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Back to School night dinner recipe!

Where has this week gone too, one minute I was dreading waking up to my alarm, the next I’m sitting in bed contemplating doing my Friday grocery shopping… Today’s blog is just going to be a dinner recipe I threw, literally, in the slow cooker on Thursday night, the ingredients were just anything I had left in my refrigerator, and I needed a prepared dinner as I had Mabel’s back to school night.

My reason for blogging it is that Jordan said it was the best meal I had made for a while and I want to remember how to make it again, selfish I know, but a necessity when you have fussy eaters in your house!
So hear it is… Back to school night dinner:

Take whatever veggies you have in, I used organic chopped kale, green beans and thinly sliced red onion, place them in the bottom of your slow cooker, toss them with a couple of teaspoons of rosemary and thyme, season with salt a pepper and cover with whatever broth you have in your pantry, mine was chicken. Place chicken thighs over the top of the veggies then season with salt and pepper, place a couple of rashers of bacon (optional, I had some in my refrigerator) over the chicken for flavor, set slow cooker on low for 6 hours. When you have about an hour left of slow cooking make up a batch of biscuit dough, I used this link – http://blog.kitchenmage.com/2008/01/simple-flaky-bi.html and make into balls to place on top of chicken making light fluffy dumplings, let them cook for about an hour! At the end of the cooking time draw off the liquid from the bottom of the slow cooker, place in a saute pan, skim any fat and add a little chicken boullion to the liquid, mix up about two tablespoons of cornstarch with a couple of tablespoons of water (this will depend on how much liquid is in your pan), bring the liquid to the boil and add the cornstarch, water mixture, constantly stir until the gravy thickens… Serve the chicken and veggies with whatever you fancy I made up a pot of quinoa then pour your delicious gravy over the top… For fun bake some of your dumpling mixture into star biscuits and serve on the side… Florence loved these!

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Writers block…

In the last few weeks I have lacked motivation in most things, this has led to writers block… So apologies for my lack of posts!

Back to school is definitely here, our morning routine is so easy this year, on Mondays and Tuesdays Blu and Mabel have school lunch so I just wake them, they get ready and go out to the end of the drive to wait for the bus, the rest of the week it’s home lunch, which I have been determined to have ready the night before so they can grab it themselves from the fridge in the mornings, again they get ready and are out waiting for the bus by 7.15am… The best thing this year, they are both on the same bus and I can sit in bed with my coffee and watch them wait and get on the bus from the comfort of my warm duvet…yay!

I love the fall weather over here, I am still in my summer clothes and flip flops but it is cooler with no humidity, so perfect… Now if I wasn’t thinking cold winter thoughts I would love it even more, but the way this year is flying by, winter will be here before we know it!

It’s been a week of mixed emotions for me, Tuesday saw my oldest child become 26… When did Dom become that old, I’m really not old enough to have a child nearer to 30 than 20! Also a close friend of mine has moved to Colorado, I am so happy for her to start the next adventure of her life and be nearer her son in his freshman year of college, but I am very sad we will not be so close for coffee, lunch and fun!

Tomorrow will be the last Birthday of 2012 in our house… Lewis is going to be 24, he wants to spend his birthday in the local brew pub watching football, drinking beer and eating half price wings… Easy for me, I just have to organize the cake!

It’s soccer Sunday here and now in our house, I’m going to put a fall pumpkin chili into the crock pot for when we get home, make some bagels for lunch and get ready for an afternoon of watching my two favorite soccer stars on the field… Have a fun Sunday, I know I will!

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Reflecting over a summer of changes…

This summer has seen major changes for my children, Farrel has turned 18, he is now an adult or so the world see’s him, I think 18 is still very young and really 20 is more the year we grow up and develope mentally… still I have lots of hope that this year will see many good changes for Farrel, he passed his GED this summer and is looking forward towards starting county college, he has his driving test booked for September 12th, so fingers crossed and he has finally ordered himself some much needed new clothes!  Blu is now a teenager, and although on the morning of his 13th Birthday I imagined a transormation into the tv characters Kevin and Perry, this did not happen, but I have noticed slight changes in him, my calm, easy going child is getting a little bit moody and getting him to have a shower is a nightmare, I think he is totally allergic to water these days, or maybe it is just he is addicted to playing games on his xbox!  Now this summer has seen the most changes in Mabel, she left elementary school in June and over the summer she seems to have grown into a middle school girl… We have had so much fun together this summer, we have shopped, oh my this girl is a shopaholic, worse than her mother, we have talked and talked, shared sushi, gone to Starbucks and planned her new bedroom.  She seems to have grown up so much in just a few short months, she has been so helpful with Florrie, but the one thing I just cannot make her understand is that you cannot keep changing everything in your closet every 6 months!

We started our summer with a plan of doing one major activity a week and although this may not have always happened we have tried to keep the plan running… the first week of summer saw us at the Turtleback Zoo, followed by a farmers market sunday morning trip.  We had football and the Olympics to keep us amused inbetween our outings too,  a few weeks later we took a surprise trip to Long Island NY, this included a very, very hot day in the Bronx Zoo on the way home!  We have had several birthdays to celebrate along the way, the first was Jordan’s 22nd, and for the first time ever we had a Birthday Breakfast on the beach in Sandy Hook!  We have bowled and eaten ice cream at Lake Mohawk a few times this summer, we have sat outside on the deck and grilled, drunk wine and a few cocktails, Blu and Mabel have chilled out in front of the TV for many hours and we have shopped for our back to school supplies over a few weeks, I am very impressed that I came in on budget and they are back to school for less than $100 this year, of course this does not include shoes, sneakers or soccer cleats!  In the last weeks of the summer we have been to the Jersey Shore for a few days, we stayed in a Marriott in Tinton Falls and visited Long Branch and Ocean Grove, my two favorite places along the shore to visit, for two very different reasons… Long Branch reminds me of being somewhere much more exotic than the Jersey Shore and Ocean Grove is the prettiest victorian coastal town I have ever been to… I just love it!

Farrel’s, Blu’s and Mabel’s Birthdays dominated most of august, planning shopping and cooking for me… a good time was had by all though!

Last tuesday we visited the middle school for an open house day, we found our lockers and filled them with our supplies, for Mabel we found all her classrooms ready to plan her day… Florence had a great time running around the hallways and shouting at all the children!  This week is our last minute back to school week… tuesday Mabel has her last compulsory middle school vaccination, we need haircuts and of course Mabel wants her nails done to go with her back to school outfit, she has been planning this all summer!

Now that summer is nearly done for 2012 and we are moving into Fall, part of me is excited and the other part of me is so sad to see these vibrant and lazy months gone by so fast… on one hand summer grilling and cocktails late on the deck are slowly fading away, but on the other, Fall is my favorite time in NJ, apart from the thoughts of winter getting closer, New Jersey is full of pumpkins, apple cider, vibrant blue skies against orange leaves… it’s time to make warming casseroles, vegetable soups and light the fire and the flickering pumpkin spice candles again!

Happy Back to School everyone… lets hope this school year is the best yet for all our wonderful children! x