Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 13

I tried another new recipe tonight...Taco Bake! I'm really happy with the way it turned out, too, so I'm adding it to the rotation.

It was really easy to make! I browned some ground chuck and seasoned it with taco seasoning. (We hardly every use ground beef, because ground chuck is so much more flavorful.) Then I put a tortilla shell on a baking dish and alternated taco meat, shredded cheese, and tortilla shells until it reached the top of the dish.

I covered the dish with some aluminum foil and baked it for about 20 minutes on 350 degrees. I was afraid the shells would dry out, but they were actually still moist when they were finished baking. I didn't put anything else on top, but you could certainly add lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Marc also said it would be better with some sour cream and/or guacamole. (Two things I rarely eat...)

Marc always says I use every dish we own when I'm making dinner. (Ha!) So tonight, I was nice and only used one pot/lid and one baking dish, along with a spoon and spatula, so clean up was really easy!

I'm debating about what to make for dinner tomorrow night. I had planned to make something new in the Crock Pot, but then I found out that we have a faculty meeting that has the potential of running really long. I'm kind of scared to try what I had planned, because I'm not sure how long to cook it. Oh well, I may need to look at Plan B!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 12

Another Monday is in the books!

I only had one college field experience student in my classroom today, and she'll be here all week and most of next week. I had also prepared to administer an important test this morning, but we had to call it off because our school site was blocked. Nice!

I tried two new recipes today:  Pulled Pork and Cheesy Biscuits. The pork was absolutely delicious! It was so easy to throw everything into the Crock Pot this morning, and it was ready when I got home this afternoon. I cut the recipe for biscuits, and well, they didn't come out that good. They didn't rise like they should've, so I'm pretty sure I messed up the conversions somehow. I'm going to try them again soon, though!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 11

Normally, we do our grocery shopping on Sunday mornings after church. That didn't work out for us this morning, though.

Right before we left the house, my head started hurting. Not a big deal, I just took some medicine. Then on the way to church, I started having all the signs that I was going to have a full-blown migraine. I didn't want to tell Marc because he had to serve at church, and I thought the medicine I took earlier was going to kick in. No such luck!

After Marc was finished was finished serving the Lord's Supper, he could see that something was wrong, and he took me home. I slept for a few hours, and when I woke up, my migraine was gone. (Love Imitrex!) We went late this afternoon to get our groceries.

While we were out, we picked up some lobsters. Marc is from shoreline Connecticut, and grew up going to the lobster pounds to pick up lobsters that were caught the same day. On the rare occasion that they go on sale down here, we pick up a few, and he steams them. So this is what we had for dinner tonight:

He always separates mine before he takes it to the table. (And they really blend in with my Fiesta platters!) Right now, he's cleaning up all the dishes like he does every night after dinner. I love that he's willing to do that every night because I hate doing dishes!

So, tomorrow it's back to work!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 10

We've had quite a busy day! We woke up at about 7:30 this morning, which is pretty late for us on a Saturday. After making a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns, and biscuits, Marc and I quickly cleaned up the house. (I've been doing really well sticking to my daily housekeeping schedule! I did miss a couple of days' laundry, though, due to those stupid migraine headaches.)

After doing a couple of other housekeeping things, we went to see Atlas Shrugged Part 2. Last weekend, we bought four $25 gift cards for Rave Motion Pictures for a whopping $12.49 each. So, today we were able to buy two movie tickets and popcorn, and we still have $4.00 left. I love deals like those!

We also had to run a few more errands while we were in town. Then we headed home to make dinner - coconut shrimp and baked potatoes. Last year, I found a recipe for coconut shrimp that was just as good (if not better!) than Outback. There is even a recipe for the orange marmalade that they serve it with listed in the comments. Perfect!

I also made baked potatoes in the Crock Pot. I rubbed them with olive oil and little sea salt, wrapped them in aluminum foil, and put them on low this morning. They were done when we got home, and they were so good! 

(Sorry the picture is blurry! I took it with my phone.)

I have one more load of laundry, and then I'll be done for the night! Oh, and tomorrow night might end up being an eat-at-home night, too. A local grocery store has lob-stah (my Eastern seaboard husband's favorite food!) on sale!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 9

Last night, Marc ate at home. I was so excited to try a new recipe that was passed along to me by two different friends, only I was too sick by dinner time to actually eat it. Boo!

Yesterday morning, I threw some boneless chicken breasts, taco seasoning, and salsa into the trusty Crock Pot with high hopes of making chicken tacos. It sounded too easy to be good, but I was going to give it a try. But it wasn't meant to be...at least for me.

Unfortunately, I started seeing sparkly stars and my hands started to get tingly around lunch time so I knew a migraine was coming. Since my prescription medicine is pretty strong and knocks me out, I had to wait until I got home from that afternoon to take it. By then, I had a full-blown migraine. I ended up falling asleep sometime after 6:00 and slept until 5:30 this morning. No dinner for me!

Marc made the chicken tacos using the chicken, gordita shells, shredded cheese, and sour cream. (He also may or may not have had refried beans with them.) He said it was really good, so it's going to be a keeper. I can't wait to try it one day!

Tonight, we finally made it to Red Robin!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 8

We're still on a roll! Today was our 8th day this month to eat at home! 

It's been so nice to not have the nightly "discussion" over what we're going to eat. You know how it goes..."What do you want for dinner?" "I don't know. What sounds good to you?" "I'm not really in the mood for anything in particular." "Well, when you decide, let me know." And it goes on, and on, and on!

Now we make a menu and a grocery list, go grocery shopping on Sunday morning after church, and stick with our plan. No more nightly trips over the mountain to get take out, either. We were wasting a TON of gas doing that, even though we usually took Frank, Marc's new car. Between Frank and not going over the mountain twice every day, we've cut our weekly gas budget from about $150 to about $50. And, as a bonus, we've also been able to cut back on our food budget as well since we don't eat out every night. 

On the menu tonight was Crispy Shrimp Jambalaya. I found an awesome recipe for the shrimp on Pinterest, but I really didn't like the pasta and sauce that went with it. I like the spicy jambalaya so much more! I also made some garlic bread to go with it. It's so easy to make, which is perfect for Wednesday nights. (Did I mention that we have a faculty meeting every Wednesday afternoon?)

I'm going back to the trusty Crock Pot tomorrow night. I'm going to make a recipe that was passed on to me from two different friends. So excited to try it out!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 7

Tonight I made one of my favorite dishes: Poppyseed Chicken Casserole.

A few years ago, I wouldn't touch a casserole! I didn't like foods to touch on my plate, much less mixed together in a baking dish. Blech! 

Then I found a recipe for Poppyseed Chicken Casserole. The recipe called for things I would eat individually, and it just sounded really good. So I put aside my weird food issues and stepped outside my comfort zone. Since I could see what was going into the casserole, and I could control it, I felt much better about trying it. I fell in love with it!

Even to this day, though, I don't know that I would be able to eat it if someone else made it. And I'm still not a huge fan of casseroles. But this is one I can handle, and it's a perfect comfort food for cool fall days!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 6

I made something tonight that Marc has been asking for since we first got married 14 years ago. A POT ROAST!

My mom used to make pot roasts every other Sunday. That was one of my dad's favorite meals, so she would get up early and get one going before we left for church. I can still remember what it smelled like when she would sear the roast, and to be honest, it was a smell that I couldn't stand! 

After church, Daddy would drive us straight home, change his clothes, and sit at the table waiting for his pot roast. As we got older, it was easier on my mom to go out for dinner after church. I loved when that happened!

Then Marc started begging for pot roasts, and I finally gave in last week and bought all the ingredients to make him one. Last night, we cut the potatoes and carrots so I wouldn't have to do it before school. Then, this morning, I threw them into the Crock Pot, along with some beef broth. I seasoned a HUGE roast with some salt, pepper, and garlic and laid it right on top of the vegetables. 

When I got home this afternoon, the smell of dinner hit me when I walked in the door. It smelled good, but I still didn't eat any. Marc, though, had a big plate full! Man heaven! And there's a ton left over for him to take for lunch tomorrow.

To say he was thrilled is the understatement of the year!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 5

Marc and I decided to switch out our "Eating Out" night this weekend. 

My goal was to only eat out on Friday nights and Sundays. However, we were so cold and tired from being at the range all day yesterday that we decided to grab some take-out. That meant not eating out tonight. So, Marc made Sweet and Sour Meatballs, and I snacked all night. (I was working on paperwork for school and nothing really sounded good!) 

We also got everything prepped to throw in the Crock Pot tomorrow morning. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something that scares me to death! Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 4

We did it! We ate at home four nights in a row!

This afternoon, Marc had to meet someone at 5:00 across town so he was going to be late getting home. He called me after work to see if I wanted to go to Red Robin to eat dinner. (He has a free birthday burger coming...) As tempting as it was, I told him that I really wanted to cook tonight. (Gasp!)

I've had a crazy week filled with three meetings and four different interns hanging out in my classroom. The last thing I really wanted to do was cook tonight. But that was my goal, and I stuck to it! I have to say that I'm really proud of myself!

On the menu tonight was shrimp scampi with pasta and garlic bread.

It was quick and easy to make and oh so good! Now, we're going to eat tomorrow night, because I've earned it!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 3

Okay, I'm getting better at this! 

In less than 30 minutes, I made brats and fried potatoes. Marc was in man heaven...He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy! 

Now, I need to finish doing the laundry so I can watch Survivor. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 2

Today has been pretty rough!

I woke up a little after 3:00am with excruciating pain in my ear. After waiting on some medicine to kick in, I had about 30 more minutes to sleep before my alarm went off.

I had yet another field experience student in my classroom today to observe. (My third person in two days!) I really don't mind them being in there, but I never get a planning break because I'm having to answer questions.  

Then to top it off, I had to go to the doctor to get my ear checked. Turns out that I have a really bad ear infection. I guess I should've gone in when it first started hurting a couple of weeks ago. Oops!

Anyway, as bad as I wanted to just pick up take-out, I didn't! I dropped off my prescription and headed home to cook these little yummies:

(Picture borrowed from the linked website.)

My sweet mother has been making these sandwiches for years! Every baby or wedding shower she has hosted included these sandwiches, probably because they are so simple to make, and they freeze beautifully!

I ended up making enough for tonight and another batch to freeze for later. I'm looking forward to making them on a night in the future when I'm too tired to cook!

*This is the recipe that is closest to my mother's recipe, except she uses shredded cheddar cheese. I use cheddar or Swiss, depending on what's in the fridge. I also use Woeber's Supreme Honey Mustard instead of Dijon mustard. I like that it gives it more of a bite!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Eating at Home: Day 1

Marc and I eat out WAY TOO MUCH! Not only is it really expensive, but we usually pick unhealthy junk. So, my goal this month is to eat more home-cooked meals. 

Part of the reason we eat out so much is that I'm absolutely exhausted when I get home from work every day. I have to be "ON" for about seven hours a day, and it wears me out. My classroom ranges from calm to chaotic at any given minute depending on what we're doing, and sometimes I feel like the ringleader. 

So, in an effort to be more organized, I made a monthly menu this past weekend, along with a detailed grocery list. And by gum, I'm going to STICK WITH IT! I'm going to cook every night except Fridays and Sundays. We're also planning to go out this month for Marc's birthday and our anniversary.

Tonight, I made stuffed bread with pepperoni, ham, and provolone cheese! (This is not my bread. I borrowed the picture from the linked website.)

Oh my! It was so good! I've always been scared to make it, because Marc is used to his Italian mama's stuffed breads. But he loved it! (And it wasn't hard to make at all...a huge plus for me!)

I'm going to definitely use this recipe again. It's a keeper!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Road Trip!

Two of my favorite words: Road Trip!

Marc had to drive to Birmingham to pick up something he had purchased down there, so we decided to make a day of it. He decided to take "Frank" on his first out-of-town trip. I mean, let's face it, "Frank" gets a whopping 35+mpg, so it was a no-brainer!

"Frank" on the interstate

I really wasn't in the mood to go when Marc first mentioned the trip to me. I've had a ton of school work to do lately, and it seems like I never catch up no matter how hard I work. My plan for that day was to get a couple weeks' work done, so I could have a breather during the week. Oh well, the best laid plans...

He persuaded me to go when he promised to take me to the Cheesecake Factory. (One of my favorites!) He also said we could go to World Market and HomeGoods. 

The Novel Menu

There are so many yummies on the menu that it's always so hard to decide what to eat. We decided to get an old favorite and to try some new things. Stepping out of my comfort zone, if you will.

Crab Wontons
(We always order these. They are so good!)

Sweet Corn Fritters
(Something new for us. The verdict's still out.)

Chicken Sliders
(Good, but way too many!)

Marc ordered the Shepherd's Pie, which was also new for him. He really liked it, and it was a huge, man-sized portion. We were both so stuffed that we decided to skip dessert. Imagine that!

After lunch, we picked up Marc's purchase, did a little shopping, and then headed home. Fun day!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where I Spend My Days

So, this is where I spend my weekdays. (And lately, most weekends, since we were given ONE day to prepare our classrooms!) Everything is clean and shiny and waiting for my students to walk through the door on the first day of school. 

Looking in from the door

The Morning Meeting Area

My Beloved ActivBoard

The (Now!) Empty Counter

The Math Area

Our Reading Focus Wall/Reading Center

Our Math Focus Wall/Center Table

My (Sad, Boring) Desk 
(that we're no longer allowed to personalize.)

My Table
(where I meet with my students every day)

The Students' Storage Area

From the Students' Point of View

We're making the switch to digital curriculum this year. Every student will have his/her own laptop, which will be interesting. We're also teaching Common Core standards this year in addition to the Alabama Course of Study standards. Oh, and did I mention that we merged with the middle school and have an all new administrative team? 

It's going to be a year of changes and hard work, but I'm ready to face the challenge. Here we go!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Little Bit of Paradise

Part of me doesn't even want to share these pictures, because I'm afraid that word will get out about this little piece of Paradise lost...

Marc and I decided to take a little last minute getaway before going back to school/work. We booked the trip about two weeks out so it was just enough time for me to plan a few things, but mostly we just wanted to relax on the beach. 

After a six-hour drive, we arrived in Navarre Beach. It is a quiet little town right on the Gulf on a stretch called the Emerald Coast. It lies almost exactly halfway between Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach, but it's not touristy at all.

After dinner on our first night, we went over to the beach to check it out. I have to say this is the nicest, cleanest public beach I've ever seen in my life. Absolutely beautiful! There were plenty of parking areas, public access boardwalks, and nice picnic/restroom areas. 

The only green flag day we would have...

Marc and I strolled up and down the beach and watched the sunset. It was stunning! The best part? The beach was empty!

The next morning, we got up early and ate a nice (free!) breakfast at our hotel. It was supposed to rain later in the day, so we wanted to make the most out of the time we had. It ended up being an overcast day, and it started to rain around lunchtime. So, we headed back to the hotel, freshened up, then headed over to Pensacola for some delicious soul food at Five Sisters Blues Cafe. (I highly recommend them!) Later that day, we headed back to the beach and stayed until dark.

The next day was absolutely gorgeous! It was a yellow flag day, and the waves were nice and big!

Marc and I staked out our little piece of the beach, played in the waves, and chilled in our chairs.

I can see why they call it the "Emerald Coast."

Marc taking a break from the waves.
(Notice all the people around? NOT!)

Soaking up the sun!

Marc was in heaven searching for shells! I swear he could stay in the water all day long!

He found a crab!

Cute little guy! (The crab, too!)

Unfortunately, a huge wave washed our underwater camera out of Marc's hand. We've had the worst luck with that thing! He also opened it underwater a couple of years ago when we were in the Bahamas.

We stayed and watched the sunset. There was also a full moon that night, and it was stunning! A perfect ending to a perfect trip!

So, if you're ever in the mood for a quick getaway to a beautiful beach that is never crowded, head down to Navarre Beach. On the other hand, you could always go to one of the other more populated beaches, like Destin or Panama City. 

We'll stick with Navarre!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Little Something to Remember Our Trip

I picked up a little something to remember our trip...

Dooney & Bourke Disney Fantasy
Inaugural Cruise Tote

The pictures don't really do this bag justice! I love the colors and that it has the Fantasy and the Wonder (the two ships we've sailed on) prominently on both the front and the back. 

My only gripe is that it's missing the stitched leather Dooney & Bourke logo that is on the prototype pictures:

So, after speaking with several people at both Dooney & Bourke and Disney Merchandising, I'm going to send it in for "repair." Disney Merchandising offered to replace the whole bag, which is not what I wanted due to placement. Dooney & Bourke offered to take the bag I have and stitch the logo onto the bag. The only catch is that I would have to wait until the end of July, because their repair shop closes for a month. 

So, I'll have to miss my beautiful tote for a little while, but I think it will be worth the wait!

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Dreamy Sight

On the last night of our cruise, I was out on the verandah and saw this beauty!

The Disney Dream

The captains did the whole horn battle, which as awesome! What a neat surprise!

Castaway Cay Evacuation

During our cruise, there were three medical evacuations. The first one happened during our first sea day, when one of the cast members was hurt. The captain had to make a detour and got as close as he could to land. Then, they used one of the lifeboats to take her in for treatment. 

The second evacuation happened when we were in St. Thomas. One of the guests got sick, and an ambulance met them at the ship.

The third evacuation happened as we were getting ready to leave Castaway Cay. The child of one of our DisBoards/Facebook group families got severely sick and had to be evacuated using a US Coast Guard helicopter. 

As I took pictures, I tried to be mindful not to take them of the person's face in respect of their privacy. I also did not post them anywhere until the child's mother as me to. So, yes, I did have permission to post these pictures. 

It was such a scary thing to watch! I'm happy to report that the child is back at home and doing much better. 

Castaway Cay

On Friday morning, we arrived in Castaway Cay. Marc and I went to the PremEAR of Brave 3D, which started at 12:01am, so we decided to sleep in. We woke up just as the ship was backing into port, so we had plenty of time to sit down for breakfast at Cabanas one last time. After that, we headed right down to Deck 1 to disembark.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was in the upper 80s with a nice balmy breeze...Perfect for spending a day at Castaway Cay!

The Disney Fantasy

Dumbo and Timothy

Marc and I hopped on the tram and headed over toward the snorkeling lagoon. We found the perfect spot to put our stuff, and then went over to get our snorkeling vests.

Our Piece of Paradise for the Day

The snorkeling lagoon was a little busy in the morning but calmed down after lunch. Because there were so many kids kicking up sand at the shore, the water was a little hazy. So, we headed out further and found that's where they put all the good stuff. We found a sunken Mickey, Minne, submarine, and ship. There were also lots of fish, some coral, and a few friendly stingrays. (Marc has the best luck with finding stingrays!) 

We snorkeled for about two and a half hours before eating lunch at Cookies. They had ribs, grilled chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, fruit, etc. It was so good, and we were starving after snorkeling for so long. After lunch, we went back to the snorkeling lagoon and stayed for another two and half hours. 

Castaway Cay's Snorkeling Lagoon

At about 4:00pm, the clouds started rolling in and the wind started picking up. We turned in our snorkeling vests and decided to walk around to take some pictures. 

The Fantasy from a Distance

My favorite picture from the trip!

We made our way back up to the main walkway so we could start heading back to the ship. It was getting darker and windier as the day went on. 

Marc and Me

Running Man!

One More Look Back
See Ya Real Soon!

And back to our home for one more night!