Archive | October, 2015

Monday Musings: Go Orange teaches so many lessons

26 Oct
We're just a few people here at our house, but we're looking to make a big difference.

We’re just a few people here at our house, but we’re looking to make a big difference.

If you have been reading The Whole Bag of Chips for a long time, you know all about our kids’ Go Orange citywide food drive. If you haven’t, you can read about it on the Go Orange page on my blog. In a nutshell though, a few years back our kids were watching TV and saw a commercial for going orange and having food drives for No Kid Hungry. One of them said, “We should do that here!” and I said, “Go ahead!” And they did. It’s been their project all along, from contacting the schools to contacting the mayor’s office, to creating posters and flyers. Although we as adults are here to facilitate and offer advice if needed, this has been their “thing” from Day One, and it continues to be their thing.

This year though, it is their third year running the food drive, and it’s a little bit different. Each daughter is old enough to have their own email address now, so they really can each take an active role in being the ones to reach out and make the contact with all of these people. The first year, only our oldest had an email, so she did all the emailing even though they all worked together to formulate the emails. They all made posters, they all participated, but she communicated out. Now, we’re splitting the tasks so that they each get to contact someone, or several someones, in regards to their food drive.

In that, I’ve had a realization of just what a learning experience this is for them. And I don’t mean just about hunger and poverty and statistics. It’s all that too, and that in itself is so incredibly powerful, but I mean that this has been such a hands-on lesson for them in communication skills, and in spearheading something bigger than they are, which can be put to use long into their future lives and careers. As I have been overseeing the communications to the community with three different kids of differing ages and abilities, I’ve been struck by the educational lessons they’re learning “on the job,” and how they’re also applying their learned classroom skills with our Go Orange drive.

I’ve watched in awe as my oldest used her newly acquired Digital Media Class skills and talents to create this year’s flyer. I’ve helped my youngest formulate the “friendly letter” email to the Assistant Superintendent as she inquired as to whether or not this event and its corresponding flyer was approved for 2015. I’ve reminded my second daughter to check for responses from the 23 school administrators she contacted about this year’s event and to respond back if necessary. Although it’s not seamless–they’re still kids–they’re still learning as they go and they’re doing a great job. They make posters every year, and after the first year they knew all the important “who, what, when, where, why and how” information to put on them.

I’m proud of the girls for coming up with their plan for Go Orange three years ago, and I’m so glad that it’s still going strong. I’m glad that as it rolls around each year they are each still so enthusiastic about doing it at their school and at our church, and watching it spread and grow each year. It’s a great feeling to see the results of their efforts on the actual day, and to see that although we haven’t solved the problems of poverty and hungry children, we certainly have tried to be part of the solution.

Go Orange!

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Fun Friday: Blueberry Crisp in a mug for one

23 Oct
I loved this fruit crisp recipe from Rumble in the Kitchen!

I loved this fruit crisp recipe from Rumble in the Kitchen!

It’s Friday night and we’ve all survived another week! I think that we all deserve a treat to celebrate our successful completion of Monday through Friday, don’t you?

I’m a big fan of desserts in a mug, and I’ve shared the Nutella Mug Cake recipe with you in the past. Today however, I am going to share a new dessert in a mug recipe with you. It’s one I tried one night at the very end of the summer. My whole family was gathered around the fire pit for one last fire before the start of school. They were enjoying the typical summer treat, S’Mores. I don’t like S’Mores, but I didn’t want to miss out on the fire pit time together so I sat and didn’t eat. The entire time though, my wheels were turning, trying to think of what I could eat later on that would satisfy my dessert cravings.

Enter Rumble in the Kitchen’s Selfish Fruit Crisp by Rumble in the Kitchen, a dessert crisp in a mug for one. I had most of the ingredients on hand and what I didn’t have I could do without.

It was going to be just enough for me!

We had gone blueberry picking recently and I had frozen several bags of blueberries to last us for a few months. I decided to make my fruit crisp a blueberry crisp. I couldn’t wait.

In fact, as I type this I am realizing that I still have blueberries in my freezer right now!!

In her recipe, the author of Rumble in the kitchen gives you some choices:

Bread crumbs, or oatmeal plus flour, or an oatmeal packet. I chose the oatmeal plus flour.

It also called for a cereal to be used along with some flour, but I did not include those items.

The rest I pretty much followed as written, but the great thing about a crisp dessert is that you can almost never have too many oats, too much butter, or too much brown sugar (within reason!) It’s always delicious!

So if your mouth is watering right now the way mine is, I encourage you to check out the recipe over at Rumble in the Kitchen and make yourself a nice fruit crisp for dessert and celebrate another week down!

Hungry yet?

Hungry yet?

 

 

Fun Friday [Night]: An ode to leftovers

16 Oct
This is my empty dinner dish...I got to have my favorite dinner twice this week, once early in the week and once leftover. Do you make use of your leftovers?

This is my empty dinner dish…I got to have my favorite dinner twice this week, once early in the week and once leftover. Do you eat leftovers?

Happy Friday Night everyone!

We made it through the week. At one point today I questioned if I’d even survive the day in one piece, never-mind the entire week.

Although this week was a short one, it was such a busy one that it seemed extra- long. By 1:30 this afternoon I was so wiped out from today, I couldn’t believe the day was only half over. Once it was over we had one child home for the evening, one child out for the evening and one child away for the weekend.

That made it a perfect night for leftovers.

We were gone all day, no one was home to cook, yet we had an elaborate menu of fabulous dinners to choose from when we finally got home tonight, completely wiped out physically and mentally. Not only that, but we could essentially all get to eat our most favorite dinners tonight since this week we had something that everyone loved at least once during the week. My favorite dinner is Chicken Marsala and I just polished off the last of it.

A few days ago my friend Paula from the blog My Soup For You shared a link from NPR on Facebook about the use of leftovers and the actual historical significance of leftovers. You can read the article or listen to it here, and I found it to be a very interesting read, particularly because my husband and I always talk about how much we love being able to use our leftovers and how our kids really love getting to eat their favorite dish from the week a second time.

As you know, we usually try to plan our meals two weeks at a time, but oftentimes in that two week cycle we get to have a “Leftovers Night” on the menu at least one time, if not two, and I also will often eat leftovers for my lunch during the week if I’m working from home. In fact, in many cases, like tonight for example, our leftovers completely saved the day.

Or night.

We didn’t want to eat out tonight as we’re eating out tomorrow night, and we were running in different directions a good part of the evening. It was so easy to open up the fridge and have everything already done, just needing reheating. It must be what it’s like to have a personal chef!

Here is our two weeks of meals for you, and I’ve indicated which of the meals had leftovers so that you can see just how far you can stretch a meal budget.

  1. Sloppy Joes *We had meat leftover, enough for one sandwich.
  2. Ravioli and salad *We had enough for two portions leftover.
  3. Paninis *We had half a sandwich left and it was lunch the next day.
  4. Soup and sandwiches *Soup was leftover, enough for two portions.
  5. Shepherds Pie *We had one portion leftover.
  6. Pasta with Tuna Sauce
  7. Quiche (ham and cheese for one, chicken, broccoli, mushrooms and cheese) *About half of each were left, my lunch for many days.
  8. Pork Chops *Two leftover, enough for a BBQ pork chop sandwich.
  9. Chicken, broccoli, cauliflower casserole *There were two portions leftover, both were my lunch during the week.
  10. Homemade pizza (one plain cheese and sauce, one veggie) *We had about half left, enough for lunch the next day.
  11. Chicken Marsala *There was exactly enough leftover for me to have my favorite dinner again tonight.
  12. Leftover Night

    These final three meals didn’t get used in this cycle so they will be on the next two weeks of meals menu, which is three less we have to think of.1. Steak sandwiches with mushrooms and onions
    2. Kielbasa with cabbage and onions
    3. Shrimp scampi (Although we didn’t have this, we did have a shrimp and ravioli dish with tomatoes, which was very similar.)

Fun Friday: Apple Crisp Pizza from The Girl Who Ate Everything

9 Oct
Apple desserts are wonderful in the autumn months!

Apple desserts are wonderful in the autumn months! This was a new one for us!

I love the fall almost as much as the summer. Fall is probably my second most favorite season in New England. I love the crisp air and the gorgeous array of colors, and most of all I love all of the foods and the “pick your own” opportunities for apples and pumpkins.

Even if you can’t pick your own fruits, you can still bake lots of amazing things with the fall fruits. The other night I made a Swedish Apple Pie, which is an all-time favorite of mine, and recently I tried a new dessert, an Apple Crisp Pizza. This new recipe was from a blog called The Girl Who Ate Everything. It was shared on Facebook, which is how I saw it first. I later saw it on another blog as well, and they’d seen it on the same blog. We all must love the idea of apples and caramel and pizza!

You too can have a pizza for dessert!

You too can have a pizza for dessert!

The recipe is super-easy and didn’t take much time at all. I shaped my crust sort of like a pie with a fluted edge, hoping to keep all the fruit from falling out, which seemed to work well and looked very pretty. I also used my round Pampered Chef pizza stone, which worked very well too. I figured if I was making a pizza, I should use my pizza stone!

If you’d like to make this same dessert at your house this fall, visit The Girl Who Ate Everything over at her blog and you’ll find her recipe ready and waiting for you!

Happy Fall Y’All!

Congratulations to Karen!

7 Oct
Congratulations to Karen on her new book!

Congratulations to Karen on her new book!

A couple of years ago I participated in the monologue show, “Listen to Your Mother” here in Providence. As a cast, we came together not knowing each other, and left as a close-knit group of friends. In the years since, we have stayed connected online and sometimes we’ve been lucky to connect again in person as well. We’ve been able to share in each other’s ups and downs, which is the great thing about friendships.

Today I’m excited to congratulate our friend and castmate, Karen Haskell. Karen recently let us all know that she has a new chapbook coming out, “Sixty Years.” A chapbook is a small collection of poetry, and Karen is a poet. Her performance at our show was a collection of poems.

When I asked Karen about her book, she described it to me in this way:

“Sixty Years” is a short story in verse. It tells the story of a married couple against the backdrop of World War II.  The poems alternate point of view between husband and wife who struggle with missed opportunities, loss, and what exactly love means in the aftermath of loss.

It looks and sounds amazing to me and I’m so proud of Karen and excited for her!

If you’re interested in Karen’s new chapbook, you can find it here. The publisher is now taking pre-orders of the book, and you can purchase yours today!