Sunday, August 26, 2012

CrockPot Butter Chicken

I was asked by several people for this recipe so I am finally sitting down to type it out.  The original recipe "Slow Cooker Butter Chicken" I found on I have tweaked it some so I renamed it.

We love Indian food. Dion took me out for our anniversary a couple of years ago to an Indian place and I tried Butter Chicken for the first time. It was so good that I had to try and find the recipe.  Unfortunately the authentic recipes call for cooking it in a certain clay pot and had things I couldn't find.  So I tried to find an Americanized version that at least came close to it. 

This is NOT as good as the authentic but it is as close as I've come so far, and the whole family loves it. Its also less fattening that the original...which is always a good thing, right??

CrockPot Butter Chicken

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 large, skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into     
   bite-size pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon curry paste (I buy this in a tub at the Asian   
2 teaspoons tandoori masala (an Indian spice mix)
1 teaspoon garam masala (an Indian spice mix)
2 (6 oz) tomato paste
7 black cardamom pods ( or 15 green which is what the 
   original recipe had, but I didn't want  to go buy green 
   when I had black)
1 (14 oz) coconut milk
1 cup Kefir cheese (or yogurt)
Salt to taste

Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in chicken onion and garlic. Cook and stir until onion is clear, about 10 minutes.  Stir in curry powder and curry paste, tandoori masala and garam masala and tomato paste, until no lumps of paste remain. 

Pour into slow cooker and stir in cardamom pods, coconut milk, yogurt/cheese and salt to taste. Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours.

Discard cardamom seeds before serving.

You can tie up the cardamom in a piece of cheesecloth for easy disposal after cooking. I just throw them in and warn everyone to watch for them on their plate and keep count when found. Its like a cracker jack surprise! LOL! They are large and easily identifiable. 

We eat it over rice and have a side of naan bread and hummus or Tadzhik. 

Hope you enjoy this as much as my family does. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Here I Go Again

It appears that one thing all three of my children now have in common would be homeschool.

Yes, after 3 years of tears and crying and begging to be homeschooled we finally decided to give Mouse what she wants.

Hah. She has no idea what she is in for. LOL. Songbird will tell you that homeschool is the only time she EVER went through an entire text book.

All three of my children have ended up at home for different reasons. I am far from anti-public school. I'm all about WHAT WORKS for THIS child.  And lets face it, that's not always a traditional classroom. For my son it was a terrible fit. For my second child public school is the perfect fit. She did come home for a year because she thought it looked like her brother was having too much fun.  She couldn't take it. I put her back in public the next year. (I have non-negotiable one year commitment rule- no school hopping.)

Mouse has always wanted to be homeschooled. That was actually part of the reason we didn't. She was a Velcro child and wouldn't even speak to other adults for a long time.  She needed a degree of separation.

I also wanted her in a system that is used to identifying problems and disabilities. She has adoption related issues and we did not know if any of that would carry over to learning disabilities and such.

Unfortunately we moved into a failing district. They've been a failed school since before we got here...and they still are going on 4 years later. And darned if it isn't in the same subjects that my daughter is failing in.

After working with the teacher last year we pinpointed many of the problems. And many of them require a little bit more from a teacher but not outside intervention, if that makes sense. But there is no time for the extra in the classroom. So she is one that will fall between the cracks. Its the nature of the public school beast. At least this one. In another district this might or might not be the case.

So we have a kid who is barely keeping her head above water and destined to start failing by the end of fourth grade.  Add a school system that can't help. And we have jobless parents with no money to send to a private school. Add to that the extremely unstable day to day operations as daddy tries to find a new career.


With all this homeschooling looks good. It gives the individual attention she must have to get on track with reading and math and be able to succeed in school.  It gives the flexibility to travel with daddy to interview cities or for house hunting or whatever may come. And if we hit the point where we run out of savings before that job is found...then it makes moving into the travel trailer oh so much easier as transportation will not be an issue depending on where we end up parking. Lastly, it makes the transition to our new location that much easier when we do move.

Lots of reasons to do this.

Except the funds.


What they have now that they didn't have when the older two were homeschooled is Public School at Home. They send all the materials at no cost. Including a computer if you need one (we didn't).  Its still the same number of hours. Its their lessons. She still is assigned a teacher for us to meet with and work with when we need help.

And she is beside herself happy.  It was like Christmas when the boxes came.  She is on cloud nine. Its been fun (and a little scary honestly) to watch.

Right now we are still working on some assessments so they can figure out how to start her out and what they can do to work with her issues.

But Monday starts a whole new chapter for her.  She is counting the days.


I almost feel like a heel for ever having sent her to public school. Almost.

This year will tell on many levels whether this was good or not. And I am not above changing things if it doesn't work.....

I actually look forward to revisiting the decision come next August. I am very curious to see how this child ticks.

But tonight.....all I can do is sing over and over in my head....

Because Here I Go Again ......

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pinterest Project #9

In an effort to organize all of Mouses school books and make them easy for her to find I did a search on Pinterest for organizational ideals.

Someone had posted magazine holders they had covered in colorful paper to coordinate. With this is mind I made a stop at Ikea on my last trip. They did have some rather cheap paper files but I was concerned about their ability to stand up to an 8 year old. So, for $2 more I bought the metal holders instead.

I knew I wanted to label each one so I picked up a couple of packets of magnets to stick to the front.  My label maker was then used to label each magnet so Mouse can easily identify what she is looking for.

For my books I didn't bother labeling.

This wasn't the bookcase I wanted to use but it is the only one (also purchased at Ikea) with tall enough shelves to handle the holders.

It worked out very well and isn't an eyesore in the living room, which the paper holders would have been.

Thanks again Pinterest!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guess What? She's Black.

Gymnastics: U.S. Olympic Team Trials

I tried to leave this alone.  I really, really, really tried.

But it just burned inside my heart and my head.

You see, some people were really upset and took offense to the fact that the press said this amazing young woman was the first African-American to win gold in this event for America.

And I was stumped.

Their point was that she is AMERICAN and to point out her race was to be divisive. And our country needed to stop being divisive about race.

And my point was that ignoring the most visible part of who a person is (their appearance to the world - the skin) was to "whitewash" them which implies there is something wrong with being anything other than "white" or colorless.

But we aren't colors they said. We are AMERICANS.

Umm....even the youngest child can tell you that we ARE most certainly a color. (Which goes even deeper as each color has a heritage to share also.)

And that's where I personally think the problem lies in this country.

Not in the fact that we all need to be "the same".


We all need to be respected and loved for the fact that we are exactly who we are.

To pretend we aren't something is to imply that there is something WRONG with being different from you.

My daughter is Chinese.  And the most insulting thing a family member ever said was that they don't see her as Chinese...she's just part of the family.

Excuse me???

She IS Chinese and there is NOTHING wrong with that.

If you have to "whitewash" her and strip her of the most visible part of who she is, that is not being inclusive or showing value and accepting her as part of the family.

Its just the opposite.  Its saying that being brown is something to ignore.  It's saying that being Chinese is shameful. Its saying that being a different color than you is not okay.  It's saying you can't see her as she is. Its saying you want everyone to be the same.

And we aren't.

We are different.

And its GOOD.

Not something to hide or ignore or pretend isn't there.

And until white America gets a grip on that, the decisiveness is here to stay.

Because, white America, you aren't the one that has to be something other than what you already are.

Everyone else does.

Gabby is an amazing, black, American Olympian.

And I see her color.  

And it is glorious.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Because a Girl Can Dream....

The political climate right now is insane.

Its devastatingly sad.

Because I remember a time when different beliefs were an American icon. They were something to celebrate. They were a reason to consider America great.

Now its the nastiest hate fest imaginable.

You can't go on fb without reading how you are the most vile of persons from your own circle of friends if you have a different view.  The ugly names are flat out shocking. You wonder if they really feel that way about you.  And it makes you a little sick...because we are all so much more than this issue or that one.  Do my friends really think that of me because we disagree on that one subject? 

And I've become convicted on this subject in my own life and regret any of this behavior I may have participated in. I bitterly regret it. Its wrong.

How did this happen?

And I'm sure you have seen both sides post how if it wasn't for this group we wouldn't have this...and vise versa.

YES!!! But not in the way its meant. 

The truth is all parties and sides have given us great programs and laws and privileges. No one school of thought has a corner on that market.  Its the combination of all groups contributing that makes this the most amazing country.  Or did.

And even though I didn't vote for our current president, I did hold the hope in my heart that he was what he said.......change and transparency.

A girl can dream. And I did. I hid my crossed fingers behind my back in the circles that didn't vote for him and hoped and prayed that it was all true. And I was disappointed. Its all more of the same old thing that we need to get rid of, to me.  But that's MY opinion and I don't go shouting it at people that feel differently. (should I add anymore there?)

And I'm so so tired of character assassination. From all sides. From anyone.  

I want to hear about the issues.....not the mud slinging. 

I personally have believed things and changed my mind. I have done bad things and had to atone for them. I have made uneducated decisions and been educated. Its all a part of living and growing up in this life.  I have never been nor do I strive to be perfect - because its not even possible. And I don't expect perfection from anyone else either. Not even our political candidates. They can all make mistakes and they can all change their minds on issues.  As long as they are sincere in that I will not ridicule them for it. I will not start a smear fest. I will not murder their good name.

What I'd really like to know is what will it take for regular American's to step off of this hate fest? What will it take? Someone else going first? Well, I'll go first. I'm stepping off this bad behavior. I will listen to other views that are stated in respectful ways. I might not ever agree, but I will agree to disagree with style and grace. Because THAT is American. 

Of course that will probably just make me an even bigger target, but I'm ok with that. I've never fit into any box neatly anyways. I'm always the odd man out in any gathering of people.  And even that is ok.

And I'll hope and dream a little more this year. Not about a candidate...but about the people relearning to treat each other with respect even when they disagree. 

Because a girl can dream.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Week In Louisville Kentucky

I've been MIA again.  Yes, was another trip.  This one without my kids.

Last week I spent 6 days with three of my favorite, all time people. The girls made it to the National Fine Arts Convention (they don't like the word Competition) for Assembly of God teens for the third year in a row. Pretty impressive.  And this year it was held in Louisville, which is only 3 hours away.

So I offered to be an extra pair of hands. And my offer was accepted.  I packed the car up yet again and went for a ride.
I did take advantage of an opportunity to stop and fill up a big blue bag. But more on that at a later date.

We all arrived the night before the beginning of a week of presentations and classes. And I could do a whole post on how it was the worst hotel stay I have ever, ever had. From broken refrigerator, fried toaster, no ventilation, a drunk maintenance man and a horrible, rude and arrogant manager.  Expedia and will be hearing from me. I promise. But lets not go all the way into that.
First day was pretty much registration and getting schedules for the girls presentations. We also figured out where to park in downtown Louisville and how to find the convention center.
We explored the convention center and found the rooms the girls would be presenting in. Like the first day of school, its just comforting to know where you are going to be the next day.  One of the other things the girls were interested in was finding the horses around town.

Tuesday was a day off so we took a drive to a state park with an old school house and Abraham Lincoln's father's old log cabin.  We had a picnic and then went out in a paddle boat.  Very peaceful and relaxing day before presentation day.

Wednesday was all business and a long day at the convention center.  Both girls finished with Excellents and I was so proud of them. I love the fact that they compete every year in so many categories.

And let me tell you, this is a fantastic convention. All these kids (15,000 this year) that are so talented! Every thing from drawing, painting, photography, speaking, signing, singing, songwriting, bands, vocalists, acting, etc.  I enjoyed some of the urban dancing in down times. So fun.
Thursday the girls and I took a trip to Indiana to a cave and working gristmill, old fashioned soap shop, candy shop, candle shop and bakery. I didn't realize the girls had never been to a cave before so that made it even better.

All too soon it was time to return home so we snapped a quick shot.

And Friday was full of retrieving paperwork and scores, classes and preparing to travel back home.

What a great week. So glad it was in my back yard this year!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Punching A Time Clock

Songbird has joined the ranks of the working.  Well, she has actually been babysitting this summer so technically that would be her first job, but it wasn't consistent and was two houses down so it didn't feel like a first to her.

Since there is no progress in the job hunting realm, we decided to go ahead and let Songbird apply around close to home.  She doesn't have her license because we can't afford the insurance and she didn't have a job. And we didn't want her to get a job after she got out of school because we are supposed to be leaving. (By the way, this marks month 8 of me saying that. Bet you are as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.)

Anyways, she put in a whole lot of aps but then got a call pretty much right away. Seems there were people she knew working there and they put in a good word for her. Interview lasted about 10 minutes. They need people when the kids go back to school at lunch rush. Perfect timing for her to apply.

So she was told to show up Friday.  We did have to do a little bit of work as in Ohio you must have a work permit if you are under 18. You get said permit from the school -- and yes it costs time and MONEY. The purpose of the work permit is to keep kids in school. If you drop out you can't get a permit and can't work. I think its a great program on one hand - to keep kids in school. But if a person has dropped out it keeps them in poverty....and many drop outs have babies so I don't like that aspect of the program.

 But Songbird was graduated and is no longer affiliated with the school so it made no sense to me that she would need a  permit. A copy of her diploma, sure, but a work permit? So I know just enough to be dangerous after working for attorneys and found the actual Ohio statute on the exemptions and ran a copy of it up to her work with a copy of her diploma and crossed my fingers.  I really did not want to fork out the money for the work permit...and by law it turns out I don't have to with a diploma in hand.  I'm sure they never had this come up before and that is why they wanted it anyways, but I was nervous because you just don't know how that will go over in a brand new situation like that.

Apparently it was fine and my baby started work. She is so proud.  She is working at a Sub shop that is very close to home.  Close enough to walk if the situation arose.  But we will be working on getting her license since she will have the income to pay the insurance.  And I didn't want her sitting here spinning her wheels in limbo like the rest of us.

So she is a happy camper now. Tell her congrats if you see her.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Shouldn't

But I will because being treated hatefully while being called a hater is just so freakin typical.

The pot calling the kettle black.....

So this whole Chick-fil-A thing is a mess. And if it wasn't an election year, and so many voters weren't frustrated with an administration that ignores the process set in place for government and does what they want while claiming executive privilege, this whole thing would not have blown sky high.  Newsflash: its a whole lot more about politics and frustration and a whole lot less about hating gays where the average Joe in the drive-thru lane is concerned. Just so you know. Although there are always those that are just warped on the subject.

For the record, I am not anti-gay.  And I do not for a minute believe we should be lobbying to have an actual amendment defining marriage in the traditional sense.  That is church getting too far into government and I'm not for that. And I don't understand the Biblical stance on this issue.

But I also believe my Bible is true and correct, divinely inspired and written by men with the hand of God on them. I don't believe it is full of errors because men wrote it -- because again, I believe the hand of God was on them as they did.  That is what I believe.  To believe that it is full of mistakes makes no sense to me. If it has one mistake it is all worthless in my opinion. That is my core belief.

So the whole gay issue I just don't understand.  But I don't have to understand everything. I don't even have to agree. I just have to do my best to live according to my Biblical principles and allow others to live according to theirs.

Because the number one message I get from Jesus in the Bible is LOVE.  It is my job to love. Everyone.

And another really important Biblical principle I do my best to honor is not to Judge.  Judgement belongs to God and nobody else. We are to stay out of that business. So, in my opinion, those that use hate speech or actions against anyone in a same sex relationship deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the hate crime laws. I feel the exact same way about abortion.  It is my job to follow my Biblical principles in running my life. That should keep me way to busy to worry about someone else and their principles. And its Jesus' job to save - not mine.

And speaking of judgement, God doesn't rate sin.  A liar is as sinful as a thief is as sinful as a person that covets is as sinful as using the Lords name in vain is as sinful as adultery is as sinful as gossip is as sinful as being gay. Now show me someone in your life that has never gossiped. Get it? Its all the same.  And you don't cut off people that have ever lied or WHY would you do it to someone that is gay??

We ALL sin. I personally sin almost every time I get behind the wheel of a car. I don't pay enough attention to the speed limit far too often.  And sometimes its mindless and sometimes it purposeful -- either way is a sin.  Because we are under government authority and should render unto Caesar.....  I don't make excuses for it.  I don't try to argue that that passage is misinterpreted. I don't say its wrong because I don't understand it. And I don't attack people that do follow the speed limit. 

Another thing the Bible teaches is that non-believers are not to be held to the same standards as believers.  Its in there people.  So why would you go after others that don't even hold to your Biblical principle? We are not supposed to do that.

So there are all kinds of ways that the "Christians" have abused this subject that just are not right.  You pretty much deserve the way you get boxed into a corner and called hateful on that hand. Your only stance should be that you follow this Biblical principle in your own life because its YOUR moral compass. You should not be trying to MAKE others follow your own convictions and religion. You are supposed to be spreading the message of love and good news...not hate.

And now lets turn this around.

Those that hate me and call me names and do hateful things to me because I live my life according to my Biblical principles are every much as guilty of hate crimes as those that do the same thing to gays. So far the media has shown many more hate crimes BY gays and their supporters than to gays in this particular incident. Since most large media groups tend to be pro-gay, this is saying something.

And their hatefulness is something to be proud of? Their hate crimes are acceptable in the name of what? Equality? Fairness? Tolerance??? Two wrongs make a right?

Hate and ugliness is NEVER excusable.  Never. Ever.

And trying to destroy a business because you don't like its Biblical Principles and groups they support? That's different from protesting gay marriage how? Acting hateful in protest to someone you say is acting hateful negates your stance.

These two opposing sides are NEVER going to agree.  And its not just intolerance (well not for most), its Biblical principle vs. non-Biblical (or other-biblical) principle.  The two sides are not playing by the same rule book.  One side CANNOT understand the other because they aren't meeting in a place of common ground.  They can't. They don't even speak the same language.

So how about the Christians do a little Bible study on love, Judgement and holding others to your standards? And the pro-gay stop hiding their hateful acts and language behind "they were mean to me first"?  If each party did these things they would end up leaving each other alone. No amendments against gays and their rights. No destroying businesses for believing in traditional marriage.

Never going to happen.

Because real bottom line is too many people want to be hateful and self righteous. On any side of any issue.

And you can call me whatever name you like. I don't measure my self worth by anyone's standards but my own. And I don't even have to tell you what they are. I just have to live my life by them.

And love my neighbor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Busy Busy

I promised I did not fall off the face of the earth when I got home. I did try though. LOL.

Lots of furniture moving, reorganizing and changes going on. Sadly, none of them are related in any way to a new job. But whatever.

More soon....