Creamy Chicken & Gnocchi Casserole recipe

My family loves the Olive Garden’s chicken and gnocchi soup. When we can’t get to the Olive Garden, we’ve found that this copycat recipe is pretty good. My daughter has been requesting that I make the soup, but I haven’t been in the mood for soup. Maybe it’s this lack of a winter we’ve been having this year, or maybe it’s because I’m just not the biggest fan of soup.

Not too long ago, I came up with this recipe for Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole. I started thinking, if I could turn chicken noodle soup into a casserole, what other soups would work. Armed with the copycat recipe for chicken and gnocchi soup and my creamy chicken noodle soup casserole, I crafted this new recipe. Even as I type this up, I am dining on some of the leftovers. Delicious!

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Overtired and Stretched Thin

With everything that has been going on around here, I haven’t been getting much sleep. Even when we get to bed at a decent hour, I lay there for what feels like forever. I stare out into the blackness, my mind thinking on a zillion different things.

Last night, we stayed up extremely late. We stayed up until the sun was coming up. We have a bit to get done this weekend, but we decided to just sleep in and see what happens. Of course, crawling into bed past five am means that we overslept today.

Woke up today after what was allegedly a full night’s sleep feeling more drained and exhausted than when I went to bed. I know I didn’t lay there as I usually do. I know that I was so exhausted that I couldn’t hear the thoughts fighting for my attention as I drifted off.

I’m overwhelmed by everything I need to get done. I need to manage my time so much differently than I have been. I need to put my nose to the grindstone and find us a new place to live, work on three different book ideas that I’ve been tossing around, homeschool my daughter, show the house we’ve been staying in to potential buyers whenever they may show up, keep up with my household and familial duties, plan a move and figure out how we are going to finance that move. This includes trying to bring in extra income through freelancing and my eBay sales. I’ve also been trying to increase sales for the books. Whatever it takes, right?

Monday, I will begin doing what I do best, writing things down. I’d call it making a list, but that would be the biggest lie I tell you. It starts off as a list. Then, I move on to the next list. It starts off similar to what I learned in school for organizing a research paper. (topic 1, subtopic 1, supporting points, topic 2, etc…) Then, something I write in one of those later topics triggers a thought for an earlier topic, it gets noted to the side, and I ultimately end up with a list overrun with notes. That’s just my writing process.

I’ve been feeling stretched a little thin these days, feeling overtired and overwhelmed. Feeling a need to figure out a better way, but a little unsure of where to start. I know I need to plan my time and get into a routine so that things will run a whole lot smoother.

We’re spending the weekend knocking off some important things from the things to do list that are one and done, cross them off of my list. Maybe Monday I’ll put in my earbuds, put on some iTunes, and tune out the world around me for a bit. I’ll get myself organized and feel a little more centered.

What do you do to get organized and recenter yourself?


Something has got to go right, right?

There are so many things going on at once around here. We’ve got things going wrong left and right. We are in the process of trying to find a new place. 

Our needs aren’t out of reach. We need a place that is affordable, preferably with 3 bedrooms. We need a place near enough to my husband’s work so that he’s not spending copious amounts of his check filling his gas tank. And, we need someplace that will allow Bear B. He’s only 65 pounds of mostly fluff. He’s a border collie/chow chow hybrid. Neither of those breeds is on any banned list (although I don’t believe ANY breed should be on any banned list, because, like children, puppies are innocent until someone teaches them to be otherwise). Most people think he is much larger. The average person guesses he’s between 90 and 95 pounds. It’s all the fur that comes from his chow chow mother. 

So, like I said, our needs aren’t much. We are currently applying for residency nearby. It fits our needs perfectly. We are awaiting to be approved. Neither of us have the greatest of credit. Mostly, it’s those stupid student loans we took out to get degrees in fields that seem to either not exist or not have the need for people that was claimed when we signed up. Student loans we may NEVER be able to afford to pay back with the job market being what it is and wages barely covering the cost of living for most Americans. 

I’m not much for praying, but I am praying now. Praying that we hear back quickly and that the words we hear are you’re approved. I’m praying that we will find the money we need to finance this move. We’ve needed to move for some time. We’ve need to get a place of our own. We’ve been playing caretaker to my husband’s grandmother’s estate since she passed away last year. Before that, I was her primary live in caregiver while she was sick. We’ve put our lives on hold for almost two years, now. 

Truth is, I feel like it’s gotta be our turn. I feel like we have given and given, receiving nothing in return. I’m ready to cash in on all the good I’ve done. Is that a thing? Does anyone know where the good deed bank is? I need to make a withdrawal. 

I wish I knew a thing or two about using GoFundMe (or something like that) to obtain needed funds… However, I’m not above collecting prayers. If you happen to be having a conversation with God, could you ask Him to look out for my family and help us move on to the next chapter in our lives? 

Winter’s Respite Readathon mid-event check-in

This is my official check in for the Winter’s Respite readathon. If you follow me around social media, then you may be aware that I have been absolutely failing at getting any reading done.

I’ll pick up the book I am currently reading, The Indian in the Cupboard, and my mind will promptly wander off. I will read a sentence or two and then I’m off working on another project.

I did manage to finally settle my brain and get some reading done last night. I’m not sure if it is ultimately going to end up counting as readathon reading. See, the rules are pretty simple. Relax and read when and where you can. At least one of the books you choose to read during the readathon must be an adult novel.

If I cannot manage to finish the children’s book I’m reading, I will never move on to another. I cannot have more than one book going at the same time. I start and finish one book. The only exception to that rule is when I have a book full of short stories, I may read one or two stories out of it before picking up a novel and, when the novel is complete, pick up the collection of short stories with the next story.

As for the reading, I made it all the way to chapter 9. This is about halfway through the book. Omri’s best friend, Patrick, has just shown his true colors. As I read it, I’m thinking with friends like that… I wonder if as a child I picked up on the fact that his friend wasn’t a good friend at all. I bet that, back then, my focus was on wishing for my own magic cupboard and looking at my own plastic toys to decide which one’s I would place into the magic cupboard and bring to life.

Even as I write this, I know that I am not going to end this post by getting back to my book. I know that I am going to find a million other things that require my attention and a million things that steal my attention.

For those of you participating, how is your progress going at this mid-event check-in?

Juggling is tougher than it looks…

I am going to have to postpone the giveaway. I had thought that the books were here in the house. My husband was certain he knew exactly where he had put them. It turns out that we were both wrong. He looked everywhere that he could think of. It turns out that the books are still in storage. He is going to get out there just as soon as he can. However, our storage garage has gate hours, and my husband does have to work. This means, it could be as late as next weekend before he can get out there. I do apologize for the delay.

On the other bad news front, I am doing absolutely terrible in my readathon. If this was a readathon in which I was getting paid per page or chapter or book, I would definitely be disappointed. I believe I have finished a total of two chapters in The Indian in the Cupboard. I am enjoying the story. It is full of nostalgia and adventure.

I have, once again, placed far too much on my plate. It seems like there is so much to get done, and there just isn’t enough time to do it in. Some deadlines are a month while others are by the end of the day. There is laundry and dinner and school to attend to. I want to ensure that there is time for myself. My time with my husband is limited during the day throughout the week, so I want to make certain that I take advantage of every moment we do have. Instead, I end up giving up and watching tv. It’s my worst addiction. Give me my Netflix and a pot of coffee, and I am absolutely covered for the next few hours.

This, of course, is not a good way to spend my time. I need to be accomplishing far more than I have been lately. I am tired at the end of the day. I am tired throughout the day. I am fighting to keep my eyes open, lacking the focus I need to complete some of the oh so simple tasks I have placed on my ever growing list. Which, by the way, I just added that hexagonal blanket to. It turns out that it isn’t the one I finished. For the giveaway, which I remind you has been delayed, I will instead be including my blanket I’ve named Not your Grandma’s granny square blanket. The pattern is similar to that of the log cabin afghan.

So, I’ve got projects galore that need to be completed. I have books I’d love to get around to reading. I’ve got a life I can’t seem to keep up with while dodging the avalanche falling around me. I’ve got a family to care for and a career I’m still trying to build and manage. I’ve got homeschool I never planned on teaching.

As a child, I tried to learn to juggle. I remember choosing different objects to juggle, knowing that the jugglers all chose items based on their weight. I was positive that I would find the perfect weight that I could manage. I tried balls, bean bags, and various other small objects. Whatever they were, I never did manage to keep them in the air. Over time, I became good enough to keep them off the floor. I always felt a sense of pride at this accomplishment. They didn’t fly wildly anymore. They didn’t land everywhere. I always managed to catch all three.

In life, I juggle a lot. Heck, show me a person who doesn’t. As children, we juggle school, home, chores, and play. When we grow up, we juggle bills and work with responsibilities, family, and friends. We throw in dating, then marriage mixed with children and pets. We add in our own desires and needs with those around us. We try to keep everyone happy and healthy. We take care of meals and shopping. We juggle. A lot.

As a child, I learned to keep those balls in my hands. They might not have all been in the air when they were supposed to be. Maybe I cheated and caught without release. It’s easier to control things when you hold tightly. As an adult, I still try to hold everything tightly,  gingerly tossing into the air things that don’t need my immediate focus. Problem is, I have only those two hands. The same two hands that could barely manage to keep three off the floor. Now, I’m juggling far more than three. I’m juggling countless things all at once. And, is my habit, I’m clinging tightly to every single one of them. I gingerly toss one little thing, but only so high as to not lose sight of it. I almost immediately snatch it back up again.

Even if it’s not in my hand at the moment, even if it’s not my primary point of focus, I cannot get it out of my mind. As I write this post to you, as I let my mind wander and list a few of those things for you, I have a dozen more still bouncing through my head. I’m planning dinner while remembering the conversation I need to have with my eldest child. I am thinking about the meals I want to make this week, I am thinking about the recipes I want to try in the near future. I am working through a few problems that I cannot figure the solution to while thinking of what chapters my daughter needs to do for school this upcoming week. I am fighting off the disappointment in the fact that I must postpone the giveaway. I am thinking about the books I want to read, the books I want to write, the blankets I want to crochet, and the tshirts I’d love to turn into pillows.

And when my brain is all over the place like this, how do I focus on the one thing that needs my main focus? How do I decide what that main thing is? I really don’t have the answer. But, I’m off to start crossing things off the list. Try to settle my thoughts, ease my mind. I promise I am not cancelling the giveaway. Please forgive me for the delay. Thank you all for your love and loyalty.