Sunday, October 31, 2010

Church Shopping

I've always found the term "church shopping" amusingly apt, 
at least if you compare church shopping to house or car shopping.
You start out with a list of "must haves" and a list of "hope to haves"
and then you go to several different places, trying to find one that meets most of what's on your lists.
I haven't attended church regularly in a very long time--since high school, in fact.
I haven't really missed it, spiritually speaking.
I've studied the Bible and the history of Christianity on my own, both through my Religious Studies minor and through personal reading of books like Misquoting Jesus.
My husband and I have great discussions about belief and faith, and have had this blog as an outlet to flesh out my thoughts about my faith, to share them with others, and to have discussions with other bloggers.

One aspect of church that I have missed is being a part of a community that is united for a common purpose.
In college, I didn't miss this at all, because I was an Aggie!
At A&M there is a strong sense of unity in the student body, and I was involved in several student organizations.  
And of course there were the football games!

Since college, I was a part of such a community at my former job, as a high school teacher.
At my high school, there was a sense of family among the faculty, and definitely a sense of common purpose.
There was even a unity between the teachers and the students found in our school pride and spirit.

Now, however, I don't really belong to a group beyond my family and circle of friends.
While I love my family and friends to death, I miss belonging to a bigger group which has a common focus AND in which there is the possibility of meeting new people.
I also am desperately trying to develop interests and hobbies that let me get out of the house lol.

Another aspect of church that I have missed is the comforting familiarity of the services.
I'm aware that many Christians these days would see these as lesser reasons to start visiting a church.
However, as I've mentioned before, I've long sense stopped letting what others think of my spiritual and religious journey determine what path I take.
Also, I think church is the social part of the man-made construct of religion, so I don't think looking for a church for social reasons is "lesser".  That said, I do want there to be spiritual aspects that I agree with in the church we eventually attend.

So, with all that in mind, I have decided that it is time to go "church shopping"!
Bryan is wonderfully supportive and is happy to go with me.
He was raised going to a Church of Christ, and I was raised Methodist.
After talking about it, we have decided to start visiting the nearby Methodist churches first.

Well, though there are a few aspects of Church of Christ theology that we both agree with, there are many things we agree with in Methodist theology.
Also, Methodist theology is much more laid back than Church of Christ theology.
And thirdly, all of the churches that are closest to where we live are Methodist ;-).

So, what are we looking for in a church?
Our "Church Shopping" List
  • *Welcoming, non-judgmental atmosphere
  • *Good sermon--hopefully with good cultural-context references and solid theological elements that prompts discussion upon our return home
  • *A good worship service that's not too contemporary
  • A good kids' program and a solid youth group (both for volunteering and future purposes)
  • A good variety of Bible study groups/small groups

Next Sunday we will visit our first church.
I have high hopes for this one, based on what I've seen and read on their website.
We'll see how it goes!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Bright Shiny Day

Yesterday was what I like to call a bright shiny day.
And no, I'm not just referring to the GORGEOUS weather we're having down here.

Bright shiny days can come occur in any weather, on any day of the week, regardless of what life might be throwing around.
You don't even have to wake up in the right frame of mind, or make a conscious decision that, yes, by God, today will be a good day.
Nope, bright shiny days sometimes just happen.
Yesterday was one of those.

This past Tuesday I woke up with a cough that has moved steadily deeper into my chest.
Yesterday it was horrible.
I called the doctor and set an appointment.

Somewhere in between feeling like crap and going to deposit my first disability check, the day became bright and shiny.
I was driving down the road, not wanting to go home but definitely not wanting to arrive at Dr. Y's an hour early.
So, I went with my old default--the bookstore!
I ordered a small pumpkin creme latte and ended up buying two new books!
I then went to Old Navy to see if they had my jeans--they didn't.

Even so, as I was out moving in the world my heart just kept getting lighter and lighter, even though I was coughing fit to hack up a lung.
My chest was burning, but (excuse the corniness) my happiness was burning brighter.
It's been a couple of months since I've just been completely happy for no particular reason.

I went to the doctor after my failed Old Navy excursion and got to listen to good songs on the radio the whole way.
The scale told me a horrible number, which I will get to work on next week.
Dr. Y said that my cough might be a reaction to the high pollen count.
Seeing as I have never reacted to pollen with a cough that moves progressively deeper into my chest, I refuted that idea.
Plus I've felt like absolute crap all week--and not allergy crap either, sick crap.
So, Dr. Y said, in that case, it was probably the early stages of an infection and that there was bronchial inflammation.
In plain English, probably the very early stages of bronchitis.
(Yes, again.  :-P)
He prescribed me Levaquin and hydrocodone cough syrup.

I picked that up at the CVS and headed to the grocery store to buy dinner stuffs for last night and tonight.
It's funny--you can walk through Krogers in clothes that leave nothing to the imagination (if you know what I mean) and noone gives you a second look.
You walk through Kroger's with a chest-burning cough?
Yep, people look at you (and avoid you) like you've got the plague.
Society is funny sometimes.

Anywho, Bryan came home shortly after I had put away the groceries and picked up the place a bit.
We had a wonderful evening!
I cooked spaghetti and we watched Transformers 2:  Revenge of the Fallen.
And there was lots of wonderful cuddling!

By the end of the day, my heart felt as if it were made of sunshine.
I was happy and peacefully energized.
I had accomplished several important financial tasks, and my stress level had plummeted.
For the first time since this whole disability thing, I went to bed in a blissed-out state, extremely happy with my life, and with where I am in it.
And I slept like a rock.

And that, ladies and gents, was my first bright shiny day in many months.
And the fantastic thing?
Some of the bright and shininess seems to have spilled over into today!
So, it's time to go enjoy :-D.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Definition of Irony

Yesterday, I posted about the adjusting period I'm going through as I transition from full-time high school teacher with a side of housewife thrown in to full-time housewife.

I never pictured myself as a housewife.
I never planned it to be my profession, never really desired it.

No, really I mean it--never.

Stay-at-home mom?  Sure!
But seeing as we don't yet have a kiddo running loose, I'm definitely just a stay-at-home housewife.
Which I find ironic.

Well, back in college (Gig 'Em Aggies!), I became acquainted with many girls who were there to earn their Mrs. degree by "catching" an engineer to marry and then being their SAHW.
Many of these girls were education majors.

Meanwhile, I was a Spanish major who, by God, was NEVER going to enter the classroom.
I wasn't sure what, precisely, I would do after I rethought my goal of being a house-building missionary in the third world (I didn't want to evangelize, just build houses for folks.)
But, whatever it was, it was NOT going to be teaching.

I wasn't sure I would ever get married.
It wasn't because I didn't want to.
I simply refused to ever settle for just marrying a someone--it would have to be the someone.
That, however, didn't mean I wasn't interested in all the really cute guys I was meeting at A&M!
I started dating a really cute, intelligent guy, not expecting anything serious to really come of it.
That guy happened to be an engineer.

The college years passed on along.
Senior year, I realized I was about to graduate with zero job prospects.
So, I decided to get a Masters--in Education.
They were the only Masters program still accepting applications in December.
 So, even after SWEARING up and down that I would not become a teacher, 
I ended up starting down that very path.
I taught for two years before being declared permanently disabled.
And the cute, intelligent engineer?
We got engaged the April of my senior year, married the May before I finished my Masters, and have been married now for just about 2 and 1/2 years.

So, now I'm a stay-at-home wife with an Education degree married to an engineer.

That's irony for you.

Now, I look back, and I am grateful for my years teaching, few as they were.
I am blessed to have found the someone in my wonderful, supportive husband Bryan.
I'm fortunate that I have disability insurance that allows us to keep all of our ends met now that I'm at home.
And I am confident that I will enjoy this housewife gig, figure out how to organize and own it, and to be productive and find enjoyment in this new chapter of my life, even if it was not one I had sought or foreseen.

Sometimes life's ironies work out quite nicely, if you can just accept and adjust to what life has handed you.

Wordless Wednesday: My English Ivy

This will be my only Wordless Wednesday with words, I promise!
This seems like a lot of fun to me, giving a snapshot into the lives of those who participate.
I got this idea from Jac, over at Jayaycee Blog.

As I've mentioned previously, I have developed a new hobby--making fake plant and flower arrangements.
So far, there's only the red-and-yellow flowers in a vase, and my most recent endeavor--my English Ivy!

My husband calls it "the salad plant" because it resembles tossed lettuce.
Lol.  Maybe it wasn't my best attempt, but I think it's happy-looking and cute.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I feel as if I'm standing at the beginning of the rest of my life.
I've been here several times before.

When I went off to college, it was thrilling to be on my own for the first time.  There was an unknown and unlimited amount of people to meet, things to do, paths in life to travel.

When I studied abroad in Spain, I regained my sense of self after quite an extended separation.  I fit into my skin once again.  There were still challenges ahead, I knew, but I felt as if I could overcome anything.  Once again, life was filled with possibilities and hopes.
When I married my husband, I married my best friend, my soul mate, and the love of my life all rolled into one incredibly handsome package (if I do say so myself ;-D).  Our life together has been and will continue to be an adventure.  I remember standing by his side as his wife, and thinking that together there was nothing we couldn't overcome, nowhere we couldn't go.  I still believe all of that--my being on disability has just put a few more challenges in our path for us to hop over.

Today is another such day.
It's not a grand occasion, as were the above.
It's simply a Tuesday.
But still I feel as if the future stretches on ahead.
This time, however, it's taking some work to view this feeling with my usual optimism and excitement.
Being declared disabled was a shock.
Living with that declaration has been a great deal harder than I had expected.
Though there were many things that I disliked about working in the field of education, I loved teaching.
I loved working with my kiddos, I loved teaching them Spanish, and I loved being able to give them advice when they came to me with problems.
I loved trying to teach them how to think.
I had a definite purpose.

Now, my purpose lies in keeping the house clean, planning meals, cooking dinner, etc.
I am a housewife.

According to my husband I am a very good housewife, so at least there's that.

Let me be clear--there's nothing wrong with being a housewife.
Last summer I was even somewhat enamored by the idea.
So I am quite surprised that I am not ecstatic to find myself able to take up said role with little financial imposition (at least for the next three years) to my husband and myself. 
It's because the choice was not mine--I hadn't finished fulfilling my purpose as a teacher.
I had imagined having years longer to work with my kids.
And now I'm a housewife.
Just like that.

What's the point of this ramble of a post?
I'm in a period of adjustment.
Though almost two months have passed since I was declared disabled, I'm still adjusting to the loss of my job--specifically the purpose I found in my work.

That said, there are some things to which look forward.
I'm planning on engaging in some volunteer work at some point--though with my condition, I would only be able to do so for a few hours a week.
I'm trying to develop new hobbies--but there are only so many fake plants one house can take.
I'm starting to really enjoy certain aspects of being home--for example, not hurting all the time.
Having the time and the energy to truly take care of the house and my husband is another plus.
Having time to maintain and build friendships sure is nice.
Not being sick all the time (except now, when I have a cough) is also nice.

So, I'm adjusting fairly well.  I think I might even be on the upswing of the whole process.
Looking back over my life, I've always been able, ultimately, to adjust and be happy wherever life takes me and whatever it throws at me.
Another couple of months, and I'll be fully happy in my new role.
And truly, I do love all the day-to-day business of being a housewife--it's just a matter of getting myself to be ok with having such a tremendous life-changing decision taken out of my hands.

Anyway, that is my ramble on my current state of mind.
Now, I'm going to finish watching Lost In Austen and then vacuum the downstairs.
The bathrooms might also get cleaned today.  We'll see!

Wedding Marathon

The last two weekends have been full of activity, fun, excitement, a little drama, and romance!

My two best friends have now tied the knot with their respective guys.
I was honored and excited to be in both weddings--especially since they had both stood up behind me when Bryan and I got married!

I was Victoria's MOH (Matron of Honor) and one of Bryanne-Michelle's bridesmaids.
It's been a ton of fun this year getting to talk over wedding plans with them, and it was even better knowing that they have truly found their matches.  Philip balances Victoria out so well, as Justin does Bryanne-Michelle (and of course, vice versa).

Victoria's wedding was a Catholic wedding minus the mass.  It was a beautiful ceremony, with several of Philip's family members (including Grandpa!) singing hymns throughout the service.  There were scripture readings and prayers.  They (as did we) included the Unity Candle ceremony.  Vic's colors were purple and silver with pink roses, and she designed the bridesmaids dresses herself.

I went up to DFW the Wednesday before the big day.  Victoria and I spent Thursday running errands (aka honeymoon clothes shopping ;-D), and then Friday morning Daisy and Katie joined us for last-minute dress alterations and decorating the reception hall.  Friday night was the rehearsal (where I played Victoria's role--it's bad luck for a bride to practice her own wedding after all).  The rehearsal dinner was yummy--and there were PURPLE margaritas!

The reception was beautiful and a TON of fun, with a kicking DJ.  I can't wait to see all the pictures--one of our friends from high school, Dixie, was the photographer and she's AMAZING!!!

I went to Spring the Thursday before Bryanne-Michelle's wedding.  Her other bridesmaid Lisa was already there, having flown in from California that morning.  We had a girls' night/bachelorette evening with Tito's vodka and lemonade, snacks, and movies.  On Friday we went shopping (also for honeymoon clothes! ;-D) and then went to rehearsal (Amy made fun tutus and ribboned flipflops) and rehearsal dinner.

Bryanne-Michelle's ceremony was a lot like Bryan's and mine--quick and to the point!  Or as my dad says, a good Methodist wedding!  Lol.  Ours was a bit longer due to aisle length and the inclusion of the Unity Candle ceremony.  Bryan was 15 minutes late to their ceremony, and missed the whole wedding!
Her colors were a glacier blue with pink roses.

The reception was a lot of fun, and the pictures will be awesome as well--even if the photographer was annoying and corny and made us walk all over the golf course.  I was hurting so bad I almost hijacked a golf cart--but then one of the country club employees brought one around for me.
I sat for most of the reception--though I did dance for a bit after my fifth glass of wine lol.

This week is a recuperation week.  Yesterday Bryan and I spent the day in Spring at my parents' house with them and Austin and Saxon!  Austin made some wonderful barbecue chicken while Saxon mixed up some amazing margaritas and made a delicious chocolate cake!
 As for the rest of this week, while I am sooo happy for my friends, after two weeks of weddings I'm pretty much exhausted and achy.  I'm hoping to go to water aerobics tomorrow, but we'll see how my ankle is doing.  I might have to wait until Thursday morning.
Other than that, there is a lot of house cleaning to catch up on after being gone for the majority of the past two weeks!
Hope everyone else is doing well!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Menu Planning Monday! And Yes, I Know It's Tuesday

So, when the school year started, I fully intended on keeping up with my menu planning Mondays.
Yeah, that obviously didn't happen.
Life (and my RA) threw me a curve ball and with all the business and then all the stress, my menu planning came to a halt.

But today it shall start again!
So, here we go!

BREAKFAST:  Toast or bagel thins with cream cheese
LUNCH:  Cheese and Ham Sandwich
Monday:  Pomodoro's Pizza
Thursday:  Bryanne-Michelle's Bachelorette Girls' Night!!!!! (Bryan's on his on lol)
Friday:  Bryanne-Michelle and Justin's Rehearsal Dinner!!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

So, What Have You Been Up To This Month?

I wrote this post back in September.  I've delayed in posting it because, as I posted previously, I was waiting for word on my status.  Fortunately for my peace of mind, I heard from my disability insurance company and they've approved my claim.  I didn't really want to post anything about being declared disabled until I knew the whole story--as in, whether or not my claim would be approved or denied.  Now I know the whole story, so now I can begin the process of adjusting my mindset to accept this curve ball that life has thrown.  And start figuring out what the heck I'm going to do to keep myself from going nuts while following my medical restrictions and not having my job to go to.

So anyway, here's what happened back at the beginning of the school year:

I hope everyone has had a wonderful month!  I've missed posting on here, but now that my hubby is home from his business trip--and my laptop with him!--I won't have to miss it any longer!

My last substantive post was all the way back on August 21st.  So much has happened since then, I'm not quite sure where to start.  Well, as a wise man once said, the best place to start is at the beginning.

August 23rd was Freshman First Day at my high school.  The powers that be decided a few years back that it would be an easier transition for the poor little fishies if there were no upper classmen present their first day of high school.  This year they also relocated the majority of the freshmen classes into one wing of the high school.  First Day went really well--the kiddos were able to find all of their classes without the entire student body (3500 students) present.  I really enjoyed meeting my freshman homeroom, even though I was very saddened to learn I had lost my homeroom from the past two years for this, their senior year.  After the initial homeroom meeting, we went through an abbreviated version of a full day schedule.
My freshman were all very quiet that first day--they weren't sure what to make of the crazy lady at the front of the room, sitting on her desk and trying to get them to talk to her lol.  I was delighted to discover that I had several of my homeroom kiddos in my regular Spanish I classes as well!

August 24th was the real first day of school with all the kiddos present.  We spent THREE HOURS in homeroom at the start, for all the necessary paperwork, and then went through the schedule.  Unlike the previous day, thankfully, the freshmen kiddos were talkative and seemed excited to be there.  The upperclassmen were actually the quite ones.

August 24th was also the day that Bryan left for his field test business trip.  The trip was 24 days long, so just about a month.  It was a very long month.

The rest of the first week went well, as far as the kids were concerned.  All of my classes were engaged and quite a bit of fun to work with, except 7th period.  Don't get me wrong, they were great kiddos!  It was just hat by the end of the day, they had apparently used up any energy that they once had.  Lol in my three years of teaching, this was the first 7th period that had less than 30 kiddos and was NOT going to be super-high energy at the end of the day!

The first week we focused on get-to-know-us games and classroom rules and procedures.  Week 2 we started learning actual Spanish!  The kids, even the ones suddenly thrust into my classes because of schedule changes, were all well-behaved and engaged.  It was an extremely pleasant week!

That Tuesday was also the first officer's meeting for the Anime Club, which I had agreed to sponsor!  Wednesday was the first general meeting, which I was very sad to have to miss--I had to give a training on the nee ELPS handbook from the state at our department meeting.  

All in all, even with the stress inherent to teaching, I was getting very excited about the school year!  I had put my fears from the summer in the back of my mind.  The Anime Club was shaping up to be a ton of fun, especially because I had my own anime/manga phase back in college and could share their enthusiasm!  A lot of my kiddos from last year had come to see me, and I went to a home volleyball game to cheer my 5 JV girls on.  I was getting to know my regular class kiddos and my homeroom kiddos--which ones would shine, which ones I'd have to prod, which ones would take some careful watching--and was starting to build solid teacher/student relationships with quite a few of them.  I hadn't had ONE STUDENT mouth off to me in two weeks!  Things seemed to be off to a great start!

But there was a slight problem.  OK, it wasn't so slight.

The first Monday of the teacher work week (August 16-20), I was limping--my ankle had started to flare.  I spent the rest of that week trying to ride out one of the worst flares I'd had in quite a while.  I couldn't even sit for more than 45 minutes without starting to really hurt.  I made it through til that Friday, when I went to my rheumatologist.  He prescribed me some prednisone to try to get the flare under control and we arranged for my return in September.

I spent that weekend off of my feet, trying to relax.  Normally, that helps.  Of course, normally my flares don't last a week either.

Monday (Freshman First Day) I was still limping.  That plus Paddington's constant presence led to questions from my kiddos, which I, of course, answered, explaining my condition.  The week went on, and there was no improvement.  With the amount of pain and swelling, I did not get to start a school-year water aerobics schedule as I had planned. 

Again, I tried staying off my feet for the weekend.  At this point, I was starting to get worried.  I had never had a flare last this long.  When Monday came, I was still limping and hurting.  Tuesday saw more of the same.  Having to teach lessons, monitor student activity, answer questions--all the normal teacher stuff--was excruciating, even though my kiddos were wonderful.  They were even wonderful on the Friday before Labor Day for their substitute when I returned to my rheumatologist.

I was very nervous going in to that doctor appointment.  I knew I was already on three DMARDS, plus my NSAID and other pills, so adding more medicines wasn't an option.  I had no idea what our next step could possibly be.  Turns out I was right to be nervous.  My doctor's decision was:


I know better than to argue with Dr. C, but I still tried to negotiate.  I asked about teaching until the semester, and was told no, that would only make things worse.  I asked about teaching the next week and was told, both by look and word, no, I needed to call for a sub and go in on Tuesday and talk with my principal. 

I was floored.

Dr. C's nurse filled out the paperwork while I took a minute to compose myself.  And by that I mean I cried like a baby for a minute or three.  Disability at 25?  And permanent disability at that?!?  I felt (and still feel) like a stranded fish.

Dr. C answered my questions as much as he could--I had to get the other answers from my principal, HR, and the disability insurance company.

That weekend was Victoria's bachelorette party.  I had to spend most of the weekend sitting down, even when we went out.  Vic had a great time, but I felt guilty that her Matron of Honor had to sit out quite a bit.  I also used those three days to try to mentally come to grips with my Dr.'s decision before my upcoming meeting with my principal.

On Tuesday, I went in and spoke with my principal, his secretary, and my department head.  They were all extraordinarily supportive and understanding, even though they hated to see me leave.  Fortunately for my peace of mind, a substitute that had filled in for me last year--whom I knew to be a good teacher and to know her stuff in regards to Spanish--was available to take my place.  I at least know I left my kiddos in good hands.

I tendered my resignation effective that day.  I have finished the paperwork process of applying for my disability insurance, and now I'm just waiting to hear about my approval status.

I miss my school, my classroom so much, and miss teaching my kiddos more than I could have imagined.  I miss being a part of my school family.  I feel unfocused, and more than a bit lost.  I know part of that is the shock--I never dreamed I would be declared disabled at 25.  And it happened so quickly, without any control over the decision on my part.

I'm still not doing that great RA-wise.  I can't sit for too long, can't stand for too long.  As far as walking goes, the limp is getting a bit better, but it's still markedly there--and if I'm on my feet to long, it's just as bad as it was.  Even driving for too long is difficult--part of the reason I flew to Ft. Worth this weekend for Victoria's last bridal shower.  I have to be very careful with my house work--observing my weight limitations (especially with the laundry), not vacuuming, timing tasks so that I am not up for too long, and can sit down as needed.  It makes for very slow progress when I'm trying to clean the house.

I hope that things will get better.  I'd like to be able to start water aerobics again, but I have to wait until Dr. C clears me.  I think my return to gardening will take an even longer wait.  For now, I'm trying to eat healthy meals so that the disease-forced inactivity and the stress don't cause my weight to balloon.  I have two bridesmaid's dresses to fit into in less than a month after all!

I'm reading a lot, watching TV and movies.  I've started to write again--brainstorming stories and coming up with beginnings and characters mostly.  I can't write for too long for the same reason I can't do anything else for extended periods of time.  I'm hoping to type up what I have, but I'm on the computer in short bursts only--too much time makes my wrist and elbow start aching fiercely.  This post has taken several bursts to write.

That said, this is my outlet and a very necessary one at that.

I know that there are positives to this decision--hopefully, being on disability will slow the disease progression and reduce stress-induced flares.  This is of critical necessity--in only four years, I've already lost one joint (my right elbow), my right wrist is collapsing, and my right ankle is bad.
Hopefully, with a slow down in progression, I'll hurt less.
Hopefully, I won't get sick as much this year, being away from the germs of the high school.  Hopefully, a slow down will also mean that I'll still be able to be a good mom when Bryan and I have a kiddo of our own.
Hopefully a slow down will mean that, sooner or later, we can HAVE a kiddo of our own.

There's a lot of hope there.  I'm trying to keep my mental focus on that, instead of the shock and fear that being on disability has brought.  And it's even starting to help!  Eventually, I'll wrap my mind around the whole idea of disability, adjust my outlook to a more positive one, and life will be wonderful yet again--after all, that's how I dealt with being diagnosed at 21, and with every other obstacle this disease has thrown at me.

And the best thing that happened this last month?  Bryan came home last Friday :-D.  He finds more positive aspects to me being home--the laundry done!  dinner cooked!  house cleaned!  Lol.  And me (eventually) not hurting or being sick.  He helps me to see the positive in this situation, and he's been so wonderfully supportive and encouraging about the whole situation, even while he was gone.  But having him here so I can actually hug him is the best. :-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mushroom-Herb Chicken

This is a very easy recipe, and is incredibly delicious as well!
I made it for the first time back in August as part of my planned menu for the week.
This past Wednesday I made Mushroom-Herb Chicken once again, and Bryan liked it even more this time!

I did make a few adjustments to the original recipe, and as it turned out so well, I'm going to share my version!
  • 3 chicken breasts with rib meat
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled
  • 1  (10-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
  • 1/3  cup cooking sherry
  • 1  teaspoon dried marjoram (marjoram is oregano's sweeter, milder cousin :-) )
The first step is to get out your pan.  I used my biggest pan so I could fit all three chicken breasts in at once.  On medium low heat, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in the pan.
Once the butter is completely melted, add the chicken breasts.
Once the chicken starts cooking, sprinkle the uncooked side with the 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. 
(You can also do this before you put the chicken in the pan--I like waiting so that any sloppiness on my part adds salt/pepper to the melted butter instead of to the counter lol.)

Let the chicken cook on medium low heat for 8-10 minutes, using your spatula frequently to keep it from sticking (unless you have a nonstick pan ;-)).  On my stove, this is the "3" setting on the burner.
Yes, I know this is a bit longer than technically required to get the bottom cooked, so you will have to be careful not to let the bottom burn.
However, letting the bottom cook for this slightly longer time period seems to lock in a ton of moisture.

While the chicken is cooking, slice up your yellow onions.
I sliced mine horizontally and then cut the sections in half and broke them apart to get long-ish curving pieces.
You won't use these until the chicken is done, but it's always good to be prepared!

After the 8-10 minutes are up, flip the chicken to the uncooked side.  Don't worry if the bottoms are a little dark--as long as they're not burned, they're fine.
Add another Tablespoon of butter to the pan and let the chicken cook for 5-6 minutes, again using the spatula to keep it from sticking.
(For some reason, this picture came out really dark--the chicken wasn't really this brown, I swear! lol)

After the appropriate time has passed, use a knife to cut into the chicken and make sure it is cooked (i.e. white) all the way through.
Once the chicken is done, transfer it to a serving dish with a lid.
Put the lid on to keep the chicken warm

Now, add the 10-ounce package of mushrooms and your sliced onions to the chicken pan, along with another Tablespoon or so of butter.
Stir them around for 10 seconds or so, and then add the 1/3 cup of cooking sherry and the 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram.
Stir everything together well for about another minute and then put a lid over the pan.
If you don't have a lid that's big enough for your pan (like me) you can always improvise and use a cookie sheet! :-D
Let the mushrooms and onion mix cook until everything has softened.
I let mine cook for 10-15 minutes.
Once the mixture is ready, pop the top off of the chicken container and pour the mushroom-onion mix over the chicken breasts.
And that's it!  You're done!
I served my Mushroom-Herb Chicken with Uncle Ben's wild rice and SteamFresh's lightly sauced sweet corn and a couple of Shiner Blondes ;-).
I was going to go with rice and green beans, but the hubby wanted corn lol.

It was a yummy dinner--Bryan was even happy to eat the left-over chicken breast with the mushroom-onion mix and the left-over corn for dinner the next night, when I went and got my hair done and grabbed a girls' dinner with Alicia! :-D
Sweet success!

P.S.:  No, I'm not a sponsor for the above links--I just love their products so much, I wanted to share!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Pause Button

The pause button is one of the most useful buttons on a remote.
It can suspend a movie's progress for you to go to the bathroom, or nowadays can stop live TV in its tracks.
Pause can halt a CD or an MP3, stopping lyrics and music mid-flow.
Pause freezes a video game so that you can get more chips or a soda.
It gives us a sense of control--we experience the entertainment that we want, when we want it.
It makes entertainment function on our terms.

It may sound funny, but I feel as though I now know how the TV, the DVD, the music, and the game all feel as they are frozen in the moment by a power outside of themselves.
Not so much that I'm frozen in place, but rather that my life has been paused in it's current pattern.

Right now, someone else has the power to decide how, precisely, the next several months are going to play out.
Until that person deigns to share that decision with me, I feel suspended within the flow of my life.
I'm still waiting on a particular phone call, which is overdue and which I'll talk about later, after it actually comes.

The pause button is not so empowering when you're the one being paused.
That phone call is the play button.
I'm more than ready for it to be pressed.

I know this post is nonspecific.  I promise I'll post an explanation and update once I'm off pause.


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