Three(ish) Ingredient Crock Pot Chicken

We’re switching it up this Monday with a recipe instead of a mani – my nails are in TERRIBLE condition, and I just wasn’t feeling any of the already photographed polishes I’ve got. So instead, today we have another of those lazy day recipes that I’m so fond of. It’s super fast to prep, super flexible depending on what kind of mood you’re in that day, and it seriously couldn’t be easier.

Three(ish) Ingredient Crock Pot Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar tomato-based pasta sauce of your choice (I used Vodka Sauce this time)
  • Chicken (Breasts or Tenders both work great, just make sure whatever you get is boneless)
  • Mushrooms
  • Salt, Pepper, other spices as desired

Chicken-in-crockpot

First, clean the chicken (honestly this is the most time and labor intensive part of this whole recipe). Then throw it all in the bottom of a greased crock pot.

mushrooms

Then dump in your mushrooms. Just dump ’em right in.

Sauce

Last, dump your jar of pasta sauce on top of everything. I like to put about about 1/3 of a cup of water in the jar, shake it around to get all the sauce left stuck to the sides, and add that too – it helps the sauce drip down to really get at the chicken while it cooks.

all-together-in-the-crockpot

And that’s it.

Seriously, that’s it.

You can add some spices and seasonings if you don’t think the sauce is enough, but if you’re using a sauce you really like, a little salt and pepper is really all you need. I added crushed red pepper this time, because I like my vodka sauce to have a little bit of a kick.

crockpot-controls

Then throw that crock pot on high for 6 hours (and yes, I know, the outside of our crockpot needs a good wipe-down), and you’re golden. I like to stir once or twice at the 2 hour and 4 hour mark, just to get the sauce nice and distributed as it cooks, and then towards the end I’ll go in with two forks and shred what little of the chicken hasn’t already fallen apart of its own volition.

Shredded-Chicken-all-done

End result: yum.

It works equally well over pasta or rice, or even just on its own (although I prefer it with a starch to mop up all the extra saucy goodness.

Enjoy!

What’s Up, Thursday?

Because we’ve had a bunch of pre-scheduled posts in a row, I wanted to do a quick “currently” post yesterday (The title “What’s Up, Wednesday?” just sounds SO MUCH BETTER), but I kiiiinnnndddd of let yesterday get away from me.

It all started when I started trying to find the text of the eyewitness testimony by John S. Smith about the Sand Creek Massacre to share with my students. Then before I realized it was happening, I found myself in the middle of a four hour primary document bender.

Historian problems. Psh.

But anyway, better late than never, I guess.

Currently I’m…

…working on: some book reviews for on here. It’s astounding how out of practice at that kind of writing I am, and how hard it is for me to even begin to sum up my opinions on a book without getting all history-teachery and finding myself doing EXTRA research instead of just telling you what I thought about the damned thing.

 

 

…listening to: Irish Music. Valentine’s Day is over, so it’s officially time to get into St. Paddy’s Day Parade Mode. (St. Paddy’s Day is uhhhh… kind of a big deal in the NEPA region. The nearby city of Scranton hosts one of the largest in the country, actually.) Even though I think I’ve finally reached that threshold of adulthood where I won’t be participating in “Parade Day” – all our friends who used to host parties have either moved into quiet neighborhoods or out of the city entirely – it’s still an exciting time. Mainly because I LOVE Irish music. I don’t know why. I don’t even have a SPECK of Irish in me. I just love it – there’s such joy, and pain, and a complicated relationship to a difficult history contained within so many of these songs. I can’t get enough.

 

 

…watching: Parks and Recreation. Jim and I started this a couple weeks ago, and I’m in love. Leslie Knope is everything I could possibly want in a female lead. She’s strong, she’s determined, she’s smart, but she’s also not perfect – she’s nerdy, and goofy, and can be awkward, and basically I just love her. It’s killing me that we promised each other not to watch it unless we’re together (so that one of us doesn’t get ahead of the other), because I seriously can’t wait to see each new episode.

…feeling: numb. Literally numb. I just got back from a trip to the dentist to have several cavities filled, and I can’t feel half of my face. Ugh. And I have to go back next week to get one more taken care of. Moral of the story? Not having dental insurance really shouldn’t have stopped me from going to the dentist, because it only made it worse once I finally went back. Ugh. And I’m so hungry too…

IMG_20150215_153045

…obsessing over: Disney Tsum Tsums. Oh. My. God. They’re seriously the cutest things I’ve seen in yearrssss. It started when I found the mobile app, which is a dangerously addictive game… but when I found out that these little adorable balls of Disney love were REAL THINGS?? Oh god. It’s supremely lucky that I found them when I did, because my bank account is still shockingly empty from the holidays, so I can’t get out of hand collecting them. Jim ended up getting me my favorite one for Valentine’s Day (see above – isn’t he cute???), but I can’t buy any more. I can’t, or else this would end up as a problem VERY quickly.

2015-02-19_12-44-26

…reading: Letters to Jackie – Condolences from a Grieving Nation. It is exactly as harrowing to read as I thought it would be. But so good. The most touching are the letters from children, and from people who actually very much disliked Kennedy and his policies, but still mourned along with the nation anyway.

What have you all been up to?

Mani Monday: Butter London Aston

Butter-London-Aston

Just a super quick Mani Monday here today with Butter London’s Aston. This polish is one of my tried and true favorites, and one of my favorite “professional but still fun” colors ever. I’m lucky that in teaching college I don’t really have to conform to any office standards regarding wild nail color, but occasionally I’ll have a meeting or a gig where, well, blue with multicolored glitter just isn’t appropriate. And when that’s the case (and I actually have my nails done instead of bare), Butter London Aston is usually what I grab first. I will admit the color works a little better on me when it’s not the dead of winter and my skin isn’t so pale it borders on translucent, but it’s not so bad that I have to confine it to summer use.

As with most Butter London polishes the formula is great, dry time is relatively quick, and the finish is beautiful. In general I’ve really found that you get what you pay for with these polishes – I don’t think I’ve had a disappointing Butter London yet, and Aston is no different. Just enough shimmer to keep it exciting without crossing the line into problematic in a professional setting. My bottle is getting juuusssttt slightly thick, but I’ve had it for a year or two now, and it’s seen a decent amount of use (read: time with the bottle open exposed to air), so that’s to be expected.

Overall rating: A.

Are you a Butter London fan?

Last-minute DIY Valentine’s Day Roundup

heart friendship bracelets

I don’t do roundups much, but with Valentine’s Day coming up TOMORROW (I know, right? When did that happen, and what happened to January?) I figured a quick roundup of fast, last-minute DIY projects from around the web might be just the ticket.

Starting with these adorable heart-shaped friendship bracelets from HonestlyWTF (pictured above – not my photo, clicking will take you to the original)…

This adorable printable from The Dating Divas.

These cute little DIY fabric heart valentines from Flamingo Toes. LOTS of other awesome ideas on this site as well, and these particularly would make an adorable scrap-busting project.

This quick and easy crochet heart garland over on Craftaholics Anonymous.

… and lastly, if you’re looking for printable Valentines cards, I’m obsessed with these little Star Wars Valentines from Tips from a Typical Mom.

Hope everyone out there has a lovely Valentine’s day (or Galentine’s day)!

Magpie’s Adventures in Bullet Journaling

Bullet-Journaling-Title-image

Bullet Journaling has really fascinated me ever since Jenn from With Luck Blog brought it to my attention way back when I posted about planners. The concept seemed to work really well with the system I was currently using for my to-do lists, but there was one big issue with it – the inability to plan ahead by more than a month or so. As a freelance musician, I sometimes book weddings and masses months and even years in advance (funerals, not so much), so the lack of a static monthly calendar in the system was a major flaw for me.

But everything else seemed so great… so I decided in the new year I was going to try to figure out a way to adapt the system to fit my needs and give it a shot.

Notebook-Closed

The notebook I chose is one I got on clearance at Barnes and Noble – it’s clearly an imitation of a moleskine, without the price tag (I think I paid $3?). So far it’s held up similarly, with the added bonus of having a gorgeous butterfly wing cover.

Inside-Cover-Notebook-brand

The brand is Piccadilly – the paper quality is great, and again comparable to moleskine.

bullet-journaling-key

I used a pretty Project Life card to make my key – I use mostly shapes for the actual “bullet” part of it, and the color coding is for calendar entries. My “bullets” are mostly done with whatever pen I have handy, and for my calendar I have a 10-pack of Triplus Fineliners.

index

This is my index page – not sure how useful this will actually be for me. I don’t do too much idea logging other than blog posts, and I’ve got little post-it tabs to demarcate where my idea log for the month is along with my current active calendar sections.

monthly-calendar

To solve my need to plan ahead problem, I printed out these lovely monthly calendars from The Handmade Home, trimmed and pasted them in the first 12 spreads of the journal. Getting them folded properly and to lie flat was a bit finicky, but is proving massively worth it. Having this monthly calendar allows me to plan ahead as needed without lugging around a second book/planner specifically for this purpose.

Note that my calendar is not actually this empty – it’s actually pretty disgustingly flooded with stuff. I just feel a bit weird about posting my schedule and where I will be and when for all to see on the interwebs, so I edited out my entries in photoshop. But it should be noted that this is where the color-coding happens. And you can see what each color means on my key above.

In general, I keep the “big happenings” on these pages. The “out of the ordinary” stuff like concerts, weddings, gigs, doctor’s appts, birthdays – but not the day to day work stuff like meetings, classes, rehearsals, and the sort of daily grind things.

bill-checklist

Following the monthly calendar spreads, I have a bill checklist – I’ve always kept track using a checklist like this, and now having it in with all my other stuff is great.

(Before you say anything, yes, I know I don’t have a ton of bills – I’ve only listed the stuff I don’t have on auto-pay here, and I’m super lucky to have most of my utilities included in my rent.)

blog-ideas-and-habit-list

Then, at the start of each month, I have a spread that includes space for logging blog post ideas, and keeping track of habits I want to make permanent.

monthly-daily

After the Ideas/Habits spread, then comes the daily listing of the month – here’s another place where I altered the Bullet Journal formula to suit my own needs. Instead of one line per day, I leave a big block for more detailed calendar work. At the beginning of the month I go through and transfer the “big stuff” from the monthly spreads, and then use the rest of the space for “daily grind” sort of stuff – meetings with students, rehearsals, classes, lunches, etc… These are also color-coded.

(Again, I edited out my entries – most boxes are pretty full, I’m just not feeling great about having the details of my daily schedule up for the world to see.)

And then comes my daily lists – here you can see I pretty much stick with the bullet journal formula – although I occasionally forget to “migrate” tasks I don’t complete (as you can see, grocery shopping is one I let go pretty frequently… actually as I type this I’m eating a bowl full of mashed pumpkin for lunch because that’s pretty much all I have left in the cabinets… whoopssss). I use pretty washi tape to differentiate between days, and for a lot of other decorative purposes throughout the book.

Daily-lists

So far this system has been working out super well – particularly now that the semester is underway. It’s handy to have my Must-Do lists for the day alongside literally EVERYTHING ELSE, without adding the heft of a big leather binder planner to my bag. The only potential problem I see coming is if I end up running out of space in the book, since the monthly calendars are already affixed and filled – swapping them into another book without having to re-print and re-do everything might be logistically problematic. But judging by the rate at which I used pages so far this year, I *might* be okay until next January first…

But I suppose we’ll see!

Do you bullet journal? If not, what do you use to plan? Any tips or tricks you want to share? Let us know in the comments!

Mani Monday: Color Club You’re So Vain

Color-Club-purple-with-top-coat

Today I have for you a Color Club polish I picked up out of a bin at The Christmas Shoppes called You’re So Vain. I was initially suuuuppppeeerrrr disappointed in this polish, mainly because I did not know at the time I used it that it was part of the Seven Deadly Sins collection, which is all textured polishes. So I judged it all assuming that it was a normal, smooth finish polish.

I bought it because I was super excited about the lovely holo sparkle it had in the bottle – I’ve heard very good things about Color Club’s holo polishes, but have never actually seen one in real life. Putting it on the nail left me wanting, however – the formula is very thick and goopy, which makes it difficult to work with. It didn’t spread easily, dried almost TOO fast, and left a very gritty finish, as you can see in the next picture which was taken before I applied the topcoat.

Color-Club-Youre-so-vain-no-topcoat

Now that I know that it’s supposed to be a textured polish, however, all these things make sense, because in general that’s how textured polishes tend to be in my experience. And that’s why I generally don’t like them. Knowing that it’s SUPPOSED to be a textured polish (a very mild texture, to be sure though) makes all the difference in the review though, because the end result is indeed pretty – with or without topcoat. I just personally don’t think textured polishes are worth the extra fuss they require.

Overall rating: C, but a very biased C. If I liked textured polishes, this would probably get an A-.

Color-Club-Youre-So-Vain-Closeup

Shark Art

You’ll have to excuse my absence over the past few days – I ended up getting snowed in at my parent’s place without my camera (and the memory card I had all the blog post photos on), and haven’t had a chance to do all the editing I wanted to do.

As an apology I photoshopped Left Shark into some great pieces of art for your amusement*.

First, the Vitruvian Shark:

VitruvianManShark

Left Shark Crossing the Alps:

shark crossing the alps

Nightsharks:

Nighthawks shark

School of Sharkthens:

school of athens shark

American Sharkic:

American Gothic Shark

And finally, The Creation of Left Shark:

creation of shark

In other news, I think there may be something seriously wrong with me.

*Oh who am I kidding, I did it for me. But hopefully you get a chuckle out of them too.