Is that OK with you?

Fine, I said, but I'm going to be up for hours still.

He looked confused. Why?

I couldn't believe he was asking that. I mean besides the kitchen mess that needed cleaning up, it was the night before Easter.

Honey, I said as gently as I could, There is no Easter Bunny. I've got to do the baskets, and wait until the kids are actually asleep before I can put them out.

The light began to dawn in his eyes. I was ready to forgive his cluelessness. We'd have a long night, but pull through it together. It could even be fun.

Then he asked groggily, You want me to help?


What I'd like to know is why Mrs. Claus and Mrs. Bunny don't get the credit? It's obvious they're the real forces behind making childhood dreams come true!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Old Year's Resolutions

Hello out there! Wow, time really flies sometimes. Life gets so busy that before you know it days, weeks, or years have gone by.

I've been keeping busy. I have a child each in high school, middle school, and elementary school now and I still homeschool them all. It's easier in some ways than when they were younger, and harder in others. I wouldn't change it for anything.

I've been seeking out paid writing opportunities and I've neglected this blog. My family misses reading about our adventures though, so I will try to make time to post every so often. It will be my Old Year's Resolution. Everyone knows that New Year's Resolutions don't work, right? I think I'm on to something!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Give Me a Break

It started out so well. Two weeks ago our family was anticipating a longed for break from the routine. The kids and I were ready to take not one, but two whole weeks off from the grind of studying, while BadDad arranged to take vacation time for Christmas week. It was going to be bliss!

Then life happened. The first part of our break went OK, it's just that we were so busy with last minute holiday preparations that we didn't have time to relax. We just figured the fun stuff would come later. BadDad took one day to go visit his brother in the hospital, and that was fine, and then he decided to run in to the office on another day (or was it two?). That was still manageable. We enjoyed Christmas together, and that was what was really important.

Halfway through our break (where did the time go already?) K-boy started feeling off. Soon he was out of commission with a fever. I was still hanging in there. Then D-boy came down with it, and there was no denying we'd been struck by the flu. During vacation. From schoolwork. It's every kid's nightmare.

Needless to say, the rest of our 'break' has been a cycle of sickness and recovery. Thankfully BadDad and I haven't succumbed. The kids are on the mend, but things like getting together with extended family, and hanging out with friends have had to be postponed. Now it's time to take down the tree and decorations, and get back to normal.

In K-boy's words, "This was the worst break ever!" Them's the breaks, kid. Them's the breaks.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Hello out there. I haven't posted in quite some time. I took a spring break from blogging which turned into a summer vacation, which led into the start of the school year, and then of course came the holidays. I did miss it, but just couldn't seem to find the time to start up again. I don't know why, all I do is homeschool three children, drive them all over the place, and cook, and clean, and then there's laundry...

Anyway, what has really surprised me is that my family has been hinting and nagging for me to get back to blogging. They've been making suggestions for articles and even taking pictures for me to post. Turns out, they enjoy the spin that I put on our daily lives. Go figure!

Sooo...I've got a new laptop (and soon I'll figure out how to post pictures on it) and lots of ideas for posts. Tonight I'm going to settle in with some New Year's munchies and plan some articles out, while I try to stay up till midnight. I should probably ask the kids to wake me up at 11:50 or so, just in case.

I hope you all have a happy and safe New Year's Eve. See you next year!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Spark

Thirty odd years ago, in a fourth grade classroom, in a suburban town in New Jersey, I was a little girl who was learning to hate school. My teacher, Miss H., didn't do much to disguise her dislike of me, and that soon affected my attitude toward formal education. Up till then, my teachers had been kindhearted women that appreciated smart, but soft spoken students like myself. Miss H., my mother theorized, disliked me for not being my older brother, a former favorite pupil of hers. He was everything that I wasn't - confident, eager to share in class, and good at math and science.

Miss H., unlike the teachers I had been used to, was big and stout, with a short, no nonsense haircut. She had a booming voice and wasn't afraid to use it to keep order, or to humiliate some poor, hapless daydreamer. Gulp. We were not a match made in Heaven.

I think I racked up more sick days during that school year than any other, due to mysterious aches and pains that came on suddenly every school morning. With her drill sergeant voice and her total lack of sympathy or imagination, Miss H. came very close to destroying my natural curiosity at the tender age of nine. It was only the fact that I was lucky enough to come from a home where learning was not only valued, it was expected, coupled with ending up with a really good teacher for fifth grade that saved me. Well that and strangely, something that Miss H. herself said, something that has stuck with me all of these years.

I had picked up a bad habit during my sojourn in Miss H's class. I would arrive home on the bus everyday, throw my book bag into my room, and spend hours forgetting that there was any such miserable place as school. It was only when my parents made me go do my homework, that I would force myself to do it, and even then I would race through it as quickly as possible.

One night, after I had been tucked into bed, I remembered with horror that in addition to my regular homework, I was supposed to write a first person essay about someone else's imaginary life. I crept out of bed, and quietly turned on my desk lamp, praying that I wouldn't draw the attention of my parents. I'd already been in plenty of hot water about my grades that school year.

I whipped off a couple of paragraphs about being a professional ballerina, something I knew about only from what I'd read in books. I wrote about sore feet, and stage fright, and the feeling of euphoria that came from dancing for an audience. After a quick rereading, I turned out my light and went back to bed.

The next day at school, I handed in my paper, and prepared for another day of torment. It was during reading group time, one of the few pleasures in my day, that Miss H's sharp voice called across the classroom.

Patty, she asked, Did your mother or father help you with your essay?

Feeling indignant at the implication, I replied, No, I wrote it by myself. I waited for the hammer that was surely going to fall.

How do you know what it feels like to be a ballerina? she asked.

I looked at my feet and whispered, I just imagined how it feels.

To my never ending shock, Miss H. stood up, and announced that she had something to say to the whole class. When she had everyone's attention she proclaimed dramatically in words that I remember by heart, Patty has a God-given gift for writing. She then asked me to read my essay aloud to the class. When I finished she ordered told me that I needed to use my talent and share it with the world.

I wish I could say that my relationship with Miss H. improved and my school year turned around. Neither happened. In the years since however, whenever I think about my dreams, I think about her comment, probably one of the most sincere compliments I've ever been given in my life. She gave me a spark that day, an idea that my natural talent could be valued by others, not just by those that loved me.

Have I used my gift? Well, I'm still trying Miss H., I'm still trying.

What about you? Did you ever recieve encouragement from an unexpected source?

linking to:  Pour Your Heart Out

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guest Post: The Dastardly Dog

I've been sadly behind in posting lately. Homeschooling has been keeping me extra busy...it's quarterly reporting time, and the end of the school year is fast approaching. I hope to be back on track with posting soon. In the meantime, my dog has graciously offered to sit at my laptop today and write a guest post for me. Some of you have already been introduced to her as The Dastardly Dog. Without further ado, I give you Trinket.....

Trinket: Thank you so much for that flattering introduction. I take great pride in my role in the family. You know, a lot of people think dogs have easy lives. Let me assure you that just isn't true. Walk with me, if you will, for a day in my life...the life of a dog.

6:00 am- The alarm clock blares and BadDad gets up to work out. It's hard work to ignore the noise, but I burrow deeper into my blankets and manage to get back to sleep.

7:00 am- WorstMom starts her day. I trot out when I hear her start the coffeemaker. I have to make a quick decision...face going outside now, or bolt for my family room basket? If the weather is bad, I usually try to avoid going out as long as possible.

7:30 am- The kids are stirring now. BadDad heads out for the day. I may see him to the door with a few friendly barks. If I feel like it.

9:00 am- WorstMom is trying to herd everyone up to the schoolroom. Right about now is when I really, really need to go out (perfect timing I know). After I come inside again, I'll pester everyone until they feed me.

9:15 - 11:30 am- Everyone is busy with lessons. I'm busy sleeping in my indoor doghouse in the schoolroom. I like to think my snoring is the perfect white noise to study to.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm- WorstMom throws in laundry, cleans, and starts dinner during her lunch break. I worry that she doesn't have enough to do, so I get her to let me out. After a minute or so I want to come in again. Unless I see a squirrel or rabbit out there. Then I'll bark for awhile to alert the neighborhood. Or, I might take a moment to roll around in something deliciously smelly. The family just loves when I do that!

1:00 - 4:00pm - I have to determine where the family is gathering for the afternoon. If they're reading on the couch, I'll squeeze on there too. If they're back in the schoolroom, that's where I'll be. I'm not one to abandon my post. I'll catch a few more zzzz's while they work.

4:00 - 6:00 pm - This is the danger time. Sometimes they leave the house and accidentally forget to take me. I have to stay focused and watch for any sign of people putting on shoes or coats. The sound of the keys is, of course, a dead giveaway. At the first clue that they might leave I have to follow them around, barking loudly (so they don't forget me). Unfortunately, sometimes this backfires and I end up in my crate. Oh well, it's time for another nap anyway!

6:00 - 10:00 pm - I like to have an early dinner. Sometimes, if I beg enough, more than one person feeds me and I eat twice! By this time, at least some people are usually home and I start my evening routine. I make a choice between the couch or my basket and doze while I wait for the house to quiet down. Eventually I'll trot down the hall to my bedroom basket and call it a night.

Wow! Are you exhausted just looking at my schedule? I know I am! It's been a pleasure to meet you all. Now I'm off for a nap.