A Healthy Chili Alternative

This past weekend, I gifted my sister-in-law and brother-in-law with a meal since they just brought home their new baby boy.  I wanted to give them something that would microwave well, freeze well, be healthy and taste good.  Then my power went out (for 4+ hours!).  So, I headed over to my parents’ house to borrow their kitchen where I made 2 pots (one for us and one for them) of Pumpkin Chicken Chowder.  While I don’t have any pictures, I did want to share this recipe, as 1) it is a sneaky way to get your kids to eat vegetables (yeah pumpkin!) and 2) it is a nice alternative or addition to Chili (superbowl is coming!) and 3) it is quick and you can make it all in one pot.  I’ve taken some liberties in altering the recipe slightly and have listed my changed in parentheses below.



1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups warm water  (I substitute Chicken Broth for this and DO NOT add the boullion cubes)
1 can (15 ounces) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1/2 cup whole-kernel corn (I use a mixed vegetable pack that includes corn, carrots, peas, green beans and lima beans)
1/4 cup long-grain white rice (I usually add a bit more as I like my chowder THICK - 1/2 cup)
4 MAGGI Vegetarian Vegetable Flavor Bouillon Cubes (DO NOT ADD)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

I also add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt - though this is just my taste.


HEAT oil in large pot over medium heat. Add chicken, onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink.

STIR in chicken broth, pumpkin, corn, rice, basil and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.


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Taking Care of Your Kids

I love my kids. Some folks in my life will probably say I love them a little too much. But, they are wrong. I love them just the right amount. I was raised in a home where my parents sacrificed so that they could be home to take care of me and my brothers. My dad worked multiple jobs when my mom was a young mother, so she didn’t have to leave the kids with a babysitter. My mom worked nights and went to school when I was in school, so that she could be home for me. I know in this day and age, it is sometimes impossible for a mother or a father to give up one income, but daycare and babysitters can also be costly. I just don’t feel comfortable with the idea of a stranger raising my children. I find it becoming more and more OK with folks for them to just drop off their kids somewhere to do whatever it is they have to do. Now, don’t get me wrong, a trip to any store without kids is a much easier, faster trip than with, however, this is not something that I prefer to do. About the only place I won’t bring my kids with me is the doctor and that is just because I don’t want them exposed to anything they don’t need to be exposed to. I spend time with my kids - quality time. We play, we craft, we bake, we take day trips. I may only be home with my kids 4 out of 7 days a week, but I make sure that time is quality time. And I know that my children are in good hands while I’m at work - hands that have been there before - and hands that provide the same quality time that was bestowed upon me. Each individual has their own parenting style, but if you are going to have children, then you have to be prepared to be a parent. And I choose to be a hands-on parent. There is going to come a time when my kids will want nothing to do with me. I see that in the teenage children of my friends.  So while they still want me around, I’m going to indulge myself and be the best hands-on parent I can be.

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Kids’ Party Invitation Etiquette - UPDATE

Per my previous post, I made the first move with regard to RSVPing to the other party.  We decided that we are going to go.  I politely let the other mother know that there was a chance that we would be late due to the clean-up of our party, but that we were going to attend.  She clearly was waiting for my response, because within a half hour after my email was sent, she responded that she would attend our party, as well.  I’m planning to send CheezWaster home with my parents while we clean-up.  This way, he will have an appropriate amount of time to rest and recoup for the next party.  I’m hoping this will be a fun day of birthday celebrations!

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Kids’ Party Invitation Etiquette

I’m facing a bit of a dilemma this week.  We sent out the invitations at school for CheezWaster’s 4th birthday party this past Tuesday.  They would have gone out the week earlier, but he missed school due to illness.  Yesterday, CheezWaster comes home and there is an invitation to a birthday party in his folder that is scheduled for the SAME day as his.  The time is in the evening (from 5 - 7 pm - stupid time - over dinner time and isn’t that kind of late for a 4 year old’s party???) whereas ours is in the morning (from 11am - 2 pm).  However, I can’t help but feel annoyed at this.  If I had received this invitation first, I would have changed the day of my party so that the children could attend both if they wanted to.  Now, CheezWaster is pitted against another classmate and we’ve already had someone call us with a decline telling us they had another birthday party that day (clearly they knew about this other party before the rest of the class).  AND to make matters worse - the mother of PARTY DAY STEALER has NOT yet responded to our party.


1) Do we go to this kid’s party - even though my son will probably be exhausted from his own party (we’re training super heroes, you know?!) and has said that he doesn’t really play with this kid??? (we opted to invite all of the kids in the class, as that is how a few other mothers have done their parties - the last party only had 5 kids of the 18 in the class - so far we have one decline and one positive RSVP from the class).

2) Do I wait and see how they respond to our party? (their RSVP date is before ours, but our invitation came out first)

I personally think that this mother should respond to my party first since our invitation went out first.  I know I shouldn’t get so worked up about this, but I really am quite annoyed at the whole thing.  If this were me and I decided to keep the party on the same day, I would have sent a personal email or made a phone call to the mother of the other kid before these invites went out.  But, I guess that is what separates a classy mommy like me from the Party Day Stealer Mom.

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Racing our Hot New Motorcycle

By far the coolest gift my kids (well any of us really!) received this Christmas was the Handcrafted All Carved Wood Motorcycle Rocker that my father-in-law made.  The entire motorcycle is handcrafted from wood and then painted.  My husband, the leather-worker, fashioned the leather seat (behind my back - apparently everyone knew about this thing except  me…..always the last to know).  My FIL even found a revving motor for the handlebars, not to mention the wheels actually move and the handlebars turn.  Because I can’t thank him enough for this beautiful masterpiece, I have to publicly acknowledge all of his hard work, time and skill that went into this.  There are rumors flying that he was still working on this on Xmas Eve.

Carved Wood Handcrafted Motorcycle

The boys have had a blast both riding & enjoying their hot, little motorcycle!  Not to mention taking on their new biker personas and beating the crap out of each other deciding who is going to ride first.  Uncle Marc would be so proud!

Vroom! Vroom!

And here’s the man behind the magic - Grandpa Chuck.  Check out more of his beautiful work here.

The Man Behind The Magic

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