Chicken Fried Rice

I am a self-proclaimed failure in the kitchen, but perhaps my luck is changing. Maybe all of my hours of poring over Pinterest recipes have paid off–or maybe I’m just lucky.

Earlier this week, my mom and I made delicious mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwiches on sourdough bread (my idea!). We sliced the mozzarella, quickly dipped it in some balsamic vinegar, we sliced tomatoes as well and put them all in the oven for a few minutes to get the bread toasty and the cheese melty. When they came out of the oven, we put basil on them and then served them up! We paired them with roasted tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, squash and zucchini tossed in a tiny bit of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. That was success #1 in the kitchen this week.

Success #2 was chicken fried rice.

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • 1/3 of a Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1/2 of a zucchini, cut into french fry sized pieces (but shorter)
  • 3 baby carrots, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • soy sauce

I started by cooking two frozen chicken breasts in an 8″ x 8″ glass dish covered in aluminum foil. I put a few pats of butter, a little bit of soy sauce and a little bit of the onion (about a quarter of the diced onion). Every once and a while I turned the chicken breasts over. The directions on the package said that it should take 22-26 minutes to cook, but took closer to 30-40. When it was done cooking, I used kitchen shears to cut the chicken into cubes.

While that was cooking, I prepared 2 cups of uncooked rice per the instructions on the rice box. When my rice finished cooking, it was soggy! I tried leaving it on longer and it wasn’t getting any better. Ew! But, I  read online that if you spread your rice thin on a plate and microwave it for a few minutes, then fluff it with a fork, it helps dry it out. So, I tried it and it worked! Wooohoo!

While I cooked my rice and my chicken, I cut up my vegetables. When the rice and chicken finished cooking, I put a few more pats of butter in my frying pan with the rest of the chopped onion, the zucchini, and the carrots and sauteed them for just a few minutes. I added the egg and a little soy sauce and I scrambled the egg in the pan until it was cooked. Then, I added the chicken and rice and stirred it all together. I put more soy sauce (but not too much) in and stirred it all together one last time.

Now, if someone would just clean the kitchen for me, I’d be all set!

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Portfolio: Tornado Warning

This piece was written for my Techniques of Media Writing class at Gardner-Webb University in the fall of 2011. It is a creative nonfiction piece.

 

“Ooooooooooooooowaaaaaaaaaaaap!!! Oooooooooooooooooooooowaaaaaaap!!!”  Half a dozen or so girls in their individual rooms on the top floor of the old brick dormitory stopped what they were doing as the emergency alert system wailed. They each strained to hear the message that they knew would follow.  The mechanical voice whined throughout campus, but it was muffled at best through the heavy rain and blustery wind.  “Ooooooooooooooowaaaaaaaaaaaap!!! Oooooooooooooooooooooowaaaaaaap!!!”  The alert gave way to an eerie silence.  One by one, the puzzled girls hesitantly opened their doors and peeked into the hallway.

“What did it say?”

“I dunno.  Hey Amy, Could you understand it?”

“Nope.”

They all looked at each other quizzically.

“Of course Melissa isn’t here,” one girl quipped after she checked the RA’s door.

“Typical.”

Somewhere a phone vibrated.  A few more beeped, alerting their owners to an incoming message from University Police.  “Tornado warning until 5:45.  Seek shelter now.”

As if on cue, the RA’s from first and second floor appeared on the scene and quickly took control of the situation.

Sarah, a loud and spirited girl bellowed, “All right y’all!  Everyone down to the first floor bathroom!!! NOW!!!”

“But I have to go to work!  Am I not allowed to go to work?”

“I’m going to say ‘no,’” Sara replied.  “Let’s go ladies!”

Unsure of how long they’d be gone, a few of the girls grabbed some books and notes and several others grabbed their computers and began the decent down two flights of stairs to first floor.

The posse that traipsed down certainly was a sight to behold.  Girls of all different shapes, sizes and styles—some in their pajamas, others dressed up from classroom observations and still others dressed for the gym.

The brightly lit, hot and humid first floor bathroom was already crowded.  The girls surveyed the situation.  Knowing that they would likely be stuck here for at least half an hour, many of them opted to plop down on the floor.  Still others nervously eyed the floor and opted to lean up against a wall or the sink.  Not everyone fit, so some sat along the wall in the hall directly outside of the bathroom.

Sarah stepped in the bathroom and surveyed the situation.  “Awwwwwww! Aren’t y’all precious!  Smile for a picture,” she gushed as she took out her cell phone to snap a picture.  “One. Twooo. Three!  Awesome! Y’all are just too cute.  This is totes deff going on Facebook.”

“Ugh! My phone doesn’t have any service! I’ve tried to send this text three times and it won’t send.  Hey Jeanie, does your phone have service?”  Amy asked.

“Yeah,” I responded.

“Can I text my mom from your phone to let her know what’s going on?”

“Sure.”

Amy took my phone and attempted to figure out how to text on it.  After several minutes of trying to figure out how to send a message, she looked at me in frustration and confusion.

“The message icon is in the dock on the bottom, right hand corner of the screen.  Press that, then press the button in the very top, right hand corner of the screen.  It should look like a square with a pencil in it.  Enter your mom’s phone number in the ‘to’ field and then type your message in the little rounded box.  Does that help?”

“Yup.  Your phone is too complicated!”

Country music floated from one corner of the bathroom, where a girl was playing music from her cell phone.  Laughter rang out from the other side of the room.  Everywhere you looked, girls were talking, studying and carrying on.

A tall, lanky girl burst into the bathroom.  She was wearing tennis shoes, black athletic pants and a gray Batman hoodie (complete with batman ears) with the hood up.  Her sweatshirt bore the evidence of the torrential downpour outside.

“Heeeeeey Giiiirl!   How are you girl?” She asked a friend of hers.  “Alisha, where are you? I want my food!”

She looked around and didn’t see her friend.  “Where’d she go? She’s got my food!  She betta not have run off wit my food!”

Her friend peeked in the bathroom from the other side.  “Girl. I’m right here! Come get your food!”

One girl checked the area forecast on her phone.  “So, a tornado has touched down in Cleveland County, a few miles north of school.”  She continued scouring Weather.com to find out more information regarding the storm system.

“Well, this isn’t exactly how I planned my afternoon to go,” quipped one girl.

“I know, right?  I’m going to be so late for work!” another said.

“Hey Sarah, do you have any idea how long we’ll be in here?” yet another asked.

“Nope.”

“Well, then can I go back to my room and get my computer so that I can work on my Western Civ project?”

“You can go after Megan gets back and Lauren goes and gets back.  We’re only letting y’all leave one at a time,” Sarah replied.

A few minutes passed of laid back chatter and, at times boisterous laughter as the girls embraced the situation and made the best of being stuck in the bathroom.  Finally, University Police sent out a new text message saying that the tornado warning had expired, but that a tornado watch was in effect until midnight.

“Alright ladies.  I guess you can go.  But be safe.  Don’t do anything dumb!” Sarah announced.

The girls all collected their things, stood up and slowly dispersed back to their rooms.

“Well, that was fun!”

“Certainly wasn’t expected.”

When the third floor girls reached their rooms, they scurried around, making up for lost time.  Several, including myself, debated about the safety of driving to work in the messy weather.  The sky was still an eerie gray green color and the rain was coming down in sideways sheets.

I finished changing into my uniform, donned my coat and grabbed my umbrella off of my hook.

“Well, I’m going to go ahead and go on into work,” I said.  “I’m already going to be thirty minutes late and I’m closing manager tonight.  I really can’t afford to be any later.”

“I can’t believe they’re making you come to work in this weather,” said one girl.

“Be safe! If you die, it will be all Chick-fil-A’s fault!  I will personally call corporate and complain.  I will make them name the next sandwich after you!” Amy said.

“Thanks, friend,” I sighed.  “That’s so comforting.  If I die, at least it was in the pursuit of chicken and at least I will have the next chicken sandwich named after me.  And on that note, I’m leaving.  I’ll text you when I get to work to let you know I got there safely.  Bye y’all!”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those verses that I tend to gloss over. Having gone to private, Christian schools throughout my entire life, I know Jeremiah 29:11 about as well as I know my ABCs. It’s the verse that gets pulled out in every turning point in life, as well as every tribulation.

However, as much time as I have spent pouring over verse 11, the rest of the chapter often gets left out. It’s part of a letter written to the Israelites while they were living in captivity in Babylon.

I particularly like verses 12 and 13. I feel like they complete verse 11.  Verse 11 shows God’s goodness and his provision for His people. However, the next two verses outline our response to Him.

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Our response to God’s plan for us is to come to Him and to communicate with Him with “ALL your heart.” Also, it says, “You WILL seek Me and find me.”

Earlier I mentioned that this is a verse I tend to gloss over. If that’s the case, why did I just write five paragraphs about it? Well, sometimes God takes those things that you gloss over and shoves them right in front of your face so you can’t ignore it any more.  Well, that pretty much happened tonight.

You see, I’m kind of at a place where I don’t really know what God’s plans are for me. I kind of do… at least I know the basics of what I feel He’s called me to do. But the details are fuzzy. Let me tell you, I hate fuzzy details. I like knowing where I’m going, when I’m going, what I need to wear and what will be served for dinner a month in advance (okay, maybe that’s a slight exageration), but I love knowing details. Just last week, a friend and I were supposed to go to his family’s lake house for the Fourth of July. The problem was, he didn’t know when they were planning on leaving until he woke up the morning of (only 20 minutes before they decided to leave, might I add). Boy did that ruffle my feathers! And that was just plans for one day.

Sometimes I’m tempted to get frustrated with God and cop an attitude with Him. This is when the last two verses kick in. Rather than being angry, I must choose to pray and to search for Him with all my heart. And then, and only then, will I feel peace. Not necessarily peace that comes from knowing what His plans are, but peace that comes from steady, enduring trust in Him.

His plans aren’t always what I want them to be. Oftentimes, I find that hard to understand. Sometimes so much so that I cling tighter to what I want, making it more painful when God has to pry it from me. But God knows far better than I.  In fact, as Garth Brooks said, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

“Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.”
~Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers”

Portfolio: Kim Kardiashian’s “quick fix” column

This piece was written for my Techniques of Media Writing class at Gardner-Webb University in the fall of 2011. It is an editorial column. Here is the link to the news story it’s based on.

 

Just a few days ago, the hash tag #ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage was trending on the popular social networking site, Twitter, in response to Kim Kardashian’s announcement that her 72-day marriage was ending in divorce.

When looking for something to write about, Kim Kardashian was not at the top of my list.  I do not follow the Kardashian drama on MTV and I do not care to buy any of the Kardashian products.  I do not consider myself fashionable or at all up to date on pop culture.  However, when a friend suggested that I write about Kardashian’s divorce, the wheels started turning.  I may not be passionate about the Kardashian clan or any of their publicity stunts, but I am extremely passionate about marriage.

While Kardashian’s marriage is not the norm, it is a reflection of the value our society puts on marriage. Divorce rates are steadily on the rise throughout the world, particularly in the United States. We live in a society where divorce is viewed as an “easy way out.”

With a “quick fix” so easily available, couples often fail to consider all the ramifications of a divorce.

Divorce is expensive. The average divorce in America costs $20,000—that doesn’t even include child support and alimony.

Another heavy consequence of divorce is the emotional trauma it causes the individuals involved. This doesn’t just apply to the couple, but also their children and sometimes even their close friends or family.

Children should not be punished for their parent’s poor decisions. Unfortunately, when parents go their separate ways, children are left lurching in the middle. They are often plagued with guilt or loneliness. They can think that they are the reason that one of their parents left or that the parent that left is abandoning them.

Children that come from families with broken marriages are more likely to experience broken marriages themselves. This can point back to the fact that they may have never had a successful marriage modeled for them and also that they are more likely to see divorce as a normal occurrence.

My biggest issue with divorce is that I believe that your integrity is one of the most important things one can possess.  Marriage is not something to be taken lightly. When you say “I do,” you are making a vow—a forever promise—“for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, ‘til death do us part.”  Divorce blatantly breaks that promise and makes a liar out of those who made the vow.

If we’re making that kind of permanent promise, we should put some serious thought into whether or not the person we are considering marrying is someone we can spend the rest of our life with—because that is the promise we are making.

Mutual trust and intimacy are key to a marriage that lasts. While physical intimacy is certainly an aspect of a healthy marriage, exclusive, emotional intimacy is crucial as well. True intimacy comes when there are no secrets and you are truly vulnerable with your spouse (or spouse-to-be). This is why it is vital that you don’t rush into a marriage, you have to work up to this level of intimacy and trust.

A Toast

Some dear friends of mine got married recently. I was called upon to give a toast at the reception, and this is what came to my heart as I pondered what to say to them. Hope you enjoy.

 

First of all, I want to thank you for inviting me and everyone else here today. It is truly a privilege to be included in the most special day of your life. I especially want to thank the bride for thinking of me and counting me as one of her closest confidants and friends and including me in your bridal party. It is an honor.

To be honest, when I realized I would be toasting at your reception, I didn’t really know what to say. I haven’t been to many weddings, so I didn’t really know where to begin. How do you sum up a lifetime’s worth of friendship and a heart full of well wishes into a few minutes? So, I decided to do a Google search for “how to write a wedding toast.”

Here are some of the suggestions I found:

“May ‘for better or for worse’ be far better than worse.”

“Here’s to the bride—may she share everything with her groom—including the housework.”

“To the two secrets of a long and happy marriage—a good sense of humor and a short memory.”

The trite, albeit humorous, ditties just weren’t cutting it for me, so I realized I was going to have to kick my creative juices in high gear to come up with something better than that. So, here it goes.

As you two become one, may it not be in name alone, but may you be of one life, one love and one purpose.

May you be of one life—Live in purposeful unity. Walk the road of this life together: side by side, hand in hand, heart to heart to the very end.

May you be of one love—Equally and passionately love each other and live that out through constant service to your mate. Boldly and bravely love your future children. Create a firm foundation in your family for them to grow and become the godly leaders of tomorrow. And, unselfishly love those around you so that they may see Christ in your lives, your service and your marriage.

And finally, may you be of one purpose—To glorify God and to point others to Him.

So may we not only toast to you two and wish you well, but may we commission you as one unit now in the mission field of life.

To the bride and groom as they begin this beautiful journey in a lifetime of one-ness.

Blogging is hard

Let’s be serious for a moment… blogging is hard. Well, not for everyone, but you see, I’m not extremely creative or artsy (coloring in the lines is still a chore for me), I have no future in culinary arts (I am getting better, though) and I’m having a good day when I can get my bangs to cooperate, much less the rest of my hair. So, out goes the DIY blog, the recipe blog and the hair and makeup tutorial blog.

What do I blog about, then? Sure, I have some pretty random, funny things happen to me. But they don’t happen every day. And seriously, who really wants to read a blog post about how I practiced doing my hair for my roommate’s wedding for three hours last night? Okay, I can think of a few: my mom, my dad, my grandma… you get the point.

I’ve set a goal to blog twice a week and so far it isn’t going so well. But, I’m doing better than I’ve done before. Maybe I should just start writing about all of those crazy, weird things that have happened to me in the past. Or maybe I will include some DIY, recipes and hairstyles (although, they may be classified as disaster stories). Maybe I should write about what I’m learning in my quiet time.

Regardless of what I’m writing though, I will be writing. That is the purpose of this blog, after all. To hone a craft through practice.