What I Love Wednesday



I truly cannot believe that the school year is almost over. It feels like just yesterday that I was saying goodbye to my last group of Duckies and getting ready for my 10th year of teaching. Now, here I am at the end of the year, saying goodbye to another group of 8th graders who I’ve known since they were in 6th grade. Crazy I tell you! Some things I’m loving this week:

1. These beautiful hand-painted stones. I’m thinking they’ll be inspiration for one of the many nature walks I plan on taking this summer with my future Duckies. I love having them find things and then use them in  unexpected ways.

2. 30 Places I’d rather be sitting right now. Seriously, I’ll take any  (or all) of them.

3. I now have a mission in life: tiny tiny tiny crocheted things.

4. This is truly incredible. You’ve probably seen it already, but I still had to share.

5. We can all text “Red Cross” to 90999 to immediately donate $10 to the Red Cross for emergency relief in Oklahoma. There are dozens of other ways to help as well, including all of these and all of these. Keep in mind that two elementary schools were completely devastated, and those teachers will need to start from scratch. Consider giving to DonorsChoose.org to help them out.

6. Because I’m a Spanish teacher nerd, here’s a list of fun Spanish words to try. Current favorite: tiquismisquis (fussy or finicky)

7. John Krasinski and Jimmy Fallon did a Lip-Sync-Off. I laughed way too hard.

8. Harry Potter in 99 seconds. Yep. Still a nerd.

9. I’m kind of obsessed with the monthly sample boxes that a lot of companies have these days. My current fave is Ipsy. Every month, subscribers get a makeup bag, 3-4 full size items, 2-3 samples, and coupons, all for $10.

10. Another funny t-shirt that I just can’t justify buying… both Chicago and Spanish in one!

And, because I love you, here’s a dog and her pet ducks:

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Smoky BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

The time has come in the school year when there are a whopping three things on everyone’s minds:

  • How many days are left in the school year (11, not that I’m counting)
  • There are only ___ days left in the school year.

In relation to the 2nd thing on the list, my school building is very distinctly both air conditioned and not air conditioned. I really can deal with the temperature in the building, even in the non-air conditioned classrooms (like mine) because I get used to it. But, when I get home, the very last thing I want to do is turn on the oven to make dinner.

So, thanks to a suggestion from my oh-so-wise, and oh-so-heat-hating husband, this pasta salad was born.

smoky bbq chicken salad

The ingredients for this perfectly delicious pasta salad actually came to me as I was walking through the produce section of the grocery store. I thought about what makes a pasta salad one that I actually eat, rather than one that I pick the noodles out of. I can’t STAND celery or carrots in pasta salad. They’re too crunchy, in my opinion, for something like pasta salad. I love when there’s “surprises” that kind of get hidden in the noodles, like cheese, crunchy bits, peas, corn… And so, with the realization that I had chicken and charcoal at home, this salad was born and subsequently devoured.


As with any pasta salad, you can adjust the ingredients to your own tastes, but unless you’re vegetarian, I wouldn’t recommend it. The balance was perfect. However: it makes a TON. I’m talking my biggest Pyrex bowl, full to the top, and I’d call it at least 15 servings. So I suppose you could reduce the recipe, but again, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll want that much.

This can, of course, be made with leftover diced chicken, but since I had to cook the chicken fresh, I included those instructions as well.

Smoky BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

by What’s For Dinner?

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: grill simmer entree chicken pasta

Ingredients (12-15 servings)

  • 1 pound whole wheat noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen is good!)
  • 1/3 cup toasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup milk


First, cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Drain, and run under cool water to quickly cool the pasta, then place it in a large bowl.

Add the cheese, tomatoes, corn, crumbled bacon, and sunflower seeds.

Toss well.

(You can skip this next part if you’re using leftover BBQ chicken, or just cooked chicken tossed with BBQ sauce)

Grill the chicken breasts until nearly done, about 6 minutes per side.

Brush liberally with BBQ sauce, then grill another 2 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.

Dice the chicken and allow it to cool.

Add the cooled chicken to the pasta mixture.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour the dressing over the pasta mixture.

Toss well.

Chill for at least an hour, then serve.

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I enjoyed my hefty portion of pasta salad with a cold Samuel Smith organic Cherry Ale. I can already tell that both of these will be making regular appearances throughout the summer!

Just checked…there are still 11 days of school left.
See? Teachers count down as much (if not more!) than the kids do!
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Saturday Freebie: Funky Peony Scrubbie Crochet Pattern

One of my favorite things about springtime is the sudden and overwhelming appearance of peonies. When I was growing up, I knew the end of the school year was coming close when, out of nowhere, the two peony bushes in the back yard exploded into bloom, and we’d cut big bouquets of them for our teachers. We’d wrap wet paper towels around the bottoms of the stem, dunk the blooms in water to kill the ants that LOVED them, and then happily walk to the bus stop, flowers in hand.

The problem with peonies is that their season is REALLY short. Like, three weeks and they’re done short. So, when I saw a crochet pattern for a small ruffly brooch that looked like a peony, I immediately wanted to make one.

But rather than making a brooch (because honestly, I stick one brooch to my coat at the beginning of winter, and half of the time it doesn’t make it all the way through) I wanted to make a “full size” peony something. And so, the peony scrubbie was born.

peony scrubbie

See, the thing about crochet is that it can be very multi-functional. Need a blanket? Crochet. Need a toy? Crochet. Need a new dish scrubber? Crochet. The only thing that changes is the fiber of the yarn. For household things, such as scrubbies, pot holders, trivets, etc. it’s best to use all cotton yarn. I like the Sugar ‘n’ Cream yarn by Lily. It’s thick enough to be substantial, but still manageable and not bulky.

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For this peony scrubbie, I used the hot pink, white, and mod green, but you could use any combinations you like. The stem/leaf/loop combo is completely optional, but I think it adds a nice touch.

This pattern is extremely simple, believe it or not. It contains only single and double crochet stitches, worked in the round, and a tiny bit of sewing for the loop. I used an H-size crochet hook, or 5.0 mm. If you’re worried about difficulty, I’ve been doing a similar pattern on the ends of scarves for approximately the last 15 years, or since I was about 16. Its really easy, I promise.

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You can view the pattern below, or download the free PDF, your choice!

Peony Scrubbie Pattern PDF

This is an original pattern for a cotton peony scrubbie. Feel free to make as many as you want, and sell the final products, just be sure to credit What’s for Dinner? (Mara Rosenbloom) as the pattern creator. Happy crocheting!

Supplies needed:

* 3 balls worsted weight cotton yarn (like Sugar ‘n’ Cream brand) in the color of your choice for the main flower color, edging, and stem

* H-size (5.00 mm) crochet hook

*Yarn/tapestry needle

This pattern is worked in the round. It starts at the center and will expand outward, ruffling as you go. The more rows, the deeper the ruffles.

Stitches used: (U.S. Terms)

SC – single crochet

DC – double crochet

Hdc – half double crochet

Sl St – slip stitch

CH – Chain



Round 1: CH 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Pull the tail to close the hole

Round 2: 3 DC in each SC around (18 DC), sl st in the top of the first DC

Round 3: CH 2, 2 DC in first DC, then 3 DC in each DC around (54 DC)

Round 4: CH 2, 2 DC in first DC, then 3 DC in each DC around (162 DC)

Round 5: CH 2, 2 DC in first DC, then 3 DC in each DC around (486 DC)

Round 6: SC in each DC around (486 sc)

Finish off, weave in ends


Row 1: CH 35

Row 2: ch 1, SC in each ch (35 sc)

Row 3: ch 1, SC in 20 sc, then (1 sc, 1 hdc, 3 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc) in next stitch, sc in next 14 st.

Join two ends together with a few stitches, then sew to the center of the peony.

Fluff the “petals” and use to wash your favorite dishes, or use in the shower. This is machine washer and drier safe!

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{Photo Shoot} Taylor: Senior Photos

Way back in December, my friend Joanne asked me if I’d be able to take her stepdaughter, Taylor’s, senior photos once the weather got nicer. The winter dragged on, and on, and on, and it never seemed like the weather would get nice. Finally, Spring decided to arrive, and Joanne and I set up a time for us to do the photo shoot. We chose a day that was supposed to be beautiful, and our expectations were more than met!

I met Taylor at Deicke Park in Huntley, IL for her shoot, and I was blown away by how lush and green everything was. Taylor was a sport and put up with my odd requests, and in the end, the photos simply show off what a fun-loving and sweet girl she is.


UntitledTaylor and I joked that I should put her name really big and glowing in one of the pictures…so I had to!

I had so much fun with this shoot, and I’m loving the trend of more casual Senior Photos instead of the stuffy portraits with the laser background from when I was in school! Thank you Taylor, for the opportunity to capture your last weeks in high school.

I’d love to hear your opinions on these!


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What I Love Wednesday



Well, it’s Wednesday again…how the heck did that happen?! I’m at the “counting down the school day wake-ups” phase of the school year, even though camp preparations start a mere 36 hours after the end of school. I’m just about ready for a change of pace.

The summer may bring some changes food-wise to the little old blog here, so I hope you all (whoever you still are, all 100 of you) stick with me through it!

Now, to those things I’m loving this week:

1. LeVar Burton. Stephen Colbert. Reading Rainbow. So much win!!

2. I’d like this, in pink please. I just can’t justify the cost… anyone feel like buying me a present?

3. My mother-in-law gave us this blender a while back, and I’m really just starting to use it. I never realized how much I enjoy NOT chewing chunks of fruit in my smoothies!

4. I always kind of hope that when I turn down a new street that it will look like these tree tunnels. It’s only ever happened once…

5. 27 Cats that could be male models

6. And their pin-up model counterparts

7. My sister was in Michigan Avenue Magazine!!! (For you non-Chicagoans, Michigan Ave. is where its at for anything trendy/shopping/foodie)

8. I put a reserve on a new 3DS XL just so I can play Animal Crossing. Far too excited to farm virtual fruit.

9. I’m still looking for someone to sponsor a vacation. So, I’ve set my sights a little more local. How about this resort in Florida? I’d love to go and do a blog feature! :)

10. I’m a little behind on this one, but I’m currently obsessed with this After Ever After video.

And, because I love you, here’s a very happy little chipmunk:


This post is linked up at What I Love Wednesday (a blog I swear I didn’t know existed before today!)


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