Monday, January 28, 2013

Career Goals

There has been some fun going on for the past seven months at my house.

When we went to visit family in SC over Christmas, I realized that I haven't really made a formal announcement, so here we go...

I am now an independent consultant with Discovery Toys.
I had never heard of the company before June of 2012, but they have been around a long time.
Long enough that people who "grew up" on Discovery Toys are now buying them for their own kids.
I guess they just never made it as far as South Carolina.

I'm not writing this as a commercial for the products, though I could.
I'm writing this for two reasons.

Reason #1 - My family
I have never really known how to play with my kids.
Maybe I'm too busy.
Maybe I have no imagination.
But it's something I've always wanted to do better.
Now I am learning.
And enjoying.
And loving.
Even if I never sell another toy, choosing to be a consultant has changed my relationship with my kids forever.
For the better.

Reason #2 - Career Goals
I love staying home with my kids.
Some days I love it more than others.
But I have also sacrificed something.
Besides the money.
I love the feeling of professional accomplishment.
I love it when I am part of a team that gets things done.
The most important work I do is as a mom and a wife.
Now I can do something professionally that enhances that.
And still gives me the feeling of professional satisfaction that I crave.
And so in 2013 I have decided.
I will promote in Discovery Toys.
I will be a Team Leader.
I will increase the family income.
I will help strengthen parents' relationships with their kids.
Including my own.

Yes, I am recruiting.
Yes, I am working.
Yes, I am on the phone.
And going to parties.
And having grown-up adult conversations.
And going to Nashville for the DT Convention this summer.
And loving my family more when I get home.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I love having slaves children.
They really help out around the house.
When I hold the Wii hostage ask them to do something, they do it.

They will:
 pick up toys
load and empty the dishwasher
put away laundry
clean bathrooms
feed the dog
sort and wash the laundry
watch Maddox

On good days when they are getting along, they like to:
wrestle with each other
scooter outside
watch family movies
have dance parties

I like it when they get along.

I just wish they got along quieter.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Candid Cook: Chicken Veggie Penne

Is the beginning of a new year and everyone is trying to eat healthier, right?

In this family we have decided to cut back on our meat in an effort to improve our vegetable consumption.  When I was flipping through a small recipe book from Penzeys that was part of a gift I received, I was greatly intrigued by this delicious-looking dish so creatively named "Chicken and Vegetables with Penne".  It had the veggies.  It had a little chicken.  It had pasta.  What could be wrong with that?

The recipe was originally for a crowd, so I cut back on the ingredients to make something that would feed my family of 2 adults and 4 picky kids.  In other words, it fed me and Ben, our two youngest boys, a few bites for each of the girls, and then there was enough left over for Ben to take a generous portion to work one day next week -  assuming it lasts the weekend in our fridge, that is.  This is a definite repeat performer in this house, and I've had a friend ask for the recipe, so... I'm going to blog about it.  However, I hadn't PLANNED on blogging about it while I was cooking, so no, there aren't more pictures than this one.

Chicken Veggie Penne

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can use breasts if preferred)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle
                  OR a blend of basil, oregano, garlic, and thyme
Salt/pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic, minced or smashed
1 cup of broccoli florets cut into bite-sized pieces
8 oz penne pasta (I used the Ronzini Smart Taste, which we prefer over the whole grain pasta)
8 oz white mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 red bell pepper, chopped into large pieces
1/4 c. chicken broth or vegetable stock
Freshly grated Parmesan
Red Pepper flakes (optional)

Combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.  Dip the pieces of chicken in it to coat, and place in a baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray.  Sprinkle both sides with the herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Place in a preheated oven to bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until no longer pink inside.

While the chicken is baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add broccoli florets and cook for a minute or so.  Then remove with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water.  Set aside.  Use the remaining water to cook the pasta.

When the chicken is done, chop into bite-sized pieces and return to the juices in the baking dish.  Cook the quartered mushrooms in a large skillet until they are tender and starting to release their juices.  Remove from the pan and add to the dish chicken.  In the same skillet, cook the red peppers until they are just starting to get tender.  Add the broccoli.  Once all veggies are cooked to desired tenderness, add in the chicken, mushroom, and juices from the baking pan.  Add the additional 1/4 cup of broth or vegetable stock and mix thoroughly.  Add any additional herbs or seasonings as desired.  Before serving, garnish with Parmesan and red pepper flakes (if desired).

**NOTE: When I make this next, I'm using more broccoli.  We love the stuff, and I felt like there was too much chicken and not enough broccoli in my bowl. 

Better than Bouillon

Oh. My. Gosh.

This stuff is amazing.

I got it from the discount bin for $1.50 thinking it would be good to try.

I just made some stock for my recipe and tasted it.

The choirs of heavenly angels have sung, and I am converted for life. Perfect for any recipe calling for vegetable stock or any kind of chicken / beef bouillon.