Monday, June 28, 2010

A REALLY Easy Meal

Pasta alfredo is one of the EASIEST meals to fix! It doesn't take long, and the clean-up is simple too.

Now, I do take a lot of shortcuts with this, using purchased things instead of home-made, but we'll just keep that our little secret. I could go the home-made route...but who has time?

Start with a box of pasta of your choice. I tend to use penne pasta for this dish, but sometimes live on the wild side and use rotini. A bag of frozen broccoli is a must, but I suppose that you could substitute mixed vegetables if you really wanted to. Although I don't like spicy stuff (that's where my italian heritage steps back), I have found the Chicken Breast Meat for Fajitas from Schwan's to be really good. There's just a wee little bit of a kick to them, but not too much. Occasionally I've taken boneless skinless chicken breasts and grilled them on the George (Foreman), then cut them up.

I begin by boiling the pasta. (I always add a little bit of oil when I boil pasta, just to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.)

About halfway through the recommended time, I slowly add the frozen broccoli.

While that's returning to a boil, I take out the amount of chicken I want to use. That can be however chickeny you want your dish to be. Sometimes I add a lot. Sometimes I add a LOT. It's all a matter of personal preference. I put it on a paper plate, then put it in the microwave to thaw it and warm it up. Once it comes out of the microwave, I cut the larger pieces up, so that they aren't too large.

I also preheat the oven, then put the garlic bread on a foil lined cookie sheet. It only takes about 6 or 7 minutes to bake, so I put it in when I'm getting ready to mix everything together.

When the pasta/broccoli is finished, I drain it in a colander, then return it to the pot. I put the pot in the kitchen sink because it's just easier to maneuver and mix that way.

This is where I add the warmed, cut-up chicken, and mix a little.

Now comes the really hard part.

Open up both jars of alfredo sauce, pour them into the pasta/broccoli/chicken mixture.

Mix the sauce in. I used a rubber spatula because I had just used it to get all the sauce out of the jar. Why dirty another utensil? (Yes I have a dishwasher, but it's just as easy to use the spatula as it is to open the drawer and get out a large spoon.)

If you're really energetic, and have the various ingredients in the fridge, you can put together a salad too.

And there you go...a very SIMPLE meal, start to finish in about 20 minutes. Fortunately, Ted really likes this, so it's a win-win for us!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"You Boys Are Going to College!"

When our sons were younger, Ted would come home from work, more often than not, sore. His knees hurt. His legs hurt. His arms and back hurt. Occasionally, depending on what he'd done at work, he'd have a headache too.

Don't get me wrong...he really enjoys plumbing. Anymore, very little of what he does involves working on toilets, so the "gross" factor barely exists these days. He repairs and changes various gas lines and water lines. Sometimes, when the economy was better, he would work on new houses. He works on remodeling projects, changes water heaters, replaces gas and water services. The job is quite varied.

There isn't a thing wrong with being a plumber, trust me. He's extremely handy to have around. When we built our new home, he saved us thousands of dollars by doing all the plumbing himself. When something went wrong with the pipes in our old house, he was always able to fix them. He's been a real help to my parents with their various plumbing needs. In fact, sometime this weekend, he'll be going there to change a laundry tub faucet.

However, it can take a toll on a person's body, and he's had his shares of cuts, bruises, a trip to the E.R., time at the local orthopaedic office, and of course, many trips to the chiropractor.

He used to come home, occasionally moaning from the pain, and would look at the boys and say, "This is why you boys are going to COLLEGE."

They both heeded his advice.

One of his latest plumbing related issues was a fluid filled area below his left knee cap. The doctor entered the exam room, glanced at Ted's leg and said, "Holy sh*t, Ted, what did you do?"

It almost looks like an extra knee cap. His "real" knee cap is at the top, and the bursa is down a little bit. The doctor said it was "baseball sized."

The x-rays came out fine, thank goodness.

After checking it all out and having some x-rays taken, the doctor said that this came from kneeling so much with his job. Then he said he wanted to try an anti-inflammatory medication before anything else. That didn't help. In fact, the bursa was a little larger, so we went back to the doctor several days later.

It was a little larger by this time.

On the second visit, the doctor came in, and said it was indeed larger and that he was going to drain it.

Ted was laughing because I was taking pictures of the doctor's tools.

All cleaned up and ready to be STABBED and drained.

I thought it was quite interesting to see how the doctor inserted the needle into the bursa along the side, and sucked all that gunk out. He got out a fair amount.

After we left the office, we had to stop over at the hospital because Ted had to drop off the fluid that was drained, so it could be checked by the lab.

Fortunately, it was all okay.

This was the FOURTH time he's had a bursa drained near a knee.

And the boys are looking forward to returning to college in the fall.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Unwelcome Visitor

A few nights ago, around 11 pm, I was sitting in the recliner in our bedroom, reading a book. Ted was lying on the bed with his eyes closed, "listening" the Cleveland Indians game on TV. Joe and Alex were somewhere around the house.

Suddenly I heard the gate to the fence around the pool SLAM, then a HUGE splash. Being the brave person I am, I immediately woke up Ted and said, "Someone's in the pool!"

He sat up quickly and wasn't too sure where he was or what was going on. (Yeah, he was awake with his eyes closed...right). I called for Alex, to see if it had been him getting in the pool. He was in the kitchen. I called for Joe. He was in the bathroom. That pretty much led me to believe that it was someone other than the immediate family.

This picture is from a few years ago (pre-landscaping), showing how close the fence is to our bedroom. Never mind Marina, who thought she was a direct descendent of SpiderMan, and climbing the screen.

Ted got up, and instead of going out the door in our bedroom, went to the kitchen, then outside. He didn't see anything, so he came back in and got a flashlight. He went out, shone the flashlight all around the pool and saw nothing. Then he went inside the fence, and turned on the light in the pool.


I told him to look for water on the concrete and he saw a big splash mark by the deep end, then another, slightly smaller one, by the shallow end. By this time, Joe and Alex had gone outside to investigate too. Of course, I stood by the bedroom door to the outside and tried to stay out of the way, hahaha.

I said to Ted that I thought it was a deer. He concurred. We decided that the deer must have jumped the fence, but hit it with her hoof making the gate shake, then jumped in, swam across the pool, jumped out, and hopped over the fence again. They looked on the outside of the fence to see if perhaps there was an animal of some kind lying around, but there was nothing.

Case closed.

Or so we thought.

The next day, my folks came to use the pool and Ted relayed the whole story to them. I commented that the water level seemed really low. Ted said he had added water that morning. I said that something just wasn't right. He thought that the sun was really evaporating the water, but I disagreed. There was no way that the water level would go down 4-5" in a few hours.

As I went around the pool using the screen thing to get out a few bugs, I noticed something.

There was an upside down "V" shaped tear in the liner, near the top of the pool. We were losing water through the tear. There were also some hairs around the tear, that seemed to be consistent with those of an animal....probably a deer. Her hoof must have scraped along the edge as she went into the water.

The tear...and of course it was at the deep end, making it just a little more challenging for us to patch.

Ted went in and called the company that installed our pool, and talked to them about it, then went there to purchase a couple patch kits. They said that they've heard of this happening before, and we were fortunate that the deer got in, and then got out.

You can barely see the water line, along the lower half of the blue diamonds on the liner. The water had been up around the top of the brownish squares above the diamond.

Joe helped me patch the tear, but it's not pretty. Because the tear was in the rounded corner, I didn't have a flat surface to work on. I also couldn't stretch it enough so that all the edges met. However, it's patched, and we're not losing anymore water, and that's all that counts.

We don't mind people coming over and using our pool...but when it comes to wildlife, I just wish they'd wait until they were invited!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Three Things...

I was just reading posts at a teachers site I go to fairly often and one of them was quite interesting. The original poster asked readers to list at least three things they are horrible at. As I read through them, I realized that limiting myself to only three would be tough!

I thought about it, however, and these are what I feel are the top three things that I am NOT good at:

1. Housecleaning - I am a terrible housekeeper. I tend to let things go for as long as possible, then spend WAY too much time trying to get it all done. I don't think that our house has ever been all clean at the same time. Right this moment, the bathroom in our bedroom is very clean...but that's about it. Other rooms aren't necessarily dirty, just cluttered.

2. Doing things in a timely manner - This is a bad one for me. I'm the Queen of Procrastination. I put things off as long as I can, then put them off even longer. I'm absolutely TERRIBLE at getting cards sent out. I have several sympathy cards to send out to people I know, and their loved ones passed away as long ago as last November! I'm horrendous with birthday cards. I'm lucky if they get sent out within 6 months of the person's birthday. I put off doing laundry until I absolutely have to. I suppose procrastination is why our house is never clean. It's just one continuous cycle.

3. Being "girly" - I rarely wear makeup, jewelry, or fuss with my hair. I know I should make an attempt to look my best, but I guess it's just not important enough to me. I begin each school year by doing the makeup thing, toss on a little jewelry, and even mess around with my hair a little. But by the beginning of October, it's too much trouble. I don't get new clothes very often because I don't like to shop. Having to pick out an outfit to wear to work is NOT the highlight of my day. One of our teachers always looks so "pulled together" down to her nail polish matching her purse and jewelry. She can take things and match them up with other stuff and come off looking like a million bucks...must be as gift.

So, now that I've put it "out there" for the world to see, anyone else care to join me??