Monthly Archives: July 2013

Goodbye July!

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This month has been off the chain.  Between meetings, rock shows, home improvements, trying to maintain my resolutions, changes at work, and a long weekend vacation…I’m beat.  So maybe this won’t be a big fat post.  Maybe it will be mostly pictures.  I talk a lot, so we shall see.

I am happy to report I’ve maintained my resolutions for July!  On the way back from one of his shows:

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D and I were talking about concerts.  Pearl Jam is my absolute favorite and it’s been my dream to see them live.  Its been on my bucket list for years, not knowing if it would ever come to pass since they tour infrequently.  BUT we had found out that day that they are coming to Charlotte soon and we bought our tickets as soon as they went up.  That led us to talk about Aerosmith, one of his favorites, and about their concert he went to as a freshman in high school.  He got this awesome concert shirt and he was explaining what it looked like and how bummed he was because it’s been gone for years and he has no idea what ever happened to it.  And that was it.  I figured out how old D was back then, what year the concert had to have been in, what the tour name was, and started digging online for concert shirts from the “Nothing Can Stop this Rock” tour.  I found the olive colored shirt, with the tour dates on the back, the eagle smoking a cigarette on the front surrounded by the Air Force-esque emblem for the Aero Force One fan club.  An awesome vintage shop in the United Kingdom shipped it to me for D’s “just because” surprise.  He was really happy and that put a smile on my face.  There’s my something nice for July.

I also made a trip back to Nashville, this time with D and no snowmageddon.  We had a great weekend!  Here’s what we did, most of which I had never done before so there’s part two of my resolutions fulfilled.  Here we go!

We drove down Thursday so we could go for a morning tour of Noble Springs Goat Farm Friday morning!

We saw lots of chickens!

Never touched a gullet before, but there’s a first time for everything I guess.  Weird.

Spent some time with the boy goats first.  They love the ladies!

That fella loves ladies so much he tried to eat my hair!

Here are three of my best friends with the ladies of Noble Springs!

There’s just a whole lot of lovin’ and bitin’ going on in this picture.  HA!

She was posing all sweet, I love her 🙂

This is Charlie the Barn Cat and he loved all the attention!

On the way back home from the farm we passed this barn.  I totally whined until we turned the car back around.  Who knew such beautiful things were tucked away in the hills of Franklin, Tennessee?  It took my breath away, too bad this photograph does its beauty no justice!

We stopped by The Loveless Cafe for a late lunch before heading back to prepare for the evening’s festivities.

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We went out on the town for a night of fun at THE Bluebird Cafe.  Keep your hand down if you didn’t know about this place until the show, Nashville, made it’s debut.  Legendary performers step foot on that tiny stage every day.

Don Schlitz giving me chills singing some of my old school favorites.  Who would have known?!    Everyone should experience this place.


Then we went into the heart of downtown Nashville to see the neons of Broadway on a fun Friday night.

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Having fun out on the town…

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Belly laughin’ with our friends!

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Then we made new friends!

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Then I had a pepper spray malfunction and Jessica and I suffered the consequences.  Oops.  I can tell you this, I never wanna get pepper sprayed on purpose!  But no worries, we survived!

After brunch Saturday morning, Jess and I shopped while the boys caught some live music on Broadway.  We met up for an awesome dinner at Chuy’s.  So cool!

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Then D photobombed my picture.  And I gave him a typical, “cut that out” face.

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The boys had a proposition for us and explained at dinner that they wanted to go back downtown and buy some new boots since they were on sale.  How often do your menfolk ask you to go shoe shopping?  They twisted my arm, and to the boot store we went!  Here we are afterwards, pleased with our purchases!

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If you’ve never been to Nashville, Tennessee you should consider it.  It’s a great town!  Hope you all have a great week!

Almost doesn’t count.

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As a wife, you try new things all the time to keep your husband convinced he put a ring on the right girl, to show your mother that she taught you well, and to ensure your in-laws know you can take care of their boy.  And notice I said try, which means that shit does not work out all the time.  Almost does not count, and we all know it.  Or at least it feels that way.  When you put time and effort into a failed endeavor, you question your ability to be “wifely.”  Most days I think I’m doing alright, and other days its glaringly obvious I’m wrecking the joint.  The last thing a girl wants is to have all her wifely flaws pointed out.  Because we sure wish almost counted for something.   Thankfully, I’ve got a husband that would basically eat anything, a mom that never gets all up in my business unless requested, and a family-in-law that must think I’m doing alright since they’ve left D with me for almost 9 years now.  But not everyone is so lucky.  

Maybe you can’t make rice.  Maybe you don’t know how to use the weed eater.  Maybe you don’t keep house quite as nice as Marie Barone.  Maybe you thought you’d flex that green thumb of yours and you unknowingly planted all your bulbs upside down: rejoicing when they sprouted through the soil only to recant when someone told you that you were growing roots, not blooms.  Or maybe you got excited about a new recipe but had to make nine trips to the store for the ingredients you kept forgetting.  Maybe you’ve been the mom that could not soothe her crying baby come hell or high water…but 10 seconds in the arms of someone else was all your child needed to calm down.  Dangit.

You do not have it all together.  But don’t get discouraged…because we’re all just figuring it out.  All us new girls are just bumping along the way with frizzy hair, smeared make-up, and still in our pajamas because we haven’t managed to put on real clothes yet today.  Who cares?!  We’ve all had failures.  And those of us who haven’t…are liars.

When I moved into my first apartment, I really tried to cook.  I knew I could make my mom’s lasagna without issue.  I was boiling, and simmering, and mixing, and sauteing like a beast.  Then I realized I was missing a key ingredient.  I sent my roomie to the store and when she returned…I was back in the game.  I had already completed one layer of the dish so I added the missing ingredient and layered my concoction into a lasagna.  I put it in the oven to bake, threw the dish towel over my shoulder with the air of success, turned around to put dirty dishes in the sink and there it sat.  A colander full of drained noodles that never made it into the lasagna.  All that nonsense for a three noodle meat slop!?  I was embarrassed.  Our boyfriends were coming over and I ruined dinner without dinner even starting.  D still talks about my three noodle lasagna as if it’s an actual thing.  BUT I’m here to tell you that there is forward movement after failure, they make oven-ready noodles now, AND I have perfected my mom’s lasagna and dare I say…improved upon it.

You can do this.  Maybe not on the first try.  And maybe not looking like Giada De Laurentiis.  But you can do it your own way and that’s what counts.  So chin up, lady.  And if all else fails, just remember this lasagna doesn’t even need all the ingredients to be good! 🙂

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Please forgive the sad presentation.  This was frozen and thawed before the photo was taken!

My Mama’s Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 small diced onion

28 oz. diced tomatoes (with juices)

12 oz. tomato paste

16 oz. lasagna noodles

2 eggs

8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

16 oz. cottage cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cracked black pepper

Directions:

Brown beef, minced garlic and onion together until cooked.  Drain grease.  Added diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper, garlic powder and heat to a boil.  Let simmer for 30 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.  Mix eggs and cottage cheese together in a separate bowl.  Layer noodles, egg mixture, mozzarella cheese, and sauce until your dish is full.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Have a great day yall!

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See, it’s better already!

I totally made that!

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So I last posted about my not-so-good-very-bad weekend and how somehow it miraculously turned itself around.  And I explained my troubles with finding the right artwork for the master bedroom and that I ain’t no artist.  But I AM self-aware enough to know I’m not going to buy some generic art from some store and slap it on my walls with any sort of satisfaction.  It just won’t do.  Maybe that’s snooty but I do not care.  I’m also aware of how hypocritical it is of me to pass any judgment on store-bought art seeing as how I can’t do any better.  I make no apologies, I like what I like and that’s no sin.  Rude?  Maybe.  A sin?  No.  But I’m a firm believer in not impulsively buying things because they “match” or because they will fill empty sad spaces.  It’s gotta be the right stuff.  Because if it isn’t, they might make you think you’re happy, yeaaaaaaaaaaaah, maybe for a minute or two. Everclear…anybody?  No? Oh, alright…

Anyway, you can’t just buy stuff to fill a void in a room.  You might think you’re satisfied for the time being but eventually it will creep up.  That feeling of dissatisfaction with a piece that wasn’t meant to be in that space.  This is how you end up with so much crap to donate to Goodwill, people!  I like photographs mostly, but sometimes its nice to have artwork and our house really had none, until now.  Now I have this:

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I’ve had The Big Ass Book of Crafts for a very long time, thanks to Jess.  And there’s a tutorial on scrape painting that I really liked.  All you have to do is cut pieces of cardboard to be used as your “brushes” and drag paint all over a canvas.  So easy!  And the best part is…the messier the better!  The more imperfections you create, the more interesting it looks in the end.  Another bonus, I only had to buy the canvas to complete this project 🙂 and it was 50% off at the craft store.  I searched the internet for a quatrefoil pattern I liked, resized and printed it.  I traced it onto a piece of cardboard and used that as a “template” to trace and cut all the shapes I needed out of carefully selected contrasting scrapbook papers (with the help of my boes) from my endless stock.  Too bad I didn’t have a shape I loved with my Cricut machine; that was very tedious! 

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Originally, I wanted wooden letters for my quote.  I made many trips to craft stores that left me empty-handed before I realized I would have to try something else.  I ordered wooden letters online, and even painted them white before I realized how unsure I was of them for this project.  Oh well!  Just forget you ever saw them placed so carefully in the picture above.  I do love all the quatrefoil shapes’ colors and patterns though, eeeeeeeee!

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So there I have started painting.  I chose two blues, a white, and a green.  And I scraped paint all crazy to fill the canvas.  I love how some of the colors bled together.  Since I knew I wanted the primary color of the canvas to be a smoky gray and layering of paint would be involved, I knew I could use crackle paint too.  After the colored paint dried I used a sponge and painted random areas of the canvas with crackle paint, very haphazardly so it wouldn’t look uniform.  I let the crackle paint dry COMPLETELY before applying my gray paint.

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To finish up the painting, I used my sponge to paint the exposed edges gray.  When that was complete I used a black ink pad and rubbed the edges and corners of my canvas with it.  I wanted the surface of the canvas to have as much interest and depth as possible.  It’s very subtle, but I see it! Here’s a close of up of the detail:

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I also rubbed the edges of each quatrefoil shape in black ink, so they wouldn’t look so freshly cut.  I laid my shapes out and when I had a pattern I liked, I started gluing with Tacky Glue.  I ended up hating the wooden letters when I placed them on my canvas.  The sizes were cut all wonky and it made me cringe.  Am I crazy?  Why were the sizes all different?  Are they different?  Is it going to look like I was drunk when I glued these down?  Will people realize that I can glue things in a straight line or will they think this was a craft fail?

The torture.  Basically, I wanted the text to be very simple and not fussy.  I chose stark white paper and used my Cricut to cut letters in a very plain font and glued them to the bottom right.  That was the look I wanted, sans the 3D effect that would have been nice.  But ugly letters are ugly letters, in every dimension.  That quote is from our first dance at our wedding, and it makes me really happy to see it in our room, and D said it makes him smile.  So this is a big fat craft win!  Housewife win!

Happy Friday yous guys!

It ain’t broke, but we gotta fix it.

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I had all these high hopes of blawgin’ up a storm this weekend with new recipes, tons of craft ideas and home decor ventures.  Then my husband tried to snap his foot off and all my plans went to shit.

Lucas is an old college buddy and our Captain America.  He and his family sacrifice so we can all sleep a little safer at night (thank heavens for brave people like him).  Lucas and his sweet little family have traveled quite a distance as they have relocated many miles from their Kansas home.  They made a pit stop in their hometown to visit friends and family.  Whenever he does this, all the boys drop EVERYTHING to spend time.  I was hanging out on Saturday evening with my friend Kristen when I got a phone call from D.  He said, “Change of plans, I might have broken my ankle.”  That’s what 29 year old boys get for playing frisbee!   He stepped in a hole, cranked his ankle and waved the white flag of surrender.  When he got home I marveled at the fattest cankle I’ve ever seen, went to purchase wraps and an ice pack and started in with my best Nurse Ratched antics.  Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate and Pray, people!  I wasn’t convinced anything was broken but ya never know.  A night’s rest made some improvement but definitely not enough to skip a doctor’s visit.  And D was actually requesting the trip.  It ain’t broke but we gotta fix it!  We have no clue what to do at a doctor’s office!  We basically have to be dying to go to the doctor!  Shame, I know.  After 3 hours, Xrays, crutches, pain pills, and this magic ankle brace (it better be for the price), we came home home with news of no broken ankle but a sprain bad enough someone would rather have a break (according to the PA).  Ironic huh?  Let’s see what kind of patient D makes in the coming days.  That’ll determine the kind of nurse he gets. 🙂

I’ve been incredibly productive in spite of everything.  This weekend I have been to meetings, been to a rock show, dusted the furniture, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms.  I’ve killed two monstrous spiders, took out the trash and recycling, unloaded the dishwasher, made a home cooked meal, been to the doctor, scrapbooked, and revamped the master bedroom (finally).  I’m basically kicking ass and taking names.  As I mentioned before, I’ve been collecting all the right accessories to bring some new bedding into the rotation.  That’s right, I said rotation.  A girl’s gotta have options!  And much like D’s ankle, my bedroom decor wasn’t broke, but I fixed it.  Here’s my rotation:

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And now:

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Blue, Green and Gray!

And a dog that always likes to be on the bed, thank goodness she matches.  I purchased that bedding from JC Penny forever ago and I had been dying to bring it out.  But it was really all I had, and you gotta sauce it up a little.

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Ampersand from Marshall’s, Threshold frame from Target

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Scrolled frame from Marshall’s, Larger frame from the As-Is Section of Ikea (nothing wrong with it!)

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Frame from Marshall’s half the price of the exact frame I saw in Pier 1!

I only needed a couple of new things, most everything else stayed the same in our little room.  Now, accessories are one thing, but artwork is another.  I’ve had the same print above the bed for years and it has always worked beautifully but I needed to go a different direction.  I’m not really big on store-bought generic art because it’s impersonal and uninspiring for me so it really posed a problem.  And I’m not exactly an artist.  But nobody told me I couldn’t pretend to be one!  So this is what I ended up with…

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Intrigued?

I’ll post a how-to later on, for now I think I’ve rambled enough.  I hope you all have a great week!

Craftactular.

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I’ve been doing tons of projects here the last couple of weeks, and I’ve got a couple things to share.  I’ve been trying to consolidate and get the guest bedroom/craft landing pad cleaned up because that room is about to completely transform.  And I’ve also found the more stressful things become, the more I throw myself into whatever creative thing I can find.  At work, everything is always so scientific and methodical, sometimes its nice to turn my music up and sling paint.  Hear me now:  I’m officially on a craft binge!

DSC_1440First off,  I’ve been collecting glass bottles for a few months now so I could make treat jars for muh frands.  I bought two handfuls of decorative knobs from Hobby Lobby. Always 50% off.  Score!  This project was super inexpensive.  Essentially, it really only comes to about $3 each since I was going to trash those jars otherwise and I already had enough spray paint to be considered obsessive.  I used a hammer and nail to start a guide hole for my knob in the center of each lid.  I did this first, so I wouldn’t mess up the paint job trying to punch holes later. I sprayed and sealed each lid, then added my knob and that was it.  It’s a perfect little prize to give to whoever I want, for whatever reason or for no reason at all.  They turned out pretty great!  Now all I need to figure out is what to fill them with and who so deserves my love and affection :).

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DSC_1326I also delivered another “Creative Pay it Forward” gift.  This is the only gift that I haven’t “made” so far.  I was feeling a little guilty about it, especially since she is crafty too.  I snapped out of it though because I really put a lot of thought into it.  Laura is the recipient I know the very least, so I had to do research to discover things she loved.  And by research I am referring to Facebook stalking, of course.  I found out that she loves Pinterest, gourmet foods, crafts of all kinds, and bacon.  Bacon was a recurring theme so I decided I needed to find something awesome related to that.  I researched online and I came across a 50 Shades themed, bacon devoted cookbook.  Every female that has read 50 Shades seems to have loved it and clearly Laura loves bacon so it seemed like a win-win.  When it came it the mail I was super pumped.  It was hilariously suggestive, and the recipes looked like crowd pleasers.  I wrapped it up all pretty and delivered it by way of a mutual friend. 

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She loves it!

I purchased new bedding for the master eons ago, but I haven’t had the right accessories to pull everything together.  I’m getting there, so there are new art projects on tap in the coming weeks.  I’ve also made tons of progress procuring all the right things for the guest bedroom redo too, can’t wait to show it to you!  TONS of DIY fabulosity coming your way…and a trip to Nashville is in the works.  Waaaahooo!

Hello, July. I’ve been waiting for you.

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I hope you all have had a great weekend.  Mine has been hectic, but not in my regular busy way.  I want to take a whole different direction for just a moment: separate from the crafty, recipe-filled norm.   My family lost a very dear woman early Friday morning.  My great-grandmother, Marjorie, was 92 years old and was as sweet as sugar.  Luckily, she was in the hospital where I spend half my days.  Tireless care was given to her by my friends/nurses that work on our sister unit and I am so thankful.  At various points in my shifts last week I would steal away to check on her.  Before the end of my shift early Thursday morning I made one last visit to her before I went home to sleep.  A nurse I knew had cared for her all night, and she told me Grandma Margie had been largely unresponsive and had some significant changes in her condition, changes that I knew were impending but still upsetting.  Her course was very clear to me, given the incidents that led to her hospitalization and my nursing background.  But still, that stung to hear.  I deliver that news to people every day.  And while I cherish my patients and their families, and I know how difficult death and dying can be even when you’re braced for the hard days ahead, it’s SO easy to forget just how that information feels to receive.  It’s a blow to the chest.  And my heart ached for her when I entered her room and witnessed the changes myself.  I took a seat, not wanting to disturb her sleep.  I felt like crying, and I felt the lump in my throat signaling that an all out breakdown could overcome me if I allowed it.  She wasn’t moving much, but she was moving just enough for me to feel like talking to her was the best thing for me to do.  Even if she didn’t respond, I knew she would hear me.  So I got up, held her little hand in mine and told her who I was.  She didn’t open her eyes, but her eyelids were twitching and moving so much at the sound of my voice.  I know she recognized me.  While that sign was a good one…I didn’t expect much more.  I told her I loved her, and oddly enough she broke a nearly 12 hour silence to say, “I love you too.”  My heart skipped a beat.  Stuff like that feels really spiritual to me, and those four words were let me know she was ready and willing.  Just like any wonderful grandmother would, she gave me exactly what I needed, she was looking out for me even in the end.  Those were the last words we spoke to each other before she passed.  Grandma Margie was beautiful and kind, and always made it a point to tell you she loved you (we should take a page from her book).  Today, we will lay her to rest and I’m so at peace, and she gave me that.  I wish that for the rest of my family in the days ahead.

On a happier note, I feel like I should report to you that I completed my “something new” resolution for June.  My frand Katie and I went on a pottery painting adventure.  We visited this cool place near her house called The Art Studio.  They had so many different options for our projects.  Katie decided on a plate display for an empty wall in her house and I chose a cookie jar, since mine was dropped by someone else last year.  Pfffttt.

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Here we go!

Katie used ikat patterns to inspire her work and I attempted to draw from those vibrant asymmetrical Aztec patterns.  The first stroke was definitely the hardest but we prevailed out of necessity.  At first it was fun and we were really excited.  Then we hit a low point of frustration…about 4 hours in with no end in sight.  None of the people we started the day with were still there.  It takes forever because in order to get bright, solid colors you have to paint every stroke THREE TIMES!  So basically if you ask me and before you judge us for our slow progress, I painted three cookie jars and Katie painted 12 plates.  If you ask me.

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Drawing and redrawing and erasing. Like a boss.

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Is that a tear?

All I have to say is this craft takes a lot of skill, precision, patience, and Mountain Dew.  Nine hours later we finished our masterpieces.  Thank heavens, since the place was closing in minutes!  Even now, it’s hard to imagine how things will look: the paint is chalky and pale in color before firing, and pencil markings have to burn off in the kiln.  We are incredibly hopeful though, I don’t think we can stomach the thought of 9 hours with nothing we want to show for it.  We get to pick them up in a week’s time. Stay tuned for an update.

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Fingers crossed!

We tried all kinds of things this day, including a new recipe.  I pinned this Chicken in Basil Cream recipe just days before, and Katie and her husband were down to try it out.  Success!  It was delicious.  I’ve added it here with a couple of alterations I think might be necessary.

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Here are the prospective ingredients. All but the eggs. Housewife Win-we realized the recipe didn’t call for eggs before incorporating them!

Chicken in Basil Cream

1/4 cup Milk

1 cup Dry bread crumbs

1 pound Boneless skinless chicken breast; 4 halves

3 tablespoon Butter

1/2 cup Chicken broth

1 cup Heavy cream

1 can (4 oz)Pimento; sliced with juices

1/4 cup Basil; fresh, minced

1/2 cup Parmesan; shredded

1/8 teaspoon Pepper

Directions:

Heat skillet over medium high heat. Place milk and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in milk, and then coat with crumbs. Add chicken to skillet with 1/2 of the butter about 5 min. Add remaining butter flip chicken and cook another 5 min till chicken is cooked. Remove and keep warm. Add broth to skillet bring to boil over medium heat to remove fond. Stir in cream, and pimento; boil and stir for 1 min. Reduce heat, add parmesan cheese, basil and pepper; cook and stir until heated through. Serve chicken with sauce poured over.

Hope you all have a great week and have fun celebrating the 4th with your friends and families.  Be careful out there, party people!