December 23, 2008

Chicken and Tortellini Soup

I'm always excited when I find a recipe that a) is easy to throw together in a few minutes with ingredients I have on hand, and b) my family will actually eat.

And I'm always happy to share them with you! So, here is what I made last night. It was raining, so I was in the mood for soup, but something different than the old stand-bys. And since it was getting late, I looked in my pantry and freezer for what I could throw together, and here is what I came up with. Everyone seemed to like it.


- diced onion: I didn't have an onion on hand, but I always have dried minced onion, which works just fine for something like this. Jay doesn't like onions, so I usually use the dried ones because he doesn't notice them, but we get the flavor.

- minced garlic: I love fresh garlic, so I always have it on hand. I used 3 cloves. Use whatever amount you like. If you don't have fresh garlic, use garlic powder.

- olive oil: just enough to saute the onion and garlic for a minute.

- chicken, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces: I had some leftover pre-cooked, sliced chicken with herbs in my freezer (about 1 cup) which was perfect. If I had used plain chicken, I would have added some italian herbs to the soup. Use more or less chicken depending on your preference.

- 1 can cream of chicken soup: I usually keep a can of this in my pantry, but if I hadn't had it I would have used some sour cream.

- approx. 4 c. water or chicken broth: I used water, and then threw in some chicken soup base.

- frozen chopped spinach: Trader's Joe's is really good. I used about half of a 1 lb. bag.

- cheese tortellini (dry): Again, TJ's is really good. I used about half of a 16 oz. bag.

- mushrooms, sliced: Fresh would have been best, of course, but I didn't have any. I usually have a small can of mushrooms in my pantry, which would have been about right, but I didn't have any yesterday. I did have some dried wild mushrooms in my cupboard though. I used about 1/3 c. dried mushrooms, rehydrated them in about 2/3 c. water, and threw the whole things in.

- parmesan cheese: I buy a huge hunk of this at Sam's Club, grate the whole thing in my food processor with the small grater attachment, and freeze it in small sandwich bags. I just pull a bag out of my freezer as needed. I use it on practically everything! I used about 1/3 cup for the soup.

- salt and pepper to taste

- Jay wanted it thicker, so I made a slurry of flour and milk, and stirred a little in, very gradually, until it looked right.

Serve with any good bread.

December 18, 2008

Sheraton Auction

Jay and I attended a Christmas party at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown last night. It was lovely, as usual. If you want to enjoy a nice weekend there, you might consider bidding on this weekend package for two as part of the Latte-versary in support of NieRecovery.

But hurry.... the auction ends tonight at midnight Arizona time.


Christian was in town for just about 24 hours to take care of some things. He looks good and seems to be in good spirits. He was especially happy to be without the back brace he has had to wear for the last four months!

Today I spent most of the day baking dinner rolls for my nephew's Eagle Scout project (providing Christmas dinner for 15 needy families.... and no, I wasn't the only one making rolls) and cinnamon rolls. My house smells so good! I really enjoy baking... wish I had more time to do it.

Tomorrow is the last day of school (1/2 day) before Christmas break. I'm looking forward to having some fun with my kids.

December 16, 2008

Pink Grapefruit

Every time I get a coupon for Bath & Body Works, I can't resist using it. I love anything that smells good!

Several years ago, I discovered Pink Grapefruit from their signature collection. It was love at first sight... I mean sniff. It's sweet and fresh and makes me happy! I bought every product in that scent.

Sadly, they have discontinued it. Fortunately, a friend warned me, so I was able to stock up before it was gone. Since I don't like any of the other "pink grapefruit" scented products I have found from other companies, I will have to make my stash last until Bath & Body Works decides to bring it back.

They will bring it back, won't they?

P.S. I just noticed that my second-favorite scent from B&BW, "Tropical Passionfruit," seems to have disappeared too! Yikes! At least they still have my third-favorite, "Mango Mandarin." Can you tell I'm a "fruity" person? By the way, I love to EAT pink grapefruit too.... the fruit, not the lotion.

"Kipper the Dog"

When Collin was a toddler, we discovered "Kipper the Dog." We all fell in love! I bought a bunch of video tapes, which have been well-used as each additional child fell in love with Kipper too. I frequently found myself sitting down to watch with them, because they are just so cute and sweet.

As we got ready for our garage sale last month, I pulled the old "Kipper the Dog" videos out of the back of the closet. My kids hadn't watched them for a couple of years (sadly, I don't have a toddler anymore), so I added them to the pile of stuff to sell.

When my kids (9, 7, and almost 5) discovered what was to be the fate of these tapes, they about cried, and begged me not to sell them. I actually felt relieved, for I hadn't wanted to sell them either; I discovered I had quite an attachment to them. The next thing I knew, my kids sat down and watched them all (each one is only about 30 minutes). I heard them in fits of giggles and just had to join them.

So, those old video tapes remain on the shelf with the DVD's. And I guess they always will.

Someday, maybe my grandchildren will fall in love with "Kipper the Dog" too.
On Saturday, my little singing group had their performance. It was much more low-key than in the past, which means less-stressful. It turned out really cute. The kids did a great job!

"Son of Rambow"

A couple of weeks ago, Jay and I watched this delightfully quirky film. We really enjoyed it. I laughed and cried. The two boys who star in it will steal your heart!

*Caveat: We watched it with ClearPlay. It's rated PG-13 for language and violence, mostly because it includes some scenes from the film "First Blood."

December 12, 2008


Collin and Mary like to spell things when they are emphasizing a point. Jack likes to do the same... even though he doesn't know how to spell. For example:

Jack: (yelling) I AM BORED!

Mom: Well....

Jack: C-E-K !

Mom: (laughing) What?

Jack: (still yelling) WHAT DOES C-E-K MEAN?

Mom: (still laughing)


Mom: (I can't do anything but laugh)

Jack: (in a normal voice) A-O-A-A-K means I am bored, OK?

Mom: (trying not to laugh) OK.

Jack: That means I want to play with some of my friends. OK? OK? OK?

Mom: OK!

December 11, 2008

What do you think?

In case you missed this on CJane's blog......

"From Nie Reader Jolleen-

Channel 3 is having a vote right now to see who the top AZ story of 2008 is. Although they did not list Stephanie and Christians' story (not only the accident, but the story after it), I think they should have! If they pick it up and it wins, maybe it will continue to get coverage and continued support! (Channel 3 and their website have had a few segments/articles about them already.)
So, why not ask Nie supporters to email, and tell them their vote for the most unforgettable story of 2008 is Stephanie and Christian Nielson and their amazing road toward recovery. As well as the vote, add a comment about how we think the most Unforgettable Story of 2008 should be one that personally touches so many people and spans across such broad aspects of life: death, tragedy, family, fear, faith, technology (blogs), community, medical miracles, service for strangers, a world praying for and donating to a family they have never met, and LOVE."

December 09, 2008

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas

Well, it's that time of year.... busy, busy, busy. So, yes, I haven't had much time to blog. But here's an update.

Our little dinner party the week before Thanksgiving went well. It was supposed to be at my house, but at the last minute my mom offered to let us have it at her house because they were going out of town. Her house is much better for parties, so it turned out great (and since I only live 1.5 miles away, it's convenient). We had a lovely dinner of garlic chicken with mushrooms, roasted potatoes, green beans, salad, and rolls, with Pumpkin Crunch for dessert. (I will post some recipes later.)

Our ward boundaries were realigned in November and so our ward grew quite a bit. Jay was called to be the executive secretary and has been busy setting up appointments with all the new families, plus tithing settlement.

Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing. I only had to make the rolls! We spent it with Jay's family this year. That weekend we also bought our Christmas tree and decorated. It's easy to decorate my house for Christmas because, a) my house is small, and b) I hardly have any decorations.

A few days later, I managed to pull off a progressive dinner for our Relief Society (the organization for women in our church) including writing a parody for the bishopric to sing, about the ward. I was really nervous how it would be received, but it everyone seemed to like it... there were lots of laughs, and apparently no one was offended. Whew! The bishopric is going to do it again at our ward party this Saturday. Thanks to all the other fantastic women on the committee, the evening was a success... good food, a fun program, and we had a great turn-out.

A couple of days later I had "Activity Days" (8-9 year old girls from our church) at my house for a Christmas activity... we decorated cookies and had a white-elephant gift exchange, which was a new concept to the girls, and I wasn't sure how it would go over, but it turned out really fun and they were all good sports.

On Sunday, my family (my parents, siblings and their kids) got together for dinner (which we do at least once a month). We bundled up and pretended it was cold by eating outside on the patio. We ate about 6 different kinds of yummy soups, several kinds of salad, and delicious rolls, and drank hot spiced apple cider. Then we went caroling to a few of my parents' neighbors... we were a big group, so we made quite an impression. The kids had a blast! Then we went back to the house for some Christmas stories, and hot cocoa and cookies. (It's that "over-eating" time of year too!)

This week I'm finishing up the last of my Christmas shopping, and getting ready for my music performance this Saturday. Then I can breath a sigh of relief. I'm looking forward to Christmas break... catching up on some reading, and maybe working on a few projects that have been on my list for way too long.... like several years.

December 07, 2008

Joy to Everyone

Here is an early Christmas gift. Please view this incredible video. Learn the story behind it here. And you can download it here, free.