Wednesday, January 27, 2021

King of the Schoolyard

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In honor of my baby turning 20...egads, I no longer have teenagers! How did that happen? Anyway, lol...I wanted to share another story from my upcoming book, Apo's Army

King of the Schoolyard

When we were young, we all knew that being King of the Hill was the highest honor that there was on the school’s playground. Whoever was king got to walk at the front of the line wherever we went. They decided which games we played at lunch. They were the unspoken ruler of our class.

Regal was just a small kitten when he started going to school. Like most kittens, he would watch the recess competitions to see who would win. King of the Hill didn’t happen every recess. It only happened a few times during the year, so whoever won would be king for at least three months. It was a very big deal at our school.

Every time there was a challenge, Regal would be there watching. He really wanted to be king, but you had to be at least a third grader before you were allowed. Third graders never won though. It was almost always a fifth grader. Regal didn’t care though. He practiced whenever he had a chance. Unless there was a competition happening, the hill was empty. Every recess we would watch Regal running up and down it. To become king, you had to be the first cat up the hill.

Regal did this for over a year. He grew bigger and all of the practicing made him really fast. He was so fast that he was the first kitten chosen to be for any race. As soon as someone yelled go, he’d be the first kitten off of the starting line. It didn’t matter if it was a regular race or one that had hurdles. He would fly down the track and always came in first.

When he was in third grade, he knew that it would be his chance to be king. He’d trained for it. He’d worked so hard. He knew that he was ready and that he could win. He just had to wait for lunchtime. The morning seemed to go on forever. He had a hard time paying attention during math and instead was doodling pictures of him running up a big hill. Lunchtime was even harder.  He didn’t want to eat the turkey and gravy that the cafeteria was serving. He just wanted to get outside to race up that giant hill.

As soon as the bell rang to release us from the lunchroom, Regal was the first of us out the door. He ran right to the bottom of the hill and started stretching. Tons of other kittens joined him. A few of us climbed up the hill so that we could judge who made it to the top first. Then, once everyone was in place, a whistle was blown, and the kittens were off!

Some raced as fast as they could, but then slowed down about halfway up the hill. Others took off slowly and actually passed those who slowed down. But, where was Regal? At first we didn’t see him. Then, as the crowd thinned out, we saw him. He had passed those who gave up halfway up and was passing those who had taken off slowly at first. He was already almost to the top!

Then, just as we were all sure that Regal was going to win, a grey cat named Swiffer ran right past him and up to the top! Swiffer was a fifth grader and had won King of the Hill the year before. When Regal got to the top, he was disappointed to see Swiffer there, but still clapped and cheered for him. When I talked to him later, he said there would always be more races and he wasn’t going to give up.

Except Regal didn’t win any of the races that year. Swiffer won every single one of them. We all thought for sure that Regal would give up, but he never did. He kept training and he kept racing. The next year, he was right there at the front of the pack when the whistle blew.

He took his time getting up the hardest part of the hill. Once he got past that though, he took off so fast! He was a cream blur as he ran past the other kittens. As he got to the top, he almost ran right past us and back down the other side but came to a sliding stop just in time. Everyone clapped and cheered for him. He had worked hard and now was king!

In fact, he was the longest reigning king. He was king for all of fourth grade and all of fifth grade. Nobody really minded though because he was always super nice. He listened to everyone and when he had to make a decision, he always thought about what everyone wanted to do. He may be the greatest king that we ever had at our school.

Now that we’re all much older, a lot of us still live near the school. Regal is now in charge of all of us who live in the area and I like to think that he’s such a good leader because of the kind of king of the hill he was all those years ago. Sometimes we sit around and we talk about those days, but mostly Regal is always looking for ways to make our lives better now. 

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Nachos

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I love nachos. I don't think I've ever met a nacho that I didn't like. How about you?

Chicken Nachos:

2 cut up raw chicken breasts 
Large package of Velveeta , cut into slices
Can of tomatoes and chilies (Rotel)
Your favorite nacho toppings
Tortilla Chips


Put chicken in bottom of crockpot. Cover with cheese slices and pour can of tomatoes and chilies over top.

Cook on low for 6 hours, or high for 3-4. Stir thoroughly and then serve over chips with your favorite toppings!

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Nuggets

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Mmm...Chicken nuggets...

Chicken Nuggets:

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 Tablespoons butter or olive oil 
4 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon flax seed meal (optional)


Make sure the chicken is fully thawed. Cut into child-size pieces. Pieces that are about 2 inches in size will cook the best.

In a bowl, mix the melted butter or oil with the egg. Pour breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl or plate and mix in the seasonings.

Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. 

Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, and then toss in the crumbs. Put a layer of battered chicken pieces in the bottom of the crock. When the bottom is full, add a piece of aluminum foil. Poke tiny holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. The holes are important. Without them, your nuggets will come out soggy.

Cover your crockpot, but vent the lid with a wooden spoon or chopstick. Cook on high for 2-4 hours. 

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Norduck's Adventure

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As some of you may know, my oldest turned 21 this week. I cannot believe that it's possible, but here we are! To celebrate such a momentous occasion in my family, I wanted to share one of the stories from my upcoming book, Apo's Army. The plan is to bring the book to Kickstarter in March, but more on that later. Let's get to the story! 

Norduck's Adventure

    Just the other day, I went for a walk with my family. There were six of us, seven if you counted my mom. We liked to go for walks. We never knew what we might see. Quite often we would end up walking on this grassy area that was next to a huge parking lot and a school.  I liked the school area. There was always so much to see. There would be kids running around, people hanging out in the parking lot, and my secret favorite, tons of cats! The cats never paid us much attention, but I would watch them as we walked around. My family all looked the same, but every one of the cats looked different. They were so cool.

Like I said, we were all going for a walk. My mom decided to cut across the parking lot instead of staying on the grassy area. One by one, we followed her. I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were going though. I was busy watching all of the cats. There was a really cool black and white one hanging around. He kept walking up to the other cats and swatting them. I was trying to figure out why he was doing that when…

The next thing I knew, I was falling! 

I landed in some water and once my heart stopped beating a hundred miles an hour, I looked around to see what had happened. Everything was dark though. I couldn’t really see anything. I looked up and I could see light, but it was so far away and broken up by dark stripes. I didn’t see my mom or my sisters or brothers anywhere. 

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed that there were tunnels that branched off of the space that I was in. I was floating in the water but thought that I could hear my family down one of the tunnels, so off I swam. 

I swam and I swam and I swam, but the tunnel was dark and I couldn’t find my family anywhere. I tried calling for them, my quack bouncing off of the walls of the tunnel. They didn’t answer though, and I was getting scared. I decided to go back. Maybe the other tunnel would lead to them. They must have noticed by now that I wasn’t with them. My mom would be really worried. I had to figure out how to get out of here and back to them.

Paddling my tiny legs, I swam back to where I had fallen in. I noticed that there wasn’t as much light coming in, but I didn’t let that bother me. I knew that I would be back with my family before it got dark. When it was dark, we would all cuddle up together and sleep. They wouldn’t go to sleep without me, right?

I tried the other tunnel, but it didn’t go very far. When I reached the end, I turned around and went back. I cried out again for my family, but I didn’t hear them. I did hear someone talking though. It sounded like they were coming closer. I was scared so I hid in the tunnel entry. I watched the place where the light came in and scooted back even further when there was a loud noise and the grate was moved. The space was filled with light, and as I looked up, something dark leaned over the hole. I could hear it talking, but I was too scared to listen. 

Then, it disappeared, and I breathed a sigh of relief. It hadn’t seen me. Then suddenly it was back, and it was talking to me. It knew I was there! I didn’t know what to do, so I stayed hiding in the shadows. I watched as it lowered a big stick into the water with a box attached to it. What was it doing? Why was it putting a box into the water? I could still hear it talking, but it didn’t seem to be talking to me. Who was it talking to?

Then it went away again. I could still hear it talking, but it wasn’t leaning over where I was. I decided that I had better not stick around to see what it was going to do next. I swam back down the long tunnel. I kept quiet for a long time as I floated there in the dark. I’m just a small duck and I was getting so tired. It had to be close to my bedtime by now. 

I couldn’t help it. I started to cry. I just wanted my family and to go home. I was tired of swimming. I just wanted to go to sleep. I was crying so much that I didn’t notice at first that there was someone standing above the grate that I was under. They were talking excitedly but I didn’t hear them through my tears. As I cried, I drifted back into the tunnel, so I didn’t see it when the grate was removed. Then, through my tears, I heard not just one person but two people talking. 

I sniffled and started to listen. They were looking for me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I heard them mention my mom. Did they know my mom? Could they help me find her and my family? Did they say that my mom was by where I had fallen in? I wasn’t sure, but I hurried back just in case. I called out to my mom a few times, but she didn’t answer.  Instead, something swooped towards me and before I could move, I was scooped up and put down onto the grass. I was scared and sat very still. Whatever had scooped me up was on top of me and I couldn’t really move.

The two men leaned over me, talking about how great it was that they had saved me. It was great, but didn’t they know that I didn’t like being squished? Why didn’t they just take me to my mom? It was dark out and way past my bedtime. I didn’t want to get into trouble. I decided that I would just lay really still and hopefully they would let me out soon. 

I yawned, but nobody saw it. I kept hearing the one man talking, but there wasn’t anyone else there. The other man had left to go to the store. I wasn’t sure what a store was, but I hope that it meant he was bringing back my mom and some food. I was really hungry from all of that swimming. The man kept talking and talking. He seemed really excited. He said something about putting me with some other ducks. I didn’t know any other ducks, so I didn’t think that this sounded like a good idea at all. Then, I heard a boop boop boop noise and he was talking again. He told someone his name and about me! 
Then, I heard another boop noise and the man started talking to nobody again. He said something about a phone number, whatever that is. Then there was more booping, more of him talking, and then another boop. I had no idea what was going on. 

The other man came back, and he had a box thing in his hands. I had no idea what that was for and really just wished that they would let me go. Nope. They put me in the box! Can you believe it? They rescued me and then trapped me! I was really starting to wonder if they even knew my mom. I don’t think that they did. 

The next thing I knew, I was being put into an even bigger box thing and one of the men got in with me. There was a lot of discussion about being thirsty and something called tea. I guess that’s something that people drink. I just wanted to go to sleep so I did. Maybe when I woke up I wouldn’t be stuck in the box. 

Later that night, I was let out of the box and put into another one. This one was bigger though and didn’t have a lid so I could see out. There wasn’t a lot to see. The sky was a funny color, but at least I had some water and a cozy place to sleep. The man who had brought me here kept looking at me. A couple of times he took me out of the box and put me on his shoulder. I don’t know why he did that. I’m not a parrot, I’m a duck. 

Soon I got tired again and I curled up in the corner of my box. When I woke up again, I was back in the giant box. I didn’t know what to do so I just sat there. After a little while, the giant box stopped moving and the man got out. He picked me up and we went up to a big building. A lady came out the door and she looked at me. She ran her finger over my head, and it felt nice. Then she took me from the man, and we went inside the building. I don’t know where the man went, but I haven’t seen him again. I hope that he knows that I’m glad he got me out of that dark place. Maybe the lady told him.

All of this happened a while ago. I still live with that lady. It’s not just me though. There are a lot of ducks here. We like to sit around and tell our stories. We all came from different places. Sometimes a new duck comes, and they’re hurt. We all do our best to help them feel welcome. I like it here, but I still miss my family. I hope that they’re okay and all my brothers and sisters grow up to be big and strong. I wish I could tell them to make sure to watch where they’re going, but I’m sure that they know.  After all, they never fell into the scary place. I still wonder why that black and white cat was hitting the other cats. That sure wasn’t nice of him. We don’t have any cats here or I would ask them. 

Oh my gosh, guys, I forgot to tell you…those two guys who saved me? They told me that my name was Norduck. It seems like a funny sort of name to me, but I like it. When the other ducks ask me how I got the name, I tell them that once upon a time (like two weeks ago), I knew a man named Nortoh who helped me get out of a scary place. We don’t really use long names here, but I do like telling the ducks that my full name is Norduck Poinsettia. Doesn’t that sound big and important? I may be small now, but I’m going to grow up to big a big and important duck. 

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Marmalade Curry Chicken

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Here we go with week 2 of chicken! This one sounds amazingly delicious and I can't wait to get it cooking away. 

Marmalade Curry Chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs
1 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade 
1.5 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chicken broth


Put the chicken into the bottom of your slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the marmalade with the dry spices and chicken broth. You'll end up with a slimy orange gel that smells like ginger. Pour this on top of the chicken. 

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for about 4. If when fully cooked the chicken isn't quite as moist as you'd like, you can cut it into strips, then return it to the pot to soak in even more of the delicious sauce. 

Serve over brown basmati rice. 

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Monday, January 4, 2021

Crockpot Monday: Fiesta Chicken Casserole

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Welcome to 2021! The past year has been a struggle for all of us in different ways. For me, it led to me cutting back on blog posts and keeping in touch with all of you. I make no promises, but I'm trying to be back! 

Fiesta Chicken Casserole

1.5 cups raw brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup broth
1 cup prepared salsa
1 (15.25-ounce) can corn (don’t drain!)
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 to 4 chicken breast halves 
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese


Spray the inside of your stoneware. Place the rinsed rice into the bottom of your crockpot. Stir in the broth, salsa, the entire can of corn, and the drained black beans. Place the chicken breast halves on top, and then the sliced cheese. 

Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours, or on high for 4 hours. If the rice is still hard after this time, cook longer (check every 30 minutes or so).

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