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Saturday, March 7, 2015


I feel like I've been gone for ages....wait...I have. Ug. This 'working mom' thing has got me beat, but I'm managing. My family is still fed, my house is (moderately) clean...on second though, no, it's a dump. But at least my family is being fed! Seriously though, work is going very well, and I really enjoy spending time with the senior citizens I work with. I'm just not used to being away from home all day. So because I'm running around like a chicken with her head cut off, I've been relying on my slow cooker to keep things going. Here, from Melissa d'Arabian's "Ten Dollar Dinners" is the most amazing chicken soup EVARRRRR! My family loved it so much there weren't any leftovers.

  • 3 chicken thighs, skin removed (I used boneless skinless chicken breasts)
  • 10 -ounce can diced tomatoes
  • with green chiles
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 20 tortilla chips
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Place the chicken, tomatoes (and juices), beans, broth, water, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and chili powder in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Uncover the slow cooker and use tongs to remove the chicken from the pot. Once cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred, then return the meat to the pot. Stir in the lemon juice. Crumble a few tortilla chips into each bowl and cover with some soup. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and grated cheese.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Work, work, work,

     Greetings all! How I have missed you! (Really, I have. I'm not just being polite.) Today was the first day of week three of my new job as an activities aide at an assisted living facility some towns away from mine. My ladies and gentlemen keep me moving and shaking, let me tell you! I think I've done more exercise in the last three weeks than I have in the last three months, and that's not counting the running back and forth across the units. As an activities person, I have been tasked with coming up with activities both interesting and thought-provoking, as my residents ages span several decades, and not all are elderly. (Very few, actually.) Innovative and crafty I may be, but I'm having trouble finding just the right thing to draw people into my groups. I've noticed my 'Altered Book Journal' post seems pretty popular, so I think I'll be shopping for some books at my local Salvation Army so we can cut, glue, paint and paste as our artistic little hearts desire. Tomorrow I'm introducing my residents to Dream Catchers. Well, the crafting of, anyway. Most of them already know what they are. Any suggestions from my readers will be most welcome. I'd love to hear what all of you think. In the meantime...a bit about the history and legend of the Dream Catcher, and a link to make your own...followed by cookies. Because cookies.

The dream net has been made
For many generations
Where spirit dreams have played.
Hung above the cradle board,
Or in the lodge up high,
The dream net catches bad dreams,
While good dreams slip on by.
Bad dreams become entangled
Among the sinew thread.
Good dreams slip through the center hole,
While you dream upon your bed.
This is an ancient legend,
Since dreams will never cease,
Hang this dream net above your bed,
Dream on, and be at peace.

The Ojibwe people have an ancient legend about the origin of the dreamcatcher. Storytellers speak of the Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi; she took care of the children and the people on the land. Eventually, the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America and it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children. So the mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants. The dreamcatchers would filter out all bad dreams and only allow good thoughts to enter our mind. Once the sun rises, all bad dreams just disappear.

Long ago when the word was sound, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and searcher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the elder's willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life, how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle.

But, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, in each time of life there are many forces, some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they'll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature. While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web.

When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the great spirit, the web will filter your good ideas and the bad ones will be trapped and will not pass.

For information on making your own, visit

And now.....COOKIES:

Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies

  1. 3/4 cup raw hazelnuts
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  6. Pinch of ground cloves
  7. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  8. 2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  9. 3 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  10. 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° and position a rack in the center. Spread 1/4 cup of the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 15 minutes, until the skins blister. Transfer the hazelnuts to a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Finely chop the hazelnuts.
  2. In a food processor, finely grind the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Add the flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar and pulse to combine. Add 2 sticks of the butter and pulse until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Pat the dough into two 8-inch disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough to a 10-inch round, 1/4 inch thick. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out rounds as closely together as possible. Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with the second disk of dough. Gather the scraps from both batches and pat into a disk. Chill for about 15 minutes, then cut out a few more cookies. Don't use the dough scraps again.
  4. Bake the cookies 1 sheet at a time for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly colored but the tops are still pale. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack to let the cookies cool.
  5. In a medium saucepan, melt the milk and semisweet chocolate with the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter over very low heat, whisking until smooth. Transfer the chocolate sauce to a medium bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn half of the cookies bottom side up. Spoon a small dollop of the chocolate in the center of each cookie. Dip the remaining cookies halfway into the chocolate and sandwich over the bottoms, pressing to seal. Sprinkle the chopped toasted hazelnuts on the chocolate and let the sandwich cookies stand for about 30 minutes, until the chocolate is set.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Check this out: Mixing With Michelle: THM Crock Pot Cooking Menu Session 1

I'm heading off to work in the big wide real world in a couple weeks, nursing home hours, which means 8:30 AM to 4:30 Pm, with a half an hour drive each way. Home at five means I can either rush around to get dinner on the table by 6:00, or I can be smart and use frivolous things like Facebook as a resource, and plan dinners in advance. I think I shall do the latter.

 Mixing With Michelle: THM Crock Pot Cooking Menu Session 1: This is  my official first attempt to create an ALL THM menu for the crock pot.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Check out these SO TASTIE mason jar salads! (I've got a serious craving for salad now....)

Fresh Corn, Edamame and Radish Salad
This easy salad recipe can be made in no time at all!


  • 2 cups fresh corn
  • 2 cups shelled edamame
  • 1 cup chopped radishes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons white miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (optional)
  • 4 (6 ounce) Mason jars


  1. Combine corn, edamame, radishes, green onion and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together canola oil, rice vinegar, white miso paste and chili garlic sauce (if using).
  3. Stir dressing into corn mixture and divide salad between Mason jars.
  4. Refrigerate at least an hour. Shake before serving.
(See full article at SheKnows)

5. Avocado Mango Black Bean Salad

This healthy salad recipe is packed full of nutrients!


  • 2 ripe but firm avocados, halved, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 ripe but firm mangoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped, or 1/2 cup chopped red onion for a mild flavor)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa


  1. Add the avocado, 1 tbsp lime juice, mango, and jalapeno to a large bowl and gently toss.
  2. Whisk together 2 tbsp lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, salt, honey together in a small bowl. Once those ingredients are mixed well, add olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk.
  3. Pour dressing over avocado mixture, add black beans and gently toss.
  4. Serve over a bed of spinach with quinoa.
(See full article at GreenPlateRule)

6. Veggie Salad with Lemon Dressing

This cold salad recipe stay good for 3-4 days.


  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Capsicum
  • Tomato
  • Spring Onion
  • Lemon Juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Water
  • Salt/pepper


  1. Make lemon dressing in separate small jar and shake (One part lemon juice to three parts olive oil plus salt & pepper).
  2. Pop lemon dressing in the bottom of the salad jar and layer veggies  in order above.
  3. Seal and store in fridge
  4. When ready to serve, shake up to cover the salad with the dressing or dump on a plate.
(See full article at ABeachCottage)

Here are some ideas from Earthbound Farm:
Earthbound Farm / Via

You can DIY your own salad with those tips, or you can make one of these genius concoctions below.

Your call! It’s all easy and tasty.

1. Fresh And Springy Walnut, Radish, And Apple Salad

Beth / Eat Within Your Means / Via
The walnuts come with heart-healthy fats, and the apples add a hint of sweetness. Get the recipe.

2. Burrito Bowl Salad

Strictly Delicious / Via
These burrito bowl salads are healthier than your standard Mexican salad fare because they come with Greek yogurt and quinoa. Get the recipe.

3. Green Garden Vegan Salad

Lunchbox Bunch / Via
Yes, those are flowers on top, and they’re totally edible. As are the healthy and tasty veggies underneath. Get the recipe.

4. Layered Quinoa Salad With Beet Vinaigrette

Marla / Family Fresh Cooking / Via
That bright pink color comes from a homemade beet vinaigrette. And quinoa is a grain-like food with a lot of protein and fiber, which means it’ll fill you up. Get the recipe here.

5. Egg And Avocado Mixed Salad

Emma Christensen for The Kitchn
This one’s got eggs, grapes, corn, nuts, and more. See how it’s made here.

6. Zucchini Noodle Salad With Peas And Quinoa

Inspiralized / Via
Use a spiralizer to turn your zucchini into a much healthier version of noodles for this salad. Get the recipe.

7. Asian Noodle Salad

Edamame + red bell peppers + carrots + a peanut butter-based sauce = crunchy, tasty goodness. Get the recipe.

8. Cajun Shrimp Jar

Lexi’s Clean Kitchen / Via
Shrimp is an awesome source of lean protein, and the guac will add healthy fats from avocado. Get the recipe courtesy of Lexi’s Clean Kitchen.

9. Pomegranate And Pear Salad

Fake Food Free / Via
The pomegranates have vitamin C, the greens and pear slices have fiber, and the chopped nuts and crumbled feta provide healthy fat and protein. Get the recipe here: Pomegranate and Pear Salad Recipe From Mason Jar Salads, courtesy of Fake Food Free.

10. Rainbow Protein-Packed Salad

Jenny Sugar for Popsugar Fitness / Via
Taste the sweet, sweet antioxidants: Fill this salad with fruits and veggies of every color. Get the recipe.

11. Chopped Black Bean And Corn Salad

Organize Yourself Skinny / Via
Black beans are a good source of protein, which should help you stay fuller for longer — no more midday crashes. Get the recipe.

12. Mason Jar Chickpea, Farro, And Greens Salad

Cookie and Kate / Via
Have you met farro? It’s a seriously under-appreciated grain. One cup of cooked farro contains about 10 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein — which means that it’ll keep you feeling full and happy well into the afternoon. Get the recipe, courtesy of Cookie and Kate.

13. Whole Foods Inspired Layered Salad With Orange Ginger Dressing

Oh She Glows / Via
This salad is topped with edamame, which is a good source of protein, fiber, vitamin C, and iron. Get the recipe here.

14. Sprouted Spring Salad

Inspired Edibles / Via
If you like your salads without leafy greens, swap ‘em for sprouts instead. Get the recipe.

15. Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad With Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Ya Gotta Have a Hobby / Via
Mangos have a ton of vitamin C (one cup of sliced mangos contain about 76% of what you should eat in a day). Get the recipe.

16. Chicken And Spinach Salad Jars

Foxes Love Lemons / Via
The chicken adds healthy lean protein to the mix. Get the recipe.

17. Spinach Salad With Mozzarella, Orzo, And Snap Peas

Earthbound Farm / Via
Spinach is a cruciferous veggie (just like kale) that has iron, protein, and even some cancer-fighting properties. Get the recipe.

18. Sunny Kale Kruncher

Lunchbox Bunch / Via
This vegan salad is almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. Get the recipe.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's a new year full of reading opportunities!!!!

So, what are you going to read this year? I have a list of 513 titles to read on, and a 32 page book list on my computer....let's see if I can stay away (mostly) from old favorites and chip away at my 'To Read' lists. For further inspiration......
                             I have a Goodreads goal of 170 books to read in 2015, but this is a good kick-off point!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Amid your New Year's celebrating, take some moments for quiet reflection.....


20 questions for a New Year’s Eve reflection
2014-12-30 05:01
winter sunset
by Tsh
As you end this new year and move on to the next, I hope you take a bit of time to reflect. Post-eggnog, it’s easy to want to speed forward with gusto, packing up the ornaments until next year and juice-cleansing your system from all the holiday indulgence.
But ease your foot onto the brake for the next few days, and gift yourself the space and freedom to reflect on the past twelve months.
I’m all about starting a new year fresh, making a few goals, finding that one special word, and cleaning out the cobwebs from the corners. But all that stuff is much more meaningful when you look behind you at the bends in your road.
Honor the past year by celebrating your joys, mourning your losses, and shaking your head at the wonder of it all. Isn’t it amazing another year has passed? And so the earth goes round and round, with us about to orbit once more.
Whether you’re headed to a party or headed to the living room with a bowl of popcorn, New Year’s Eve is a great day for reflection. A whole year has passed since the last one. You’re a year older. Are you a year wiser?
Use these next 48 hours to reflect on the past 365 days.
20 questions for a New Year's Eve reflection (free printable!)

20 questions for a New Year’s Eve reflection

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
5. Pick three words to describe this past year.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your year—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you. (If you’re not married, have fun guessing the answers from other friends and family, or just skip this question.)
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their year—again, without asking.
8. What were the best books you read this year?
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
Want to answer these questions solo? Grab a cup of coffee and a pen, and use the space provided on the first three pages of the free download.
Want to chat over the answers with your spouse or with friends? Use the last page of the PDF to cut each question into squares, and then toss them in a hat to draw, one at a time.
And new this year—a set of questions for your kids! Pass it along to them for a personal reflection exercise, or you could cut up the questions, toss them in a jar, and pull them out to answer as a family.
Tomorrow, I’ll share another round of annual questions that’ll help you think about 2014. Have any dreams? Hopes? Goals so big they make you laugh?
What would you like to happen for you personally, for your children, for your family? Tomorrow I’ll share some ways you can be intentional, jot down your ideas, and possibly create a plan to kick yourself in the pants.
But for now, happy reflecting! And pass over that bowl of popcorn!

Easy-as-Pie Chickie Pie, as promised (Though belated. Many apologies!)

This is the foundation recipe for the chicken pot pie that I make once a month. I'm not a huge fan, but my husband and sons like it so much that it's a monthly request (sometimes weekly) and I actually have to make 2 of them, or make it in a large casserole dish (buy extra pie crust if you do this) and there still aren't any leftovers. Enjoy!

Savory Chicken Pot Pie

Savory Chicken Pot Pie
Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts make a delicious pot pie that’s made using chicken and Green Giant veggies - a cozy dinner.
  • prep time10 min
  • total time40 min
  • ingredients4
  • servings4



box Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box


cups diced cooked chicken
cups Green Giant™ Steamers™ frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (from12 oz bag) (I start out with sautéed chopped onion and garlic, and usually use fresh veggies, which adds to the prep time)                                             
can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup (I use cream of mushroom, much to my 17 year old's dismay)                                            
  • 1 Heat oven to 400°F. Soften pie crust as directed on package. Remove 1 crust from pouch; unfold crust. Place crust in bottom of pie plate (9 inch).
  • 2 In medium saucepan, combine all filling ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Pour into crust-lined pie plate.
  • 3 Remove second crust from pouch; unfold crust. With small cookie cutter or sharp knife, cut holes in crust. Top  with crust; seal edges with fork or flute, trimming edges if necessary.
  • 4 Bake at 400°F. for 20 to 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil after 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.