Monday, May 31, 2010

Making Meals Monday

In honor of the "unofficial" start of summer, here are this weeks three recipes. Enjoy!!

Grilled Pizza

(I don't plan on making the crust from scratch, but more power to you if you can!)

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 1 envelope Fleischmann's® Pizza Crust Yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups very warm water (120 degrees to 130 degrees F)*
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • Additional flour for rolling
  • Additional oil for grilling
  • Pizza sauce
  • Other toppings as desired
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Start charcoal fire or preheat gas grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add very warm water and oil; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough. Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead** on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic but not sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into 8 portions. Pat or roll dough on a well-floured counter to about 8-inch circles; they do not need to be perfect.
  4. Brush both sides of crust with additional oil. Using hands, lift each crust carefully and place on grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until bottom is lightly browned and top looks set. Using long handled tongs, remove crust from grill, grilled side up, to a platter or baking sheet.
  5. Lightly add sauce and top the grilled side of each pizza crust. Excess sauce or toppings makes the pizza hard to handle. Repeat with remaining pizzas.
  6. Carefully slide each pizza onto the grill. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes until bottom of crust is browned and cheese is melted. Remove from grill and serve immediately.

  • *If you don't have a thermometer, water should feel very warm to the touch.
  • **To knead the dough, add just enough flour to the dough and your hand to keep the dough from sticking. Flatten dough and fold it toward you. Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away with a rolling motion. Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat the ‘fold, push and turn' steps. Keep kneading dough until becomes smooth and elastic. Use a little more floor if dough becomes too sticky, always working the flour into the ball of dough.
  • Make Ahead: Dough (but NOT individual crusts) may be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. Punch down and roll out just before grilling.

Shrimp Kabobs


  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing, divided
  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 large onions
  • 16 large fresh mushrooms
  • 2 large green peppers, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 16 cherry tomatoes

  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 1/2 cup salad dressing and shrimp. Cut each onion into eight wedges. In another large resealable plastic bag, combine the vegetables and remaining dressing. Seal bags and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Drain and discard marinade. On eight metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread the shrimp and vegetables. Grill kabobs, covered, over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink.

Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 small onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • skewers

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto kabobs while cooking. Place the chicken, garlic, onions and peppers in the bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours (the longer the better).
  2. Preheat the grill for high heat.
  3. Drain marinade from the chicken and vegetables, and discard marinade. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto the skewers.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Turn and brush with reserved marinade frequently.

See you tomorrow!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stream of consciousness

Aunt Betty went home today. It was a great week with her, and we were so glad she was able to come up. We always have fun while she is here, and the kids just adore her. Thank you Aunt Betty for a fun week! The kids miss you already.

We have had a busy week. Wednesday we finished up a project Arlington did for school. I am mad I didn't take a picture of it before it went off to school Thursday afternoon, but I will take a picture when it comes home. She had to build a garden out of paper flower petals - a 1/4 of a petal for every 15 minutes she read. It took 1 hour of reading to form a flower. Over the last 2 weeks, Arlington had read enough to make 13 full flowers. And that was just her reading to herself before bed each night. So she did a nice job. And the poster "her flower garden", came out great.

Thursday Mat met us and we went out to dinner at a favorite local restaurant. It was great. We had yummy food and pie. Yum.....pie.

Friday Mat came home from work early and did some yard work. We decided to wait until next year to hire someone to mow and care for our monsterous lawn. This year we will just suffer through. We have an excavation project we want to tackle, so we are going to do that instead. When I got home from work, I had brought some free annuals that the school had given me after they did their annual planting. So Aunt Betty helped me plant those in the ground. After yard work, we went out to eat and Aunt Betty gave Cainan his birthday presents from her.

I cannot believe that next Wednesday Cainan is going to be 4. 4!! He has been home with us for almost 3 whole years already. That is hard to believe. He is so excited about turning 4. He asks every day if "today is the day". He got some cool presents from Aunt Betty which he has been playing non-stop with.

Today we finished with the mowing and watering all of the plants. Aunt Betty and I went to Arlington's softball game after we were done.

(Arlington is number 9 by the way)

I am glad she was here to see Arlington play. She has been practicing with her this week, and it paid off.

Arlington played really well. She hit the ball each time up to bat.

And she stopped the balls that came her way - and made some good plays.

She even had a chance to be the catcher today.

It was fun to watch today. Another game was going on at the same time - some kind of tournament with older boys. They hit homeruns into our field 6 times during the game. One went so far that it came into the in field of our field. Now, that is an arm.

After the game, Mat took Aunt Betty to the airport and the kids and I came home.

We ate lunch and played outside. Arlington's friend "J" and her mom, Karen, called for us to go to a movie with them this afternoon.

So we all went to see the new "Shrek". It was cute - we had a nice time.

Finley and I ended up moving close to the movie - she was having a hard time seeing it - even sitting about midway back in the theater. Everyone behaved really well.

We were going to go to dinner after, but we were all really full, so we just came home and ate light here at the house. Another time.

Now you are all caught up. Aren't you glad? Tomorrow is church and yard work. Monday is the local Memorial Day "parade" (I use that term lightly because the parade route is like 1/2 mile at best). Arlington will be marching with her Daisy troop.

Then we are having a picnic here with my friend Emma and her daughters. Her hubby is out of town, so they are going to come over and hang with us for the day. It is going to be fun. We can't wait!

Loving the three day weekend, and hope everyone is having a fabulous Memorial Day weekend! Only 14 more school days for me, and 15 for Arlington!! Summer is almost here!

Happy Birthday to my nephew "E" (the big one!!). He is turning 2! I cannot believe it. Happy Birthday sweet boy. I can't wait to watch you grow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Its Not Fair

Yesterday Finley's VI teacher, Gail, came to the house for a visit. She visits Finley twice a month right now - and usually at the school. But every once in awhile she comes to the house so that we can talk as well. And she always has a present - or 6 - for Finley when she arrives. They are all vision/braille related, but so fun. She brings her toys and books and paper, and goodies. Finley loves Gail. Not just for the presents, but that helps. Gail is an amazing teacher. This will be Finley's last year with her - Gail only works with preschool age children. We will really miss her.

When Gail comes to the house, and brings Finley presents (this time included a harmonica. Thanks for that) Arlington gets a little jealous. Even though she can play with anything that comes, she knows it is for Finley. Arlington will said "its not fair". She is just being 7. It is hard to watch a sibling get a present just because.

We have tried to talk to Arlington about what is going on with Finley. We understand how it may not seem fair. But what Finley has to deal with is certainly not fair. It is hard to explain to Arlington how what Finley has is certainly less fair.

So much about it is not fair. It isn't fair that she will never see the world as it was meant to be seen without an intervention from science. It is not fair that it is progressive and we don't know what the loss will be, or when it will happen. Just that it will happen.

The thing about a progressive disorder – as soon as you get comfortable with the stage you are at, it progresses again. And then we say to ourselves – if it doesn’t get any worse than this, we would be okay with that.

We know that where it stands now, there is no treatment and no cure. That more loss is headed her way. It is hard to think of her future being more limited than a “normal” child’s future. You just want your children to grow up and have every opportunity that can be afforded to them. And to think that this disease will rob her of so much is heart breaking.

So we will continue to fight. And we make life as normal as possible for her. We push her just as hard as Arlington and Cainan. To make her strong and independent. That is not easy to do with Finley. Being the baby of the family is a role she was BORN to do. (ha ha - get it?)


In other news - we are having a great visit with Aunt Betty. She has been spending her days with the littles and enjoying the beautiful weather. We love when she visits. We have a lot of fun. I am glad she is here with us for this week.

Arlington had her last Daisy meeting today. Yahoo. She won't be doing Brownies next year because right now they don't have a leader. In a lot of ways it is unfortunate because I do think that Girl Scouts is a wonderful organization. But what can you do.

I found out today that I am the staff member of the year in my district. I was pretty surprised by this news. We have a staff member of the year and a teacher of the year. So next week there will be a little ceremony in front of the Board, and stuff going on at my own school, and then we will get an award at convocation next year when school starts. I was completely humbled by this. It makes me feel good that I am appreciated like this!!

I will see you on Saturday. Enjoy the rest of the week! Summer is right around the corner.

Friendship is born at the moment :”What? You Too? I thought I was the only one” - C.S. Lewis

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Funny Bunnies

If you didn't already know it - kids are flippin' hysterical. My kids crack me up on a daily basis with some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths. And the kids at my school are no different.

So - to lighten the mood, here are some funny things that we have heard lately

Finley was having a conversation with Cainan in the car one day this week

Finley - Cainan, the sun does not like noses - only brains.
Cainan - the sun likes noses too
Finley - no it doesn't Cainan. The sun ONLY likes BRAINS
Cainan - not noses?
Finley - no. But the clouds.....clouds like noses. But the sun....the sun only likes brains
Cainan - okay.

Uh, what the heck? And this came out of the blue. That girl is a strange one.

Arlington - (while listening to Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat CD) - Mom? How does Joseph know what the dreams mean?

Me - well, that is what he was able to do.......tell the meaning of dreams. (now opening a can of worms) You know, Arlington, sometimes you can look up what dreams mean on the internet

Arlington - so we can google it

Me - how do you know that term?

Arlington - you and dad say it. Can we look it up?

Me - sure - what do you want to look up

Arlington - well, last night I had a dream about a rocket ship that wouldn't take off. It just sat there laughing at me. Can we look that up? What would that have meant?

Me - uh......sure.

Finley - (Friday morning in bed) Mom? Mom? Mom? I have something I need to tell you mom. (being very serious)
Me - (slightly annoyed because I am trying to get everyone ready for school) What is it Finley
Finley - arm is missing.

I look over and she has tucked her arm in her shirt.
We have nicknamed Finley "It wasn't me"
Me - Finley? Did you push your brother?
Finley - it wasn't me

Me - Finley? Did you write on the wall/
Finley- it wasn't me

Me - Finley? Did you draw on your body?
Finley - it wasn't me

Me - Finley? Did you take all the toys and put them under your pillow?
Finley - it wasn't me
And the kids at school. What would I do without their daily humor? Working with the little kids is the best when it comes to daily laughs.

Most of the kids who crack me up start with........................Mrs. Pletcher? About a week ago.....

Stop right there, I tell them. If it didn't happen today, or at the VERY latest - yesterday, I don't want to here about it.

Or the kids that come down because they have a bug bite that is itching so bad they can't stand it, yet by the time they have gotten to my office they can't locate it. And neither can I.
Kid - "I am allergic to silicone and I don't know that I am" (??????)

Okay.....which is it?


Kid - I don't fell well.
Me - I am sorry to hear that. what doesn't feel well?
Kid - everything. I think I have the plague.
Kid - (looking at my food pyramid) - where does booze fit into the pyramid?

Are you kidding?
Kid - (who is bleeding from picking a scab and blood is all over their leg) - don't wipe the blood up!!
Me- what? Why?
Kid - it looks so cool like that - I want to leave it.
Me -
so far this year, I have had kids stick paper down in their ear (they didn't want to hear their teacher any more) and a rock down in their ear. (dare). I could get the rock, but the doctor had to get the paper! At least this year no one ate their lunch ticket. Like last year.

I got a lot of thank you cards from the kids on Nurse's day. Some of my favorites:

"thank you for the lice cream" (I have no idea what this might be - I don't do anything with lice except send them home)
"thank you for helping my nose bleed after I picked my nose"
"thank you for the ice pack after my brother punched me at the bus stop"
"thank you for saving me from that tick"
"thank you for the magic chapstick"

I have one diabetic in my school. He is a boy, so he does "boy" things at least once a week that make my eyes cross. Like sliding down the banister and knocking his insulin pump off. Or - trying to jump down 4 stairs at a time and (you guessed it) knocking his insulin pump off. Or - playing tackle football at recess when it is supposed to be touch football and (say it with me) knocking his insulin pump off. And each time he comes up......I look at him funny and he says "what?" We have our own comedy routine.


I also have the 4th grade girl drama queens. I try to hide first thing in the morning. Otherwise they come to my office, sink down on the bed and tell me a sad tale. Like:

"I just came off the bus and I can't breathe". Me - where your running? Girl - no, but it is a long walk. (no it isn't. It is about 10 feet)

"I am starving" Me - did you eat breakfast? Girl - no. I had to do my hair.

The kids keep me in stitches. I only have K-4, so they are all 10 and under. I love my job and enjoy coming. I enjoy listening to what the kids have to say. Someday soon they are going to grow up, and be cranky teenagers, and not want hugs when they fall, or cuddles when they are sad. So as crazy at it makes me some days to see 60 bug bites or 70 stomach aches, I wouldn't trade it for an older crowd.

Share with me some of your favorite stories! I would love to hear them. I LOVE to laugh. Leave me a comment telling me something funny you have heard lately.

See you next week. I am only making one new thing next week because we are having company and we will be going out! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Headaches and Haircuts

Today I had to leave work early because I had a migraine. I don't get them very often, so when I do, I cannot function. It was a combination of things, I think, that set it in motion. But it was to the point of hardly being able to open my eyes, so I needed to come home and lie down.

I have an awesome school, so they pulled it together and within 20 minutes of announcing that I probably needed to leave, I was able to go and they were set for the day. I have awesome staff!

I am feeling better after lying in bed for nearly 4 hours under the covers - out of the light. And a lot of advil. The headache is completely gone.

Arlington and Finley got haircuts today. Just trims, but we are trying to keep their hair in good shape. Especially Finley who barely has any to begin with.

Mat took them to get their haircuts, and Cainan and I hung out and had dinner together at home. He and I don't get a lot of time by ouselves without the noisy girls, so it was nice. Cainan is just so......peaceful.

Mat and I got a lot of yard work done this weekend. The weather was beautiful and so we were able to finish mulching the front of our house, and plant a few new things. Mat fixed the hillside that had slid in our big rain storm a few months ago. And then yesterday a friend of mine from work brought me about 16 plants from "cuts" from her mom's perennial garden. Amazing!! I planted most of them and looked them up. They are all "deer resistant" so we shall see. I did spray the plants this year with a deer resistant spray. It smelled AWFUL. Like skunk. So it better work. I almost gagged when I sprayed it. Let's hope the deer feel the same way and leave my flowers alone.

A girl can dream.

The summer BBQ for Finley is getting closer! If you haven't already done so, it is time to sign up! I am going to post the online sign up here on this blog post again. You can sign up right here on line.

The date of the BBQ is July 17th. It will be Pennsylvania, so we hope you will join us!! It is going to be a lot of fun. And you can meet the kids and have great food. And even have a chance to win a prize!!

If you can't come to the BBQ, we hope that you join us to walk in October. If you want to walk, you can get a shirt that says "Finley's Fighter's" for just $11!!! You can either buy this online on our website (click on the link on the top left of our blog) We hope to have a large team walking with us this year. There are so many of you that care about our family and Finley, and we are so glad you have decided to help us with this great cause. The research is going to save her sight one day - I just know it. They get closer all the time. But they can't do it without our help. And we walk together for FINLEY. We walk for every person affected by blindness. We hope you feel the same and will join us for this wonderful walk.

You can also go to my VisionWalk sight HERE and donate to our team. We have a goal of $5000 and we know we can reach it. How amazing to be able to give such a large amount to a wonderful organization on Finley's Behalf.

Everyone who donates $25 or more will get a free Finley's Fighters magnet!! I know that many of you have already donated (thank you) and I am going to be mailing your magnets. I am just waiting for my Finley's Fighters Thank you cards to arrive and then I will send your magnet. You can also get one at the BBQ or when we walk. So no worries!!!

I can also get you a car magnet. A few people have asked about these and wanted one. The car magnets are kind of big - 11 inches by 8 inches with the Finley's Fighters logo. They cost $5. If you want one, let my parents know or you can email me and I will get you one. They look good on vans, SUVs and cars with big backs (due to their size). But you can also put them on car doors!!! It is a great way to show your support for Finley and for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. It helps us get the word out.

So spread the word. All are welcome to walk, and to come to the BBQ. If you want to bring your family, your friends, your neighbors - please do!! The more we spread the knowledge about Finley and about children who are affected by LCA, the more money that will be raised for vision saving research. We thank you for your support.

We will do anything to give Finley vision for life. And we know you will help us with that goal.

What? There weren't any pictures in this post. got nothin'.

Have a great week everyone!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Making Meals Monday

I know you will all be happy to know that I am back to cooking this week. As fun as last week was, I would be 1000 pounds if I lived like that on a weekly basis.

So this week, here is what is on the menu:

Ranch Crispy Chicken

Ingredients (now the ingredients are for 8 pieces of chicken, but you can 1/2 it)

  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 (1 ounce) packages ranch dressing mix
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Combine dressing mix and bread crumbs in a plastic bag. Add chicken and shake until coated.
  3. Place coated chicken pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Serve with rice or potatoes, if desired.

Sweet 'n' Hot Glazed Salmon


  • 1 1/2 cups apricot nectar
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (3/4 pound) salmon filet without skin

  1. Preheat your oven's broiler, and grease a broiling pan.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together the apricot nectar, dried apricots, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until reduced by about half. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Remove 1/4 cup of the glaze for basting, and set the remaining aside.
  3. Place the salmon filet on the greased broiling pan, and brush with glaze. Broil 3 inches from the heat for 8 to 12 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Gently turn over once during cooking, and baste frequently during the last 4 minutes. Serve with remaining glaze.

Szechwan Shrimp


  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces cooked shrimp, tails removed

  1. In a bowl, stir together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in green onions and garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in shrimp, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in sauce. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened.


See you tomorrow!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good food, good friends, GREAT times

I have some of the greatest friends. Not just here in our newest state, but all over the country. Every where we have lived, we have left behind some really great people. Luckily we have been able to keep in touch with most of them over the years.

5 states later, we are still gathering friends for a lifetime. Wednesday was National School Nurse's day. It also marks the birthday of Florence Nightengale, and the end of Nurse's week.

My nursing supervisor wanted to take all of us out to dinner (all 5 of us that work in the district, plus our three substitute nurses). We had a fabulous time. We always do. We didn't even talk shop all that much - except to share a few funny stories from our week. We had a fabulous dinner at a local restaurant (I had steak!) and stayed together for about 3 hours before heading home. We would have stayed longer, but was a work night.

Friday was girls night for me again. This time with local moms from the town we live in. These fabulous ladies - Athena, Emma, Karen......we try to go out at least once every other month. But Emma has a crazy work schedule, so we haven't been out in awhile. All four of us met last year when our kids were in Kindergarten. And our kids are all friends, and so it was natural for us to be friends too. Last night was so much fun. We tried a new restaurant (which ended up just being okay and we all decided we won't be going again) but stayed together for several hours talking and laughing. We caught up. And we don't have to spend the whole night talking about our kids, or school, or teachers. We talked about everything else. It was great.

Tonight I am going out with a girlfriend from work- Mindy. She has been on maternity leave this year, and we try to get together about every other month and catch up. She misses the gossip from school (and lately she is missing a LOT). We are going to dinner and then to see "The Back Up Plan". I am looking forward to seeing her. We always have a great time.

So three nights this week! I am gaining a ton of weight with all of this eating out. Thank goodness it is almost summer and we are outside doing yard work to help me work off the food.

Today Arlington had a softball game. Our first Saturday game, and I remembered to take the camera. Aren't you proud?

(Arlington is the kiddo in the back - near the fence - she was playing 3rd base)

They had a fairly good game. They have played this team before and they are really tough. It seems like most of the girls are a bit older.

But the game ended in a tie, which was good considering last time we lost. Badly.

And Arlington hit the ball both times up to bat today.

I was so proud. We have been practicing hard at home, and it is finally showing.

And she didn't play in the dirt one time! She paid attention to the whole game. Progress.

Today was a beautiful day, so all of us where outside quite a bit during the afternoon. We got a lot of yard work done today.

Our yard is not ready yet. I haven't gotten a single new plant in the ground yet this year.

But we are pruning and cleaning and patching and mulching. That should be just about done this weekend and then the fun stuff can start.

I would like to say Happy Birthday to my Pap-pap and my Aunt Renee. Both of them will be celebrating their birthday's on Monday, May 17th. This is my Pap's 90th birthday. Amazing!

And he is still very active. He is a wonderful guy and I am lucky to have such a great granddad. And my Aunt is equally amazing!!! I think she is turning.....21? Am I right?

Have a great weekend everyone! I will be cooking next week, so stay tuned for Making Meals Monday. After this week, they are all going to have to be lowfat!