Throw it all into the crock pot and cook 4 – 6 hours on high. Serve with rice.
(I like to zap the cream cheese in the microwave for 3 minutes and mix the ingredients together beforehand so they coat the chicken more evenly… but you don’t even have to do that.)
This recipe feeds my husband and I. We almost always have leftovers. But you can double all the ingredients to feed more.
PS. Once I accidentally made this dinner with dry ranch dressing instead of Italian and you know what? It was still pretty dang good!
My recipes are super easy, but they’re not always healthy… thankfully, there’s a new blog to help with that! Wildly Better is dedicated to your well-being not just physically but mentally and spiritually. Give the link below a click and get inspired today!
Here’s a quick break-down of the main characters in the TV show that I’m writing and the actors that I think could play them. Ideally, I wouldn’t want any well-known actors because I feel that would make the show less relatable. (Just my personal preference) BUT the problem with make-believe casting them is that I only know well-known actors… so here’s as close as it would be.
(Also! Just want to note that because it’s an autobiographical show, these characters are inspired by real people. However, that doesn’t mean that they are real people. For example, MOST of my characters are made up from multiple people that I’ve met. And some of their character descriptions have been altered from real life to fiction.)
ELLE “The Protagonist”
ELLE is a sixteen-year-old human contradiction. She is a very wholesome girl who attends church weekly but has a closet obsession with Halloween and everything horror. She’s talented at public speaking, yet dreads attending large parties. Although she is a fairly pretty girl, she dresses like a mid-aged suburban mom.
It’s hard to cast yourself, but I think someone like Emily Osment would be able to do the job. I need someone who would be able to do comedy and drama interchangeably. Not only that but someone who could showcase the contrast between “wholesome Elle” and “punk Elle”.
When we did the concept art for the show, I cast a young local actress, Hailey, as Elle for the pictures. My photographer pointed out how alike we acted. She flat out said, “Hailey IS Elle”. I would absolutely cast her as me. She’s a talented actress and I feel confident that she would do an excellent job.
RONNIE “The Bad Influence”
RONNIE (17) is a reflection of ELLE’s contradictory personality. He’s a generally quiet person, but really has very little inhibitions. He knows everything there is to know about cool music and his life revolves around it. Under his black and beaten style he is actually quite tall, dark and handsome.
I think a young Diego Luna would be cool as Ronnie. I just really envision this role being played by a Hispanic actor. I don’t know why. The person who inspired this character isn’t even remotely Hispanic.
JEREMY “The Troublemaker”
JEREMY (18) a long-haired “burn-out” dressed in ripped jeans, a black hoodie and beanie. He’s the type of kid that sits in the back of the class and everyone suspects is the uni-bomber. To find another person with even half of his passion would prove impossible. He’s an avid defender of things being just and fair and would probably have the gumption to murder someone over it, if he didn’t love his mother so much.
Okay, I know that casting this person would require a time machine, even more so than the others. But I just don’t care. I want teenage Richard Dreyfus to play this role SO bad. My heart is totally set on it. Not even the real Jeremy can change my mind.
BRANDON “The Judgmental Ex”
He has thick hair and a sharp, pointy face. That fact that he is attractive in only the mildest sense does nothing to deflate his Adonic self-concept. BRANDON (17) is a very clean cut boy, and although there is no conscious reason not to like him something is very insincere about the way he smiles.
Will freaking Poulter. Oh my gosh, just look at this kid’s face. Don’t you just want him to see him be a snooty villain? Plus Poulter’s comedic timing is impeccable which is just what this over-the-top character needs.
TAYLOR “The Bridge”
TAYLOR (17) is a stunning, dark-haired girl. She is unenthused about being at rehearsal since she had auditioned for the play just a few weeks ago and didn’t make the cut. Her not being cast was probably chalked up to school politics rather than talent, because TAYLOR is very good at acting. In fact, she is very good at everything. She excels at school. She is the president of the student association. She is even very good at being naturally beautiful which is churning JEREMY’S stomach just looking at her.
I just have a feeling that someone like Emily Browning would do a good job as Taylor. And that’s really it… nothing more than just a feeling. Logically, I want to say that someone like Miranda Cosgrove would be able to pull off her personality better but I’m just stuck on Emily Browning for some reason.
TYSON “The Voice of Reason”
ELLE turns to her desk partner TYSON (17) a smart, well-dressed kid. He’s a master of dry humor and is constantly lost in his own irony. He’s the one that you can always count on for the truth even when you don’t want to hear it.
There’s a myriad of YouTube personalities that could fit well as Tyson. Shane Dawson is both sarcastic and personable enough to be able to capture this more complex character.
ADAM “The Mysterious New Student”
The door swings open and in breezes ADAM (17) a classic Hollywood-handsome boy. Every girl in class drops her jaw, including ELLE. As ADAM walks down the aisle amongst the chairs, several of the girls quickly move their purses and backpacks off of the seats next to them. He quietly picks a seat in the back of the room away from everyone.
This is the only character that I care about being “good-looking”. And that’s only because it moves some of the plot elements forward. I feel like Adam would be the hardest character to cast for hands down. It would need to be someone effortlessly talented, since Adam has to make the audience feel the entire spectrum of emotions. I’m still not sold on anyone, but maybe if I could resurrect a healthier River Phoenix. He could probably pull it off.
CASEY “The Second Act Hero”
If CASEY (16) didn’t look so humanistic you might mistake him for a puppy. Excitable, friendly and loud – very loud. Fiercely loyal, athletic, always thinking about food… CASEY is absolutely dripping with personality and leaves puddles of personality everywhere he walks.
To cast a Casey it would have to be a Casey. So I would look at actors who just radiate fun. Someone like Zach Levi or Chris Pratt (without all the fame to his name).
Also I want to cast my teenage celebrity crush, Ricky Ullman, as my husband when he appears in the series.
AM I WRONG?!??
To learn more about this creative writing project click HERE.
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I’m a pretty conservative LDS girl, so when my boyfriend wanted to take me to a water park for my 20th birthday, I spent two hours trying to find a bathing suit that I felt gave me adequate coverage. I finally settled for a tankini and a pair of swim shorts.
We went to Seven Peaks, which then was called “Raging Waters”. (Why am I old enough to have “back-in-my-day” facts?) This place had some of the most SKETCHY TRAUMATIZING NOPE LOOKIN’ DEATH SLIDES I’VE EVER SEEN. The one in question today is this one:
An engineer actually sat down and thought this up like, “You know what would be great? A roller-coaster with a double hill, but instead of safety restraints you slide face-first on a flimsy mat. Yes. I am a genius.”
So I’m obviously pretty freaked anyways standing in line for this Saw-contraption. But then I start to notice something… most of the kids DON’T MAKE IT UP THE SECOND HILL. And yes I realize they are children and yes I realize that I had just turned 20 years old. But back in the day I straight up weighed as much a child, okay. I was like a Tim Burton puppet of an actual person. Which… not anymore since having a kid and discovering that you can put coconut-flavored syrup into soda. Have you guys tried that yet!? Ohhhhh maaaaaannnn. Droooool.
What was I talking about again?
Okay so, I’m watching these kids being escorted off the middle of the slide and my fear of heights is suddenly replaced with my fear of public humiliation. No way is that going to be me! I’m not going to lose momentum and then loudly squeak as I skid back down to the bottom of the hill. Not happening!
I get to the top of the slide and look straight down into hell it goes down so far. At this point I’m thinking that I would prefer not to enjoy the stupid ride at all. But it’s one of the busiest days at the park, and I just Rip-Van-Winkle-waited in a sweltering line to get up here. Plus I can’t let my boyfriend think I’m not cool so here we go, we’re going.
I plummet down the slide like Aladdin trying to escape the cave of wonders. I start to go up onto the second hill. Good so far. And just as I’m about to crest the top I feel gravity start to tug me back down to the valley of shame. I’m like NOT TODAY SON. And I actually grab hold of both sides of the slide and physically pull myself up the last four feet.
I make it to the top and down the rest of the way into the pool where my man was waiting for me. I am so ecstatic about this accomplishment of sliding down a slide that I jump out of the water with my hands above my head cheering as loud as possible.
That’s when I see my boyfriend’s very uncomfortable face and desperate hand gestures over his chest. I just stand there staring at him, trying to decipher what this means. He mouths, “Your suit!” … I look down to see my girls completely out. 100% out there.
Turns out pulling myself up the slide had pulled down the bra part of my tankini. Mortified, I drop down into the pool to adjust my top… even though I had already cheered and waggled around in front of at least six dozen people. I got out of the pool and we hit it out of there. I didn’t even collect any of my Mardi Gras beads, we just left.
And I’ve never gone back to that place.
Want to expose yourself in a cute controlled way? My friend Kim can hook you up through Pure Romance. They have a lot of fun things you can share with your partner. And if you’re really vanilla like me there are lotions and creams and bath things too. Spice things up or cool things down, but look it up. I’ll see you next Thursday.
Warning: The details of this story may be gross to some readers… But some details are also beautiful. Either way here’s the whole darn thing.
My son is about to turn one years old and I’ve been thinking a lot about how he came into the world. This is how the day looked.
Black is my perspective, blue is my husband’s.
I woke up to contractions. I didn’t tell my husband and he left for work. BECAUSE!!! I had been having dang fake contractions the whole entire week. Every day I THOUGHT I was going into labor and then nothing ever happened. So when Saturday rolled around. I sent my husband away and tried to go back to sleep.
Normal day. I was getting for excited Val to be induced the next night. Didn’t think she had already started!
My mom called and asked if I wanted lunch, I replied casually with, “Sure, but I think I’m in labor.” My parents brought me lunch and we watched Fiddler on the Roof. I sent Dan a text letting him know.
My thought was, okay… she had “contractions” the other day. So I told her just to watch and wait. I just thought it was random contractions not actual labor.
About 5 PM
By the end of that long movie I was crumpled over and whimpering. I was trying really hard to make it until my husband was off of work but when I fell down to my knees and started bawling my father STRONGLY recommended I go to the hospital now. I called Dan at the pharmacy who by now had gotten a couple of texts about the progressing contractions.
Me: I’m going to the hospital. This is it.
Him: Are you sure?
Me: I’m going to reach through the phone and punch you.
I doubted it because of the nonchalant way we said goodbye that day! It seemed like any other day!
When a woman is in labor she’s supposed to have one contraction every five minutes that lasts one minute. My contractions lasted five minutes each.
I consider myself a very passive and non-confrontational person but labor-me was a beast not to be trifled with.
Mom: Don’t forget to breath.
Me: DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
Mom: This is so exciting!
Me: CAN YOU NOT SOUND SO CHEERFUL!
Daniel arrived and I was glad, but in too much pain to talk or move. The nurses had mercy on me and admitted me to labor and delivery. As soon as I found out I was admitted I asked for an epidural.
So I’m rushing to get there worrying that she’s super far into labor. And when I arrived it was pretty anticlimactic, everyone was sitting there in dead silence. Val’s parents look terrified/awkward. Val was basically like I WILL NEVER SPEAK TO ANYONE EVER AGAIN.
The nurse offers to administer Fentanyl, which surprises me, because it’s the strongest possible pain medication that we carry at my retail pharmacy. I personally thought it was overkill #manspective (his hashtag not mine) The nurse gives it to her, the only difference is that it made her feel better enough to be able to scream.
once I got the epidural everything was coming up Valerie. It was an entirely different experience. I LOVED MY MEDICATED BIRTH! LOVE LOVE LOVE! I intend to birth all my children on a paralyzing spinal tube. I felt freaking fantastic. I ate a couple of popsicles, I watched Home Alone 2, I even sent out a couple Snapchats:
‘Kay so, before my wife gets the epidural I’m thinking wow, this is terrifying. It’s just like those birth vlogs. She’s screaming and in pain and the nurses are in awe of how long her contractions are. I’m really scared for my wife. Epidural gets placed and then all the sudden Val and I are just chillin’! It’s like Val forgot she was in labor and is chit-chatting. It was like night and day.
It was somewhere around this time that they told me I was fully dilated and ready to push. And I was like, “Wow no kidding? That just flew by.” (Loved my epidural) I had been really nervous about this part but it wasn’t bad in the least. In fact they kept asking me if I wanted a break and I was like, nah I’m cool. It took HOURS, but I was fine because I could not feel a single thing. I guess I pulled a muscle in the process and there was some bleeding thing? But I couldn’t tell at all! I was a little nauseous every time I pushed and so my nurse offered me medication for it.
Yes. Give me all the drugs.
I was ready for the pushing to start. It had been a while. It just added to the excitement which had replaced the fear once my wife was taken care of. Now I start to think about the kid. So at one point, Val’s been pushing and the nurses are super calm. And then all the sudden a TON of blood comes out of her. At least a full pint. One nurse looks at the other and casually says, “Okay. Call the doctor.” So I’m freaking out and say out loud, “Is that normal?” I guess it was…
Pop! Jack came out and started crying. And so did Dan and I. It was surreal and beautiful. The doctor put him on my chest and he lifted his little head up at me! I think I just kept sobbing over and over again, “My son! My son!” Which is a little melodramatic in retrospect, but I mean COME ON! This is MY baby! I successfully made, grew and exited a person with my body! Isn’t that so incredible and gross?
Super healthy kid. 7 lbs 11 ounces. 20 inches long. Didn’t even look too much like a wrinkly old man! Handsome right away. Can’t believe that was a year ago!
Baby comes out. It is literally THE craziest thing you could ever imagine as you get a first glance at this human that just a minute ago had been a bump on my wife. Val starts doing her happy cry as she sees his little body. And I am just elated to see him and hear his sweet little cry. And it’s just surreal. Absolutely surreal. None of this is sinking in. (It won’t for weeks) I was overwhelmed with happiness.
Finally, when we left the hospital I wondered why they let us take this little person with us! Do they really think we’re that responsible?
Well I guess we did okay! Here’s to one year of his sweet presence in our home!
Are you celebrating something of your own soon? Gotta get a cake! And here is the best place to go: