All about passion…

If you were to ask me – pretty much any given day – any season of the year, “Where’s Jonathan?”

Nine times out of ten the answer would be, “He’s playing ball.”

Basketball.

His love affair.

This kid eats, drinks, sleeps, breathes, walks, talks basketball.

When he’s not playing ball at the Rec, he might be at Training. (He works with a professional basketball trainer – a great honor.) When he’s not at the Rec or at Training, he’s probably at JV2 basketball training at the high school. Or at a game. Or at the elementary school up the way playing ball. Or at a friend’s house playing ball.

Have I mentioned that Jonathan loves basketball yet?

Yeah – this kid knows all about passion and the motivator it can be to excel.

I am so proud of this kid.

He’s starting to think about his future seriously.

He’s thinking he’d like to try out for the JV team next year. I’m thinking he’ll make it.

He’s thinking if he makes JV next year, he’ll try out for Varsity his Senior year. I have every confidence he’ll make it.

And he’s thinking UCLA would be a really great place to go to college and play ball.

Basketball, of course.

I love that he has dreams.

Have I mentioned how proud I am of this kid?

Just have to share some great pictures that one of the dads on the JV2 team has shared with the rest of the team. Of course, Jonathan features prominently! πŸ™‚ He’s number 22.

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Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

When I was planning out the dinner menus a couple of weeks ago I was searching for things that seemed – you know – different, but not all that scary. Keeping in mind that I have two of the pickiest kids on the planet eating here – I must be very, very careful when testing the waters!

I found a couple of Crock Pot Sloppy Joe recipes and I thought, “Hmmm, those could be okay.” It got scheduled for Thursday evening of this week.

I should interject here that I don’t think we’ve EVER done Sloppy Joes as an actual meal. John likes them, buys the canned sauce, and when the urge hits (about once a quarter?!) he’ll make some up. I always think they smell good – but that’s about where it’s ended. My last experience with them is likely way back when – when I worked/lived at Sambica – and we had them fairly regularly. They weren’t awful, the kids always loved them. I figured – kid friendly food, right? We’re gonna give this a go!

So, I did a little web search, and came up with two contenders for the recipe we’d use. They were:

This one from www.myrecipes.com – a web site that I’ve recently rediscovered and find that I like quite a bit.

And…

This one from www.southernfood.about.com – which seemed a little simpler – and John thought we would like better than the other offering.

So, Thursday morning – before I got ready for my interview – I threw together the second recipe – only I modified it a bit for us – cause, well, I know us!

Ingredients:

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 cup chopped celery
1 (12-ounce) bottle prepared chili sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
ΒΌ teaspoon ground black pepper
Toasted hamburger buns

The original recipe calls for diced green peppers – I’m allergic to them, so they got omitted. The original recipe called for THREE pounds of ground beef. Good grief! That’s WAY too much. I wondered about the 2 pound quantity, but figured if the boys liked it – we’d be glad we had that much.

I actually had to run to the store to purchase a couple of groceries before starting this – and hit upon a bit of a moral dilemma. Here’s the thing – I’m completely unfamiliar with chili sauce. Do you know anything about it? Use it regularly? I mean I’ve never – in my life – purchased or tasted the stuff. Here I stand in the aisle at WinCo debating the choice between Heinz and the “Homemade Chili Sauce” – the latter, as you can see from the photo below – I ended up choosing. I ended up spending a little more – BUT – the real shoe in for this one is the fact that there was no HFCS in it. Gold star for the makers!

So pretty easy ingredients, right?

Oops – forgot to include the Worcestershire sauce in the picture! Here it is. And I choose this one – once again – because there is no evil HFCS in it.

I just used my handy chopper for the onions and celery:


I love this thing!

Then I browned the ground beef – which had virtually NO fat on it – so I skipped the draining step; and then I threw the beef and veggies into the Crock Pot.

And then I dumped in the chili sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Seriously – took maybe five minutes to do all of that. Just gave it a good stir – and voila!

At that point all that there was left to do was set the heat on the Crock Pot on low, throw on the lid, and move on with my schedule for a very, very busy day!

Went about my business – and later that afternoon after a lovely second interview with the very nice place I’d interviewed with previously – I walked into the house and smelled a wonderful smell – the Sloppy Joes!

“Hooray!” thought I. “They smell great – I’ll bet we love them!”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I will say – for ease of preparation – total gold star. These are a cinch to throw together, and then to put them in the Crock Pot and not have to worry about it until time to serve – lovely. We served them on hamburger buns; William, of course, added cheese to his. Jonathan actually had to leave for basketball practice before dinner time – I offered him one before he left and he looked at me with this horrified look on his face and said, “I DO NOT eat Sloppy Joes. It looks like dog food!”

Have I ever mentioned that my boys are picky eaters?

I will point out – however, that they look NOTHING like the food our dog gets fed. I don’t know what the kid is thinking of!

ANYWAY, when John and I, Jessica and William sat down to eat – we had the following thoughts about this recipe:

John: It’s too sweet. WAY too sweet. If we were to make it again – totally eliminate the sugar. In fact, next time we make it – we ought to just use the canned sauce.

Me: It’s too sweet. It’s okay. But, well…. Not sure I’d want to serve this for a meal again in the future.

Jessica: Well, they’re okay – but, well, they’re camp food! (Remembering she worked at camp all summer long and didn’t especially love the food.)

William: I HATE Sloppy Joes. Cheese doesn’t even make them any better. YUCK!

So – consensus: we’re never making these again!

It was a good idea in theory – in practical reality, not so much!

Back to the drawing board!

Catching up…

What a couple of weeks it’s been!

First – my desktop computer – it croaked. No warning whatsoever. One minute it was working beautifully – the next, dead as a doornail. Thankfully I have a rocking warranty on it, and so I called the Dell folks, spent copious amounts of time on the phone with tech support, they had me try pretty much everything short of standing on my head and juggling oranges – and deduced they needed to send out replacement parts and a tech. They overnighted parts, the tech arrived with the parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?!

NO.

So… the tech calls tech support, reports the outcomes, they decide to send MORE parts. But, of course, it’s the weekend before a major holiday, and so a WHOLE WEEK goes by before said tech calls again and reports he’s got the parts and wants to come by. I said, “By all means!” I mean HELLO! I’m addicted to my computer. May as well cut off my left foot without it! So he comes by, he replaces said parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?

NO!

EGAD! So then they say – “Um… well… We’re basically gonna have to replace your computer!” Which, in theory, sounds great – right? New computer, 2 years into the rocking warranty. (Thank you Jesus that the hard drive is in good order!) Right?! But get this: 2 to 3 weeks to receive said replacement computer.

UGH!

So, I’m pretty much just limping along on the laptop. THANK YOU LORD JESUS for the laptop! Oh, and the wireless network! BUT – all of my files – everything – are on the hard drive of that desktop, and well, yeah – it’s been a little bit traumatic.

So forgive me for my absence – not having the desktop has sent me for more than one loop! (Okay – yeah, I get it! I’m an addict – a computer addict! I know! I just don’t see anything to do other than embrace it!)

THEN…

The laundry room sink – original to the house (aka VERY old) – you know, the old cement kind? Cracked. Big time. And then a bit of a flood ensued. And the landlord had to be called, and stuff had to be replaced. Praise the Lord for good landlords!

THEN….

The washing machine broke. Had to get that fixed. Praise the Lord that happened on a pay day – and while it hurt to pay the $163 to fix it – it got fixed. Cause, honestly, I’m about as addicted to my washing machine as I am my computer! Thank you Jesus!

THEN…

Brace yourself…


(John visiting me in the hospital this summer.)

Remember how I was pretty much sick all summer long? (Well, honestly, it was since April 24th, to be specific.) And how I was in and out of the hospital May to September? And how the last time I was discharged from the hospital they had me go NPO (nothing by mouth) and sent me home with IV antibiotic infusions five times a day and TPN (IV nutrition) for 16 hours each day?

Yeah, I remember, too.

Well, on the 18th of November (the day the computer crashed) I went for a follow-up Upper GI. Guess what we learned!!

ALL.

HEALED.

UP.

THANK YOU JESUS!!!

So, 9 weeks to the day from the time I went NPO (September 19th, 2009) I took my first sips.

It was soup broth – nothing earth shaking – unless, of course, you’ve just spent 9 weeks ingesting NOTHING! I spent that Friday through Tuesday doing liquids, and then on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the wonderful Dr. Zelko (my amazing surgeon here in town who takes such great care of me) called and gave me the go ahead to eat whatever the heck I wanted to! I like Dr. Zelko so much! J

Great timing, huh?

Needless to say, Thanksgiving was full of lots of reasons to give thanks!


(Great-Grandma’s Toffee Cookies – for Thanksgiving, of course! Famiily tradition lives on!)

We had a great get together with family early in the day, and had the great privilege of getting to have a second Thanksgiving celebration in the evening with our very dear friends.

I got off easy – I brought the dinner rolls! I will concede they were pretty darn yummy.

Oh! And my African violet – which I’ve never had success keeping alive in the past – did this:

THEN…

In the midst of all of this – life has continued to go on.

Like…

Jonathan (the goofy kid on the right)… drum roll, please…

MADE THE JV2 BASKETBALL TEAM!

Woo Hoo!

We are SO proud of him!

His first game was Tuesday night – they creamed the opposition – 68 to 30-something. Go team!

And like…

Our girl Jessica – who unbelievably enough is a Senior this year (How?! Where did the time go?!) has…

  1. Been accepted to one college.
  2. Gotten her applications, essays, scores, etc. submitted to all of the rest of the colleges she wanted to apply to.
  3. Concluded she will likely go nuts waiting to hear the outcomes of said applications!

I, on the other hand, will try not to freak out about the fact that my BABY is in our home for the last Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, etc. as a kid… She will soon be out on her own. Sniff… I miss her already.

And…

William continues to be William – or ahem – BiL, as his friends know and love him – and give us all great cause to smile – and laugh out loud – just being who he is – a really, really cool kid.

In the Hip Chick Chronicles part of life, the 2009 Chicks are growing up!

Our flock has settled right at 30 girls. We were averaging about 10 or 12 eggs a day until we kept them shut in the chicken yard for about a week and taught them WHERE they are supposed to lay their eggs. We had a 20 egg day the other day – amazing!

Crayon has recovered from her molt and is no longer naked! Good thing, too – it’s been downright cold, and is supposed to be bordering on frigid in the coming week!

Scarlet – at the grand old age of 8 months old – has decided she wants to be a Mommy. She’s been broody for nearly a week now. If it were summer I’d buy fertilized eggs and let her set them. But the dead of winter? I think not.

Scarlet, by the way, was once deemed our special needs chick. If I had my desktop here I could upload a photo that showed you how she got her name. As just a wee thing she somehow got the top part of her beak caught somewhere – and it pretty much ripped off – and when we found her – she was all bloody. One of the kids – a boy, I’d venture! – said we should name her Scarlet. Somehow it stuck. At first we worried quite a lot about her – she was underweight compared to the other girls her age. But she’s compensated JUST FINE, thank you very much. She’s actually quite sweet and I believe would be great Mommy material. I keep wondering if we should have her bottom beak trimmed, though – it seems so weird that her beak is so uneven!

She’s a Cuckoo Maran, by the way, who lays the most gorgeous deep chocolate brown eggs – when she’s not broody! The copper coloring along her head and neck is so pretty. There is such a thing as a Copper Cuckoo Maran – I’ve wondered if that’s what she is!

AND, maybe most potentially world-rocking of all…

It has become quite obvious that we need additional income.

We’ve scrimped.

We’ve eliminated perks.

We’ve given stuff up.

And it’s just not enough.

So I’m looking for a job.

I actually got called for an interview. We’ll see what – if anything – comes of it. It was for a wonderful place, with very nice people, doing a job that I believe I would be very good at. I could be quite content with said job!

So lots to thank the Lord for.

As always.

Gosh, it’s good to be His!