Friday, December 30, 2011

Nothing since MAY!

Wow, I feel bad! I have been crazy busy this last 7 or 8 months! Work is, well, work. I love teaching and it is what I want to do for the rest of my "work" life. I've been teaching only world history this year and if you are a teacher, you know how great it is to be able to focus your planning time this way!

My Mom passed away at the end of July and started another crazy ride in my life. Between working towards settling the estate and refurbing the house I grew up in so that my family could move into it, the last 3 or 4 months have been a struggle. Just when you think you've got something fixed and finished, something else pops up to drive you insane! Don't even ASK about the hot water heater! LOL

I wanted to pop in and say hi and let you all know I'm not dead! And, I'm going to repost an old favorite recipe as it's what's for dinner tonight! The recipe is Frank's Buffalo Chicken Dip and I hope you all like it!

This one is actually a repost of a repost... I am making it tonight, so when I thought about it, I thought I'd reshare it for anyone who may have missed it! This is an awesome bake and take dish for covered dish stuff--especially with WLS postops! Tasty and full of protein! I double the recipe, but I only use about 2/3 cup of the buffalo wing sauce as no one here really likes too much spice! I've made it with the canned chicken AND with freshly cooked chicken breast that I shredded myself. Either way, it is delicious, nutritious, and a hit with any group--family or potluck!

Servings: 3 1/2 cups dip | Prep Time: 5 min. | Cook Time: 20 min.

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup FRANK'S® REDHOT® Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cans (9.75 oz. each) SWANSON® White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast
in Water, drained


1.HEAT oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.
2.MIX in salad dressing, Frank's RedHot Sauce and cheese. Stir in chicken.
3.BAKE 20 min. or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers or vegetables.

1.Microwave Directions: Prepare as above. Place in microwave-safe dish. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 5 min. until hot, stirring halfway through cooking.
2.Tips: You may substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken.
3.Slow Cooker Method: Combine ingredients as directed above. Place mixture into small slow cooker. Cover pot. Heat on HIGH setting for 1 1/2 hours until hot and bubbly or on LOW setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir.
4.Tailgating Tip: Prepare dip ahead and place in heavy disposable foil pan. Place pan on grill and heat dip until hot and bubbly.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nag, nag, nag... LOL

Do I know how long it's been since I posted??? Yeah, I do! A friend from WV (hey Randy! hey Alice!) emailed that he and his wife have been watching here for some sort of update... It is great to know that folks still think about me from time to time! But, life has been too crazy to get here very much. It will be 3 months since I posted on May 21st! SO, I guess it is time?? LOL

I'm still teaching high school social studies. As you may recall, I got handed a class of Advanced Placement (AP) world history students this year--literally the week before school started. This meant that I got NO time to prepare for teaching this college level class and I had to start doing it without even the time to read and get a chapter or two ahead of the kids. It is a challenging course to teach under any circumstances. THESE circumstances made it more so. I have spent every week from August 16th till last week running just a few days ahead of the kids. There is so much to read and learn as you go through the course for the first time. And, there are no answers to anything to help you be sure you've come to the "right" conclusion yourself! I've found many valuable resources as the year has gone past. The largest of those has been a group of other AP world history teachers who offer support and resources via an online listserv. I can't tell you how much of my sanity those folks have saved this year! And, it will continue as I've been informed that I'll have 2 classes of AP world history next school year. I've got 51 students registered now, so that will be classes of 20 to 30 students each. That is a WHOLE lot of essays to score each week!

In addition to learning how to teach the course, the course itself is a race from the first day of school to the world history AP exam in May. You have only so many weeks to get them through 10,000 years of history and then review it all in the short time between finishing the covering of the material and the exam date. We had 2 weeks left for review. We'd originally planned about 3 1/2, so we lost over a week due to various things.

All in all, I think the year has gone well. My evaluation by my principal was awesome and I am looking forward to doing it all again next year. The good part, though, is that I will be attending a College Board sponsored AP world history workshop for a week this summer. The workshop is conducted by one of the well-known names in the AP world history game--Bill Strickland. He's been a wonderful fount of resources this year and I look forward to this face to face chance to learn more. Even better, the workshop is 2 hours from home in the lovely St. Petersburg, FL area and the funds were available to cover a hotel room, so it is like a mini-vacation with the workshop!

BTW, we won't find out how the kids did on their exam till July some time...UGH!

The AP world history that I taught was in addition to various other social studies classes--American history, regular world history, and American government. I also taught a whole trimester of reading back at the beginning of the year. Next year is supposed to be (fingers crossed) the two sections of AP world history and 2 sections of regular world history, which will run sort of parallel to the AP world history if I work it right... Plans are underway!

Life... Well, it has been crazy as I said! I'll celebrate 5 years since surgery on August 29th and I must report that my weight is up as a result of not taking enough time to take care of me... I did have my annual labs done in April and those were good. My iron is holding in the low range, not slipping lower. I'm sitting uncomfortably in the 240s these days. That is a gain of about 35 to 40 pounds over the past 2 years. I maintained between 205 and 210 for a very long time--like a year and a half. Then, the pounds started slowly creeping on about the time I started teaching full-time. I know that part of the problem is that I am not eating protein snacks like I did when I was home all the time. And, I can't blame anyone but myself. I haven't taken time to exercise. I haven't addressed the food choices and schedule. I do an okay job when I am at home, but the carbs have sure creeped back into my diet. And days when I forget to bring lunch to school means eating the school lunches. I swear those kids probably have feathers sprouting in their armpits from all the chicken they eat, but it is always breaded... Ugh! And, the school lunches are always carb-laden... One that they do regularly is terryaki chicken (which isn't too bad), but they serve it over white rice with a roll on the side and it is accompanied by either broccoli OR black beans AND a syruppy fruit cup. I hate paying $4 for some chicken and some broccoli or beans! I can tell them to keep the rice and the roll, but if I am hungry, I don't always do it. If the roll is whole wheat, I choose that. Otherwise, I eat some rice...

Good choices? No, not so much! I still keep sliced cheddar cheese in my mini-fridge. I still keep pepperoni slices in there, but it isn't the turkey pepperoni because it isn't available in a store brand here like it was in WV where we had the Kroger brand... I still keep my iced tea unsweetened and add Splenda. I don't drink ANY water...just the tea and I know that this can be a factor for weight loss/maintenance. I've gotten back to keeping protein bars in my desk again--just the Atkins Advantage chocolate peanut butter ones, but they're affordable and better than some out there. If I get hungry mid-morning OR if I fail to get breakfast before school, I can grab one of those towards the end of my second class and get me through to lunch.

What can I do about this weight gain? What do I plan to do? Well, school gets out on June 9th and teachers' last day of work is June 10th. Then, I have 10 weeks to figure it out!
Step 1--cut the carbs! I'm working on it, but every time I have a really good day, I cave in at night to the salty cravings...
Step 2--get back to exercising. Hubby's been home lately and I've got him talked into getting back to walking in the evenings... He was up to almost 2 miles per day at the time he was 3 months postop from his quadruple bypass. Then, once he was back to work full-time, he all but stopped walking any further than from the tractor-trailer into the truck stop and back again... He feels like crap and he's gained the 30 pounds that he lost right back again. SO, he's getting on the bandwagon with me when he's home. I got a new bike back before Christmas and haven't put 15 miles on it I bet... That is going to change! Between walking in the evenings and some afternoon bike rides, I hope to see that scale start to dive again.
Step 3--Planning a protein snack regimen for next school year...and finding some stuff I like to keep it going. I also need to get back to eating more salads... I like salads. I missed them SO much during that first 6 months postop! I'm going to get those back into my diet again and keep them there.
Step 4--More of the same! Getting the stuff back in place is one thing--keeping it there is another. I know that I learned all this stuff during my weight loss. I kept the weight off for a long time by just staying on track. I wasn't dieting. I wasn't going out of my way to not eat anything, but I was EXERCISING and I was getting the protein in...everyday, no matter what... Before my surgery, I was clueless how to lose the weight and keep it off. I can't say that anymore. I know what I have to do. I know how to do it. I CAN DO IT! I will do it...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cha Cha Cha Cha CHANGES!!

Now, for the changes I made to my tortellini soup recipe tonight....

Instead of ground beef, I used turkey meatballs cut into four pieces.
I added a can of black beans (drained).
I used stewed tomatoes instead of just plain diced tomatoes.

And, as I'm back in LaBelle, I added a dash of Everglades Seasoning!

It is done and it is AWESOME! Pic on my Facebook page!

Tortellini Soup....It's what's for dinner!

This is a repost from a recipe I shared a long time ago... I bought some 3 cheese tortellini the other day to make it again. I actually haven't made it since the time I posted it!

I tried a friend's Tortellini Soup at a gathering for work. It was yummy, but it was intended to be eaten as part of a meal and not the whole meal as it didn't have a lot of protein to it. SO, I played with it a bit and love it!
Here's what I actually did...


1 pound ground beef, browned
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 stick butter
3 cans broth (vegetable and beef were what I had on hand)
1 can kidney beans
1 large can (or two small) diced tomatoes with juice
16 oz bag frozen spinach
about 7 or 8 ozs of DRIED three cheese tortellini
grated parmesan cheese (no romano here, but that is what the orig recipe
called for!)

Brown ground beef, drain and set aside. Cook onion and garlic in butter
for a couple minutes or till the onion is softened. Pour in broth and
canned tomatoes (don't drain tomatoes). Pour in kidney beans (don't
drain those either). Stir in ground beef. Bring to boil. Add frozen,
chopped spinach and return to boil. Then, turn heat down and cook for 20
minutes. Add dry tortellini and cook till they are as done as you like.
Grate in fresh parmesan cheese to taste. Serve with another grate of
cheese across the top!

Nutrition info per 1 cup serving:
Fat--10 grams (3.6 saturated, 0 trans)

Carbs--13.3 grams (2.5 fiber and 1.5 sugars)
Protein--17 grams

It is yummy!! Can't wait for dinner! Going to serve it with some warm
garlic bread...

3 mos again!

Recently, a dear WV friend pointed out to me (by email...) that I hadn't been posting to my blog. Well, all I can say is that life has intervened yet again. My last post was titled, "Has it really been almost 3 mos?" Well, that was in December and here we are almost to March! SO, I guess the same question applies.

Lots of stuff can happen in 3 months time! My weight is up--20 pounds or so more than I want it to be. My comfort zone is in the 205 to 215 range. Moment of truth--the number is more than 235 right now and it is entirely my fault. All those things we learn in the first couple of years postop would do me a world of good right now. Cutting back on the carbs, getting back to high protein, and doing some exercise on a daily basis would help me get right back to where I want to be. My clothes are fitting poorly, so I don't have a choice now. I refuse to buy a new set of clothing in a larger size range! Just NOT going to do it! SO, I got a new bike for my anniversary. I need to actually start riding it though. I live in a rural neighborhood, so no excuse for not walking. The carbs part...not quite so easy to break, but the exercise would certainly help with that too. I did stop by Vitamin Shoppe and stock up on protein bars the other day. I just need to purge the bread from my diet again.... It is awful to know exactly what to do to turn the situation around and to still struggle to find the motivation to DO it!

My grandbaby gets to come home next Saturday! Woohoo!! And, I got him a new bike too, so I'll have the baby wanting to ride as a motivator if nothing else works! He will be SO excited to see that bike! He's only had baby bikes till now and this is definitely a big boy bike!

Hubby is working 3 weeks at a time lately, so he's only home for 3 or 4 days every 2 1/2 to 3 weeks...bummer! And, he spends the first couple of days at home just resting and taking care of honey-dos! This means that more of what needs done around here falls to me. I am also still working full time as a teacher. I have 3 different classes to teach, which means lesson planning for 3 completely different courses. I was told this week that I may get to teach all AP World History next year. That would absolutely rock! 4 sections of the exact same class ALL YEAR LONG! Only one course to prep for is totally awesome, though only a teacher can appreciate it fully... And, AP world history is new to me this year, but I am starting to get in the groove with it and would absolutely love being able to devote all my time to this one course and being able to better develop my ability to teach this one class as opposed to trying to split my time amongst the 3 classes like I'm currently doing. If I want to read something to learn more, I have 3 classes competing for my time...which is most important? What can I read to help me in all 3? This makes it hard to choose!

Mandy is still working, but not going to school. How do you convince someone who graduates with a 3.8 cumulative GPA that they should go to college? We "made" her go for a semester after graduation and she totally blew it off, got all Fs and now has a 0.75 GPA. She had a previous college class as a dual enrollment student, so isn't a total 0.0 GPA. BUT, now she has money to payback in order to retain her scholarship AND she has to go a full semester without Pell grant before she can get it back too. That means paying back about $1200 for the classes she flunked and then managing to go without the help of Pell the first semester back. She gives no sign of any interest in going back yet... UGH! She turned 19 this month and gives NO help at home. We're basically like someplace she rooms for free. She pays no rent, does no chores, helps in no way whatsoever, and we're supposed to provide her a vehicle to run around in as well. NOT!

Eliza will turn 22 next month... She's still taking classes and she is starting to grow up, finally, we think. She's more respectful of what we do for her and for the baby. She is more helpful around home and when a vehicle needs maintenance or repair. She is doing better with helping her grandmother when she needs errands run or just someone to visit with her or ride to a doctor's appointment with her. She's just plain more adult than she's ever been. AND, to top it all off, she and her ex-husband are finally on speaking terms and can have a somewhat adult conversation without him just hanging up on her.... He's got another child already--born in January. Matthew got a little brother in January. Will this make things better? No, probably worse. But, perhaps--with this new focus--things will smooth out a bit on that end of this struggle and we'll get more cooperation. Matthew is supposed to start a 3 year old pre-K in August, but we are waiting to see what his Dad has to say about it...

That is pretty much the state of things here now... I'm going to post a recipe that is actually a repost from at least 2 years ago. This is what we're having for dinner!
Hugs till next time!
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