Broccoli Cheese Soup

Welcome back to Monday at Got My Reservations. Today I’m introducing my new series which I’m calling Table for Two: Recipes for the Empty Nest.

GotMyReservations Table for Two RecipesWhen I was in the hospital and rehab center for my knee replacement, I was given many menu items that I had rarely eaten over the last forty years of constant food constraints. I had French toast, chicken with noodles, and all kinds of desserts. It was the Boston Creme Pie that put me over the edge. I decided that I was done with dieting, as it obviously wasn’t working, and that I was ready to try a new way of eating. When I came home, I started looking at our favorite recipes and I tried to figure out how I could remake the recipes so that they only made enough for two to four servings. The Table for Two series was born. Continue reading

The Countdown Begins with Worship and Music

Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas; Christians are told in scripture to prepare for the coming of Christ. In the Empty Nest, Advent will also be a time of preparation for a glorious celebration with family and friends during the Christmas holidays. There are many traditions of Christmas that we celebrate which are connected to our religious beliefs, but there are also many things we will do over the next twenty-five days that are all about our secular celebrations.

25 Days of Christmas 2013 Intro

I’m okay with both the sacred and the secularity of Christmas, and that’s what I’m going to be sharing with you during my 25 Days of Christmas 2013 countdown. We are an Empty Nest where the birds will all come home for the holidays for the first time. I talked about my hopes for grace and patience here.

GotMyReservations-Advent WreathAs in life, some days are glorious and awe-inspiring and others are just full of work. I’m going to talk about both types of activities throughout the series. I hope that you will follow along as we clean and decorate, go to church, perform in and attend concerts, go out to dinner, and prepare meals in our home — the normal events in life that lead us closer and closer to Christmas.

Today we celebrated the first Sunday in Advent at church, and watched as two young families lit the first candle of Advent. We remembered the first time our little family participated in a similar service, and our four-year-old daughter read the prayer. It was enough to make the Empty Nest cry to think about that day.

This afternoon we enjoyed a brass concert with many different styles of carols and songs offered by five different brass groups. One of the people in the audience asked if we actually used the pipe organ in our sanctuary, and I assured her that we certainly did — along with our praise band, our folk service, our big band Sunday, our youth services, and our newest additions, masterworks Sunday, which featured strings, choir with pipe organ, and brass quintet. We are an equal opportunity musical church. 🙂 Here’s a beautiful rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus with pipe organ and brass quintet to get you in the mood for Christmas!

I’m ready to get ready for Christmas; will you join me?

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)

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Food Cult: Pasta Bake in the Grill

This going back and forth between my two blogs is feeling kind of incestuous already…

On Saturday, my first full day of retirement, I made a nice dinner for Music Man (he actually did the grilling) and blogged about it here. Today’s post is to talk about using up the leftovers in our refrigerator for Sunday supper.

I decided to make a baked pasta dish using the leftover chicken from Saturday and some fresh mozzarella that was at the end of its useful life. I also had a pesto container that had a crack in it and I needed to get rid of the pesto. Voila! I had the beginnings of a really good supper.

Now that I’m on the cooking with the grill kick, I decided to try baking the pasta in the Weber. I remembered I had a cast iron skillet in the shed and cleaned and seasoned it. I put together the pasta dish, put it into the iron skillet, covered it with aluminum foil and baked it at 350 degrees for about an hour. Since the pasta and the chicken were already cooked, I was just melting the cheese and heating it all up. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of how cute the dish looked when served in the cast iron skillet. I was just hungry!

We also needed to use up a lot of bits and pieces of veggies, so I made a chopped salad and added the last of the spring mix. Finally, we topped off dinner with a mixed fruit salad.

Easy peasy once again! The whole meal took a little more than an hour to put together including pasta boiling time, and we enjoyed sitting outside feeling the breeze come through after a scorcher of a day. We also got two meals out of that lovely $5 chicken and used up stuff in the fridge that needed to be eaten. All in all, a win-win day.

Baked Pasta with Chicken and Fresh Mozzarella

1 bag whole wheat pasta (any shape will do)

1-2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 onion, caramelized (I used the leftovers from the roasted chicken)

8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut into cubes

4 tbs. basil pesto sauce

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup chicken broth


Cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Combine all ingredients in a baking pan, cover with foil, and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes if you want a crispy top. Recipe serves four with good-sized portions, but we split it into two halves and froze the rest for another meal in the empty nest.

I’d also be forever grateful if you also stopped by Retirement 365 and give me some follow and comment love! Since I get about 80 hits on Got My Reservations every day because of this photo which I did not even take myself, my poor new blog is feeling very lonely over there. 🙂

Writer’s Workshop: My Children’s Bedrooms

This week Mama Kat asked me to share a favorite part of my child’s bedroom. I’m an empty nester so what could I say about a child’s bedroom? When I woke up on Saturday morning, it just hit me. My favorite part of my children’s bedrooms is that they don’t live there anymore.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss having them with me in the house and having them immediately available to share their lives. Thank goodness we live in the era of instant communication. I often think about how much I miss my mother and I really miss the last five years of almost daily phone calls with her. Before cell phones, we didn’t talk nearly as much as we did in the years before her death. I’m glad that I’ve been able to forge out new patterns with my own adult children by maintaining closer communication with them than I did with my own parents.

We don’t even live in the same house as the ones in which I raised my kids. Thank goodness we don’t still live in the one in Ravenswood Manor just down the street from our newest incarcerated governor of Illinois. I can’t imagine enduring the media circus that was going on for the last two years, but I digress.

Even though both of the rooms that would have been my children’s bedrooms in this house are decorated as guest rooms,  I still miss the boyness and girlness of the two rooms in our other houses. Bubble gum pink walls come to mind and so do bunk beds.  Barbie dolls and science experiments. And music — lots and lots of music flowing out of bedrooms. Since my kids are seven years apart, they loved different singers and different bands. But we all loved Rockapella.

The fact that my kids both live in their own homes doesn’t mean that they’ve taken their childhood worlds with them. I’m sitting on the chair that my son brought home from college with the university logo on it. My storage area still has the collection of Brio railroad tracks and accessories that my mother-in-law collected for my son (I’m saving it, by the way, for the grandchildren –when the kids are ready) We still have the pink Legos in the garage and we have a pink trunk full of American Girl dolls in storage. The guest room that our daughter uses has some of her Little Mermaid collection on the bookshelves and she still insists on using her treasured duvet from college when she visits.

When I read blog posts from young mothers, it makes my life seem very staid and predictable. I don’t have the excitement and the miracles that come with the daily discoveries in young families. No one in my house is learning to talk or walk and we don’t have to struggle with what we’ll make for dinner. I know exactly what my husband likes to eat and what he doesn’t, and he doesn’t change his mind from day-to-day like little kids do. If there’s a mess in our house, we made it and we’ll pick it up.

Do I miss my children and sometimes wish those bedrooms were once again full of children and their stuff? OMG, yes. California is a very long way away, and even the one who lives in Chicago has a busy life and I am lucky if I see her once a month. But’s that how it should be. My kids are happy, employed, and enjoying their lives. Empty bedrooms are a small price to pay for that.

I’m linked up this week to Mama Kat’s workshop. Please stop by a visit some of her friends — and comment, comment, comment!Enhanced by Zemanta

Why I…Don’t Tweet

I am old. I don’t tweet. That’s basically it.

I can’t continually look at my smart phone. It’s locked in my teacher desk, while I maintain desperate hope that I’ve remembered to turn off the ringer. I can’t even imagine how embarrassing it would be if I forgot and my phone was tweeting all day. I’m so old I probably couldn’t hear it. Not to mention bad for my street cred as a disciplinarian and buster of illicit phones in classrooms.

Didn’t Al Gore create the Internet so that I could look anything up that I needed to know? And then Mark Zuckerberg made it even easier for me to ask ALL of my friends for help. Why do I need Twitter?

I know more about my grown-up kids than both my parents combined and all of their friends ever knew about me. I like that, but do they? I don’t think they want me to have access to their Twitter lives as well. Facebook is enough disclosure.

Blogger Arik Hanson says that Twitter is a time-sucking black hole. That’s the last thing I need in my life.

If you think I’m missing something, please let me know. It has been known to happen that I’m the clueless one in the bunch.

This post is linked up to the Why I… carnival at Vanderbilt Wife. After reading and commenting on my post, go visit the Wife and read what others have to say!

Why I...