Monday, April 20, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken

I know this recipe is all over the internet and has been for the past few years (wow, time flies).  As a matter of fact I originally posted this in January of 2012.  But, I am cooking this today and it smells so good that I thought I owed it to you to share it again (just in case you forgot about it).  So, here it is (again):

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker
(recipe follows)
Serves 6-8 (depending on the size of your chicken)

This is the "before" picture...I just put it in the slow cooker.

Rub Ingredients:
4 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp garlic pepper
 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Other Ingredients:
1 roasting or fryer chicken (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lbs per original recipe; note: I usually use a 5-6 lb chicken and cook it longer because I have a big family.)
1 medium to large chopped onion
1 pkg (16 oz) baby carrots or 4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped into halves or thirds
4 celery stalks, cut in thirds
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 lemon, quartered

  1. Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Remove chicken from packaging and remove neck and pouch with organs (Note: if you are planning on freezing the chicken before cooking, remove the organs and neck first because it is much easier than trying to remove it after thawing).  Discard parts.  Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Rub garlic all over outside of the chicken.  Put garlic inside the chicken.
  4. Rub the rub all over the outside and inside the chicken.  Add quartered lemon to the inside of the chicken.
  5. Place onions, carrots, and celery inside the slow cooker.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables.  Cover slow cooker and cook chicken on low for 4-8 hours (a 4 lb chicken will take about 6 hours and an 8 lb chicken will take about 8 hours.  The time will depend on your slow cooker and the size of your chicken).  Note: do not add any liquid to the slow cooker; I know it looks dry, but it will make its own juices.  Cook until the internal temperature of the leg is at 160ยบ or use a pop-up thermometer.
  6. Remove the chicken and place in a 9x13 glass baking dish.  Place baking dish in the oven under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes. 
  7. Serve.
Modified from

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sticks and Stones: Words Really Do Hurt

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me..."  This is what we teach our children, to not let words hurt them.  This phrase that we too learned as children, but we have learned to not be true, and it is something that we should not be teaching our children.  Words do hurt, they can hurt more than sticks and stones.

I haven't blogged (not a blog without a project) in quite some time now.  The main reason, and one that will plague me for the rest of my life, is that someone made fun of me.  I know, it's juvenile, but it still made me second guess everything that I said [wrote] or even did, and no matter how long ago it is, there will still be that nagging voice inside my head thinking "what will people say if I write this?"  Thick-skinned I am not, but I can take it much better from people that I do not know than people that I know and thought I was close to.  That is the problem, I knew them well, and they went out of their way to make fun of me and my blog and my life.  That being said, I know that I should not have let that bother me, but it did.  And it made me think.  Have I ever made other people feel bad about themselves because of something that I said?  That is when it occurred to me, words really do hurt no matter how old you are.

I have seen words hurled at others out of anger or stress and it was like a slap in the face for that person.  I have seen words hissed in moments of anger and watched the person react as if they had been struck.  Words can be poison, something that can never be taken back once they have been used.  People can forgive the person for saying them, but forgetting the words is another story all together because they affect you, change you, make you into someone that you were not before those words were used.

This brings me to our children.  Do you watch what you say to them?  Your words will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  Do your words make them a better person or do they tear them down?  In a moment of joking, do you tease your child and create some kind of self consciousness about them that wasn't there before?  Or do you build them up so that they can withstand the hailstorm of words that will come from the outside world during their lifetime?  Or maybe it is your quieter words, the "not right now" or "I'm busy" or "I don't have time for this" that make their eyes sting and their hearts feel heavy.  I have been guilty, I am sure you have been guilty, because I know that parenting is hard and sometimes you feel like you don't have time or you are busy or it is the last straw on your back that is about to make it break.  But just remember that in a few short years they will not want your time or your attention.  It will be you who wants their attention and when they tell you that "not right now" or "I'm busy" or they "don't have time" remember where they first heard those words and how to use them.  Remember that you taught them how to use words that hit the heart like sticks and stones.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homemade Teacher Christmas Gift: Hot Chocolate Mix

Christmas time: time of giving gifts.  I think that I have mentioned before that in another life (back in my 20s), I was a high school teacher. I always enjoyed the gifts given to me by students that were something that I could use and/or were homemade.  As my children have gotten older, they have acquired more teachers (currently I only have two of four in school) for a total of thirteen teachers (that is A LOT) this year.  I know that is a big number, and it will only continue to grow through the years, but I do think that it is important to give all of their teachers gifts to show appreciation for teaching my children.  With that being said, I decided to make the teachers a homemade gift this year. We (the children can help too) made hot chocolate mix in a mason jar.  This makes a big batch which made it an easy choice for making for several teachers (and we get to keep and use the mix that was leftover). 

Here is the final product:

Hot Chocolate Mix

To make the labels, I just created a design on the computer (in Microsoft Word), printed on white card stock, cut out, and attached the labels to the Mason jar with double stick tape. Tie a Christmas ribbon or twine around the top, and the present is complete.  I also included a round label for the top with a "To" and "From":

Hot Chocolate Mix

Materials Needed for Packaging:
  1. Glass Mason jar
  2. White card stock paper
  3. Double stick tape
  4. Christmas ribbon
  5. Hot Chocolate Mix (recipe below)

Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe:
2 lb box Nestles Quik
1 lb box powdered sugar
11 oz. jar Coffee Mate (Original)
8 qt. box powdered milk

Directions for making the mix:  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Sift ingredients together and store in jars.

Directions for using the mix: Fill cup half full of hot chocolate mix.  Fill 3/4 of the cup with hot water.  Stir to dissolve mix.  Fill the rest of the cup with milk.  Optional: add a dash of vanilla.

Note: This makes approximately 19 cups of dry mix.  I used about 3 cups per Mason jar.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bird Watching on Dixie Street

I never posted the blog below when I originally wrote it because it was too much.  Too much of real life and real feelings.  I feel as if now, almost two years later, I can finally post it and be "okay" with people reading this.  I know that everyone in life, eventually at some point, goes through a hard time. That is what life is, going through different experiences and trying to find some way to string them all together to make sense so that you can keep moving forward.  Sometimes these experiences define who you are and sometimes you try not to let them define who you are, but the reality is that without our experiences we would not be who we are.


Regrets, they make the world go round.  Some of us live our life with them.   Others live life without them, or at least they attempt to.  Regrets have a funny way of coming out of no where and blindsiding you on a random Thursday.  "I should have done this" or "I should have done that" seem to fill everyone's head at one time or another.  But, to live life with the weight of regrets on your shoulders will eventually break you.

I will be honest, I have regrets.  I regret that I did not try harder at sports when I was a kid.  I regret that I did not forgo the big bangs trend.  I regret that I was not always a good friend.  I regret that I did not study harder my freshman year of college.  But most of all, I regret that I did not call my father back.  I had the selfish thought that I could call him back later because there is always a later, right?  I still have his voicemail on my phone.  I have his voice saying my name, telling me how he was doing, he wanted to know how I was doing, and that he would talk to me "sometime."  That last word, "sometime," struck me as odd when I heard the voicemail the first time.  It still strikes me odd when I hear it today because he didn't say "later," but inferred some unknown time in the future. 

I cannot call my father back now.  Even though I have his number on my phone.  Even though more than anything I want to pick up the phone and hear his voice on the other end.  However, if I call his number now, nobody will answer.  I missed my opportunity because I selfishly thought there would always be "sometime" later that I could call him back, sometime when I was not busy.

It has been four weeks since my father passed away.  It was sudden with no warning, no goodbyes, and thankfully no suffering.  People are not perfect, and he never expected me to be, so I have to let go of the regret.   But, I still do not know how to let go of the sadness.  I know eventually it will seep from me, leaving me little by little until I can talk about him without feeling as if I have had the wind knocked out of me.  He once told me to always hold onto a good memory about someone because you never know when you are going to need it.  I know it will never be the same again, but one day it will hopefully be okay.  And until then, when I think of him, I will be picturing me at three years old lying on my back on a blanket beside my father watching the birds in the backyard of our house on Dixie Street.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week, Day 3

It is now Day 3 of Teacher Appreciation Week, and my kids have another DIY gift to give to their teachers.  This time it is a small jar (4 oz) of caramel cream cheese apple dip with Heath bar bits and a green apple.  This project is very simple.  Below are the materials needed and directions to follow. 

Here is the final product:

Apples and dip wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with ribbon and raffia.
And......I got to make labels again!

Label for the bag.

Recipe for Caramel Cream Cheese Dip:
(Makes 4 jars that are 4 oz each)
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (15 oz) tub of caramel apple dip
1 bag of Heath bar bits (I found this in the baking aisle)

In a small mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and 4 spoonfuls of caramel.  Use a hand mixer to blend well, until creamy.

Materials Needed:
  1. Cream Cheese dip (recipe above)
  2. Caramel apple dip
  3. Heath bar bits
  4. Green apple
  5. 4 oz Mason jar
  6. Medium-sized cellophane bag
  7. Ribbon
  8. Raffia
  9. White card stock to print out labels
  10. Printer
Final product of the Caramel Cream Cheese Apple Dip with Heath Bar bits.

  1. Make the caramel cream cheese apple dip using recipe above.  Spoon mixture into 4 oz Mason jar until the jar is about 3/4 full. 
  2. Carefully wipe any dip off of the jar that spilled.
  3. On top of the cream cheese and caramel mixture, drop a healthy spoonful of caramel.
  4. Top caramel with Heath bar bits (see picture below).Place lid on top of jar and close tight
  5. Make labels on white card stock for the top of the jar by using Microsoft Word.  Draw a circle and type in a text box inside the circle: "Caramel Cream Cheese Apple Dip with Heath Bar bits." Print.  Cut out circle and, using double stick tape, place on top of the jar lid.
  6. Make rectangle labels on white card stock by using Microsoft Word.  Draw a rectangle and type in a text box inside the circle: "A good teacher deserves and apple.  You deserve the whole tree!"  I used an apple clip art to add to the label.  Last, type your "to" and "from" information.  Print.  Cut out labels and punch a hole with a hole puncher in the top left corner so that you will be able to run the ribbon through it.
  7. Place jar in the cellophane bag and top with green apple.
  8. Using the ribbon and raffia, tie the bag shut (be sure to attach the label with the hole to the ribbon before tying in a bow.
  9. Give to teacher.
One last picture....

Apple Teacher's Gift

If you like what you see, please share or like or pin my post.  Thanks!

Click here to see Teacher Appreciation Week, Day 1
Click here to see Teacher Appreciation Week, Day 2

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week, Day 2

For the second day of Teacher Appreciation Week, my children are taking cookie jars to their teachers.  This is a post with two projects in one because for one of my daughter's class, she took a cookie jar full of cookies to her two teachers (Project #1).  However, for the other daughter it was a class gift for which I supplied the cookie jars for the two teachers, and all of the students brought a cookie for each teacher to fill her cookie jar (Project #2).

Here is Project #1:

Project #1

The lids have labels too:

Label for top of cookie jar

Another picture just because I can:

Project #1 Materials:
  1. Clear glass or plastic jar with lid.
  2. Ribbon
  3. Paper for labels
  4. Printer to print labels
  5. Double stick tape
  6. Cookies
Project #1 Directions:
  1. Print the labels.  To make these, I simply went to Microsoft Word, drew a rectangle, and typed the label: I am one SMART COOKIE because you are my teacher! Thanks!
  2. Print the "to" and "from" tags.  To do these, I again used Microsoft Word, drew a square, and typed the "To" and From" information.
  3. Cut out all labels.
  4. Using double stick tape, attach the labels to the cookie jar.
  5. Fill the jar with cookies.
  6. Tie a bow around the top.
  7. Give to teacher.

Now for Project #2: the class cookie jar gift.  To do this, one parent needs to supply the cookie jar(s) as shown here:

Project #2
This project also has labels on the top of the jar:

Labels for top of cookie jars

When you tie the ribbon at the top of the jars, make sure the jars can still open easily since students will be bringing cookies to put in the jars.

Make sure the lid can still be opened after the ribbon is tied.

Now, because the students are to bring a cookie to the teacher to fill their cookie jar, everyone's cookie needs to be wrapped individually in a clear cellophane bag (as shown below) or a clear zip-top bag.

Cookie inside of a cellophane bag

Because I seem to be label happy, I made a label for the cookie in the cellophane bag as well (directions are below).

Label to seal the cellophane bag

Project #2 Materials:
  1. Clear glass or plastic jar (large because it will be filled up by the entire class).
  2. Paper
  3. Printer
  4. Ribbon
  5. Double stick tape
  6. Cookie
Project #2 Directions:
  1. Print the labels. To make these, I simply went to Microsoft Word, drew a rectangle, and typed the label: We are SMART COOKIES because you are our teacher! Thanks!
  2. Print the "to" and "from" tags. To do these I again used Microsoft Word, drew a square, and typed the "To" and From".
  3. Cut out all labels.
  4. Using double stick tape, attach the labels to the cookie jar.
  5. Tie a bow around the top.
Project #2 Extra Information: Make sure the parents of the students in the class know to bring a cookie and which day to bring it to school.  Also, have them wrap their cookie in a clear cellophane bag or zip top bag.  I used a medium sized cellophane bag, cut the length of the bag to better fit the cookie, then closed it with a special label with double stick tape (see picture above).

Please share or "pin" this project if you like it, thanks!

Click here to see Teacher Appreciation Week, Day 1 Project.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week, Day 1

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at my daughter's schools.  The first gift that my children are giving their teachers is a jar of M&Ms:

Looks like a rainbow, right?  There is even a poem for the label:

And a great label idea for the top of the jar:

Now you want to make it, right?  Don't worry, it's easy!  I have found this project in several different places, but here is my version.  Below are the materials you need and the steps to complete the project.

Materials (for one gift):
  1. Clear plastic or glass container (mine is a glass container from Michael's) with a lid.
  2. 1 bag (14 oz) of M&Ms
  3. Ribbon to tie around the top of the jar.
  4. Double stick tape
  5. Paper
  6. Printer
  1. Separate the blue, green, yellow, orange, and red M&Ms into separate bowls (discard or hide in your closet and eat the brown M&Ms....I recommend hiding and eating them).
  2. Layer the M&Ms in the container.  Order (from bottom up): red, orange, yellow, green, blue.
  3. Make the label for the poem.  I went to Microsoft Word, found a rainbow border, typed the poem, and printed the label.
  4. Cut the label out to fit on your container.  Use double stick tape to attach it to your jar.
  5. Make the round label for the top of the container.  Again, I used Microsoft Word and found a round border, typed the "To" and "From" information, and printed the label.
  6. Cut out the round label and use double stick tape to attach it to the top of your jar.
  7. Tie a ribbon (hopefully you can find a rainbow ribbon, but if not use another color that is in the jar (red, orange, yellow, green, or blue).
  8. Give to the teacher!
Please share or "pin" this project if you like it!  Thanks!
Here are more pictures of the project (the bright colors were so photogenic that I could not help myself!):

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