Penne Pasta with Sausage

This recipe is a huge hit for my family.  My husband came up with this meal, and it is delicious!

Penne ~6oz dry
5 mild Italian sausages
1 can beef broth
½ tsp each oregano and basil
1 jar roasted garlic and herb pasta sauce

Put large pot on to boil for pasta
Heat ~1tbsp vegetable oil in pan on medium heat
Add sausage, cover and cook for 4 min on medium-high
Flip and cook another 4 min
Add can of beef broth and sprinkle herbs evenly around, cook 10 min
Remove sausages to plate, drain fluid from pan and rinse pan
Add sauce to pan and simmer on lowest heat while cutting sausages
Cut sausages into ¼” slices, return to pan
Simmer on medium-low for 10 min before starting pasta
Cook pasta while continuing to simmer sausage
When pasta is done, drain
Turn off heat to sausage
Add pasta to sausage until desired consistency
Serve with Italian blend shredded cheese.
Enjoy!

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Duck…duck…CUTE!

Yesterday we picked up four adorable ducklings to add to our flock.  They are Ancona ducks, which are related to Runner ducks (actually they are a mix of a Runner and a Belgian duck).  They are SOOO cute!!  One is 4 weeks old, one is 3 weeks old, and two are 4 days old.  I think we got 3 females and one male (one of the youngest ones), but I’m not exactly certain yet.  The reason I think we have one boy is because male ducks have a deeper, raspier voice, and one of the little ones has a deeper crackly quack.  “He” is too young to really tell, though.  Once they are all around 7 weeks old we will be able to tell for sure.

It ended up that we got them from the same person we got our Polish Crest chicken named Cricket from.  I didn’t realize that until we pulled up to her house.  Two of the chicks we got from her died within 24 hours of bringing them home, and all of the chicks she had there this time looked terrible also, but the ducks looked healthy.  One of the small ones was pretty lethargic yesterday, but I gave him a drop of baby vitamins and put some Sav-a-chick and vitamins in their drinking water, and he is nice and perky today!

The two babies didn’t meet the older two until we put them in the carrier to bring home, and the people we got them from suggested to keep them apart for fear of them getting trampled, but they all get along wonderfully.  They groom each other, and they all cuddle up together.  The little ones follow the biggest one around like she is their mother.  It’s really cute!

They also seem to have imprinted on me already.  They get really upset if they can’t see us, whereas all of the chicks we had couldn’t care less if we were there or not.  If I sit on the floor they will all come over and climb on me and fall asleep.  ♥♥♥

Here are some pictures.  I hope you think they are as cute as we do!

A Wonderful Sight

The sun is a powerful and wonderful thing.  Sometimes it amazes me with what it can do.  One of those things is sun bleaching.  It has amazing antibacterial properties and can remove the stains from almost anything.  It even works when it is cloudy out, but a bright sunny day is better.

I sun bleach my dish towels all the time, and lately I have been sunning my new-to-me cloth diapers.  I bought some used prefolds from a diaper service in my hometown, and most of them came with pretty heavy stains.  With the help of the sun and a little lemon juice, all of the stains are completely gone and my diapers look brand new again!  They smell wonderful also!

The best thing is that I didn’t have to use a ton of nasty chemicals or lots of grunt work and arm strength to scrub the stains out!  You can’t beat that!

Cheesy Chicken Bake

(I apologize ahead of time, I forgot to take pictures of this.  Oops!)

Cheesy Chicken Bake
Prep: 5min    •     Bake: 35-45min

1 can cream of chicken soup (regular or fat-free)
1 1/3 cups water
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 cup UNCOOKED regular long-grain white rice
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (or enough to cover) french fried onions

1. Stir the soup, water, Worcestershire, rice, chicken, and cheese in a 2qt casserole.  Cover.
2. Bake at 350°F for 35-45min or until hot.  Stir.
3. Sprinkle with onions.  Bake for 5min more or until golden.
4. Let sit for 10min
5. Enjoy!

Added notes:
a. I seasoned my chicken with fresh ground garlic and sea salt and seasoning salt.
b. I added a shake of onion powder, and quite a bit of garlic sea salt and seasoning salt to the soup mixture to taste.  My family prefers well seasoned food, though.
c. The recipe called to cook it for 35min, but it was still watery at that point so I cooked it for 10 more minutes.  It was a TAD on the dry side, so I might try 5 more minutes next time.  Just play with the cooking time according to your particular oven.  The next day I just added a tiny bit of water to it before I microwaved it, and it was perfect.

My first serging project

I got a serger for Christmas a couple years ago, but I was scared to use it, and then we got busy with putting our house on the market and moving to a different state, so I never got around to even taking it out of the box.  Well, I decided that it was time that I did.

As I mentioned before, I plan to use cloth diapers on our foster children.  Doublers and inserts for them can be expensive, so I figured I could just make some since I already have the fabric that I would need.  I have a bunch of yellow minky, and a thin white terry cloth towel that we got in a set from Sams.

I cut them into 4×12 and 3.5×11 pieces, and serged them together.  I made 4 of each size with one layer of minky and one layer of terry, and 3 of each with one layer of minky and two layers of terry.

The first one I made isn’t super pretty, but it should still work.
Here is my second one, which turned out much better.  It looks all wonky, but it really isn’t.
Here’s a bunch of them.  I still have 3 left to do, but I ran out of thread.  From left to right:
3 layer large, 2 layer large, 2 layer small, 3 layer small
Hopefully they work!  🙂

So Proud

My husband has decided that he wants to set a good example for our son, so he is going to go to college.  He will going to Ozark Technical College and is getting an associate degree in Design and Drafting Technologies.  He’ll do a great job, and I think the degree he chose is perfect for him.  I support him 100 percent, and I’m so proud of him.

Menu February 12th – 18th

Man, it has been forever since I posted our menu.  The last one was back in September!!  I’ve been seriously neglecting my blog, but I hope to pick it back up again and keep up with it. Anyway…on to our menu.

Sunday
Macaroni and Cheese
mixed with tuna and peas

Monday
Sausages
Fried Potatoes

Tuesday
Chili Dogs
Fresh Cauliflower w/ ranch dressing

Wednesday
Leftovers
(Greyson has youth group)

Thursday
Leftovers
(We have foster care training)

Friday
Cheesy chicken and rice casserole

Saturday
TBD

Fostering Fears

No, not in the way you think.

My husband and I are training to become foster parents through the state of Missouri.  We are about half way through our classes, and we have already had our first of three home studies.  We hit a snag in our home study when she found out about my husband’s difficult childhood, and we were worried that we would be told to stop coming.  “Our” worker, the one assigned to stick up for us and help us out, was the one that needed to make the decision on whether or not we could continue, and after talking to my husband she realized that the lady doing our home studies (and also teaching our classes) stepped over a line and went a little crazy in her notes, and she told us that we had better keep going to the classes.  lol  I’m just worried now about any repercussions from the lady that is doing our home studies, since we complained about her and I’m sure she’ll hear about it.

Our classes have been rather boring so far, actually.  We went through most of this already back in Nebraska, and the classes are exactly the same thing.  Same text book, same homework, same ridiculous videos.  Everything is the same.  There are about 10 couples in our class, and out of all of them, only 3 “students” ever speak unless asked to read from the book.  Those 3 people would be a lady that always sits next to me that already has a kinship foster child (so she has already experienced most of what we talk about)…and my husband and me.  It’s crazy!  We do have one avid note taker…she writes down everything that the instructors say.  Literally.  I watch her.  lol  Everyone else just sits there.  Almost all of them are there for the sole purpose of eventually adopting, so they just want to get the classes over with.  It’s very strange, to say the least.  I have to wonder if the instructors feel like they are talking to the wall most of the time.

I can’t wait until we are licensed and have our first foster child.  We are planning on taking children ages newborn to 3yrs, and gender or race doesn’t matter to us.  For now we are only taking one child at a time, but if we can ever get a bigger car in the future we would be willing to take 2 children at once which will open us up to more placements because we could take sibling groups. At the moment, though, we cannot fit more than one carseat in our car and still have room for our son.  Our worker suggested that we only take children 6 and under based on our son’s age (he just turned 13), and in this state all children under 8 must ride in an age appropriate carseat, so we are out of luck on taking more than one child for now.

For the time being we are going to be doing straight foster care, which means we will care for the child until they are able to return home, then we will get another placement.  If a child we are caring for becomes free for adoption, we will consider it at that point, but we aren’t going into this with the intent of doing foster to adopt.  That is the biggest reason why we do a lot of talking in class, asking questions and getting clarification on what they are talking about.  I want to be as prepared as we can be.  There are less surprises down the road that way.  We also agreed to do respite care and emergency care in between our own placements.

Respite care is taking care of a child in the foster care system for a couple of hours up to a week or so while their assigned foster parents are either out-of-town, sick, or for whatever reason, then they will return to their assigned foster parents.

Emergency care is taking a child during any time of day in an emergency and stay for a couple of hours up to a couple of days, while authorities figure out if they will be staying in the foster care system, if they will be going to relative placement, or if they will be returned to their parents.  They typically do this if the child needs to be removed in an emergency before they get any of this figured out.  Sometimes an emergency placement can turn into a standard foster placement.

When it comes to foster children, privacy is everything.  I can’t say anything about them, I can’t even say their name (especially online), and I can’t take and post pictures of them.  I worry about how I will handle this when it comes to Facebook and my blog, but I’m sure I’ll do fine.  It will just be so hard not to talk about them and the cute things they do, or vent about the hard stuff we have to go through.  I’m going to want to share them with the world, and I won’t be able to.  It will be difficult.

I’m so excited, though.  There are so many things that I can’t wait to do.  For starters, I plan to use cloth diapers on all of the foster children we take care of.  I already have the majority of my cloth diaper stash washed and ready to go.  I’m so anxious that I keep practicing by putting diapers on my stuffed bear.  hehe  I didn’t use cloth diapers on our son, so this will be a fun and interesting adventure.  I also can’t wait to baby wear.  I’m excited to use the Mei Tais that I made while I was a nanny, and my Didymos wrap that I’ve kept forever and have only had the chance to use once.  I’ve never been able to use them on a child of my “own” before, but I just can’t wait.

I’m also worried about how our families will react, and how they will treat our foster children whenever they are able to meet them.  So far, both of our families seem to be completely ignoring the fact that we are even doing this (aside from the time my husband talked to his family about the troubles we were having with our home study), so that is what has me concerned.  I’m not as worried about my husband’s family as I am about mine, though.  I’ve tried bringing it up with my family and they refuse to even talk about it, and just change the subject.  *sigh*  Especially if we end up adopting…will that child be treated differently?  Will they be treated as if they are damaged or as if there is something “wrong” with them?  I hope not, but I guess time will tell.

Being foster parents can be really scary and really hard, but we’re up for the challenge.

Did I tell you that I can’t wait??