Monday, December 29, 2014

December Update

I know I have not posted much this month at all. Whooping Cough has kicked my butt big time. I did not really have much to post because I did not do much. I go to work and work wears me out by the time I am home, I am exhausted. I have been able to sleep in bed three nights this month all the other nights are in the recliner. It kind of stinks because January 5th my husband will begin his new hours and he will begin work when I am getting off work and he will be home by four in the morning. We will have the weekends together and plan to have at least one weekend a month where it is our quality time…no children activities.
I have read very little. I am mainly sitting in the recliner with my feet up most of the time, trying to prevent the swelling in my feet. The house well, it was a mess because for a month I did not do anything because I was unable to. I would get winded doing anything. Everyone pitched in and the house looked nice for Christmas. Now, it is easy to keep picked up because everyone is doing their share. I was only able to complete one painting and I just finished it on the 28th


I am not completely happy with the larger camel but it is what it is and Emily is in love with it so I guess that is all that matters.


My Uncle Jimmy had a celebration of life luncheon on my birthday but we did not go. Problems on my Mom’s side kept us from going because we did not want trouble there. My cousins are handling his death well, but I know it will sink in the next few months. My uncle was wrong, the house was insured so the insurance company will be repairing the home. The community is trying to get an apartment for the girls until the house is ready. They are so fortunate to have a loving community. The girls refer to their dad as their HERO because if he did not scream for help they would not have woken up in time to get out of the house. I am so proud the girls look at the positive and look at him as a hero since he was the cause of the fire as well. Thank you to all who have been praying for them.  I will try to post regularly but it will all depend on how I am feeling.

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Blessed Christmas 2014!

Christmas has come and gone and it was not our normal Christmas. I have been very sick, however, we were able to pull off Christmas this year just down sized what I typically do.  It was simple and nearly stress free. I do feel blessed. The decorations were very limited. I only had one room “Christmas Time” as Taj puts it. I did pull off a few decorations upstairs.
 
The boys (Ethan and Noah) decorated the entertainment center also with my
Christmas Village but no one took a picture of it.
I have three Party Light Christmas Globes I just love. I just wished I had three more ( I might have to look on the Internet to see if I can find them.) this way each of our children can have one. Taj just loved them this year. My boys always enjoyed them a lot when they were little, Ethan still does.
 
Todd pulled out our three tier shelf and decorated it. It was a lovely touch to the corner when people entered our home.
 
We did decorate the outdoors on the 21st but I failed to take any pictures. Next year my friends, I will.
Typically I have a second tree decorated in our small living room and this train goes around the tree.  We had to put it out for Taj to play with.  He loves the Christmas Express.
One of the decorations in the kitchen was made the weekend prior.  Todd, Taj, and I made a gingerbread train.  Noah did not want to participate that day.

Christmas Eve, Todd’s side of the family comes to our house. Our dinner consist of sandwiches, chili, oyster stew, veggies, chips and dip, and Christmas goodies. This year I added BBQ little smokies and meatballs. I also did not make any of the Christmas goodies this year. I bought Christmas Cookies and Almond Bark dipped Pretzels. Madi, Ethan’s girlfriend, did bring over some home baked Christmas Cookies. She is such a good girl. I like her a lot.
  
Todd's nephew Andrew (above)
Michelle, Todd's Sister (below)
My step-daughter Emily
Ethan and Madi took my camera and took a picture of Tilly.
Tilly is my favorite cat.  She was my first friend here in Iowa City
other than Todd.  Poor ol' girl she moves so slow and begs
for food.  She is 21 years old.

They also took a rare photo... me.
(Above)  The boy is the girl's this week's boyfriend as Michelle put it.
The girl is Todd's niece Lexi.  The boy far right is Matthew, my oldest. 
They are waiting to see what Grandma Connie (Todd's Mom)
got for Christmas from Michelle. 
(Below) Connie with her poster of One Direction. 
She thinks they are hot and loves them.  
Taj playing
 Christmas was very laid back. Matthew stayed home because he is fighting a sinus infection. Joshua and McKenzie were in Indianola for Christmas Eve and Christmas. The girls go to their Mom’s for Christmas. It was just Noah, Todd, and myself. I rested a lot.

The 26th Joshua and McKenzie came over to open their presents.
The 27th was my birthday and we went to Des Moines to celebrate Christmas with my Mom and sisters. Very laid back, just my style this year. It was nice but definitely missing my Dad. He was always the life of the party.
Above the boys playing cards and McKenzie
Below my Mom...not thrilled I am taking her picture.
Above and below are my sister Katie's girls:
Lexi, Kaylee (wearing the headband) and Miranda laying on the pillow.
Here the older girls are snuggling their baby sister while she tried to nap.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

All Things Must Pass


2014 has been a rough one for me and it looks like December is going out with a bang.  I can say, Noah is putting forth effort and is making good choices right now.  I think he has seen how the stress has physically taken a toll on my. My body is literally ill from it all. I have never been this sick.  I barely have any energy. They have diagnosed me with Whooping Cough but are now checking to see if I have heart problems too.  My feet and ankles are swelling.  My hands are retaining fluid. I have gained 12 pounds in one week from fluid retention.  Yesterday was incredibly tough.  I lost my uncle in a house fire.  The toughest part is knowing he was literally on fire and his daughters, my cousins saw this with their own eyes. They are only 18 and 17.  They tried to save him but could not. He has only one leg and gets around in a wheelchair.  They tried their hardest to carry him out but the fire was too bad, they had to leave him. He did manage to crawl some but fell short of the front door by 5 feet. Those poor girls living with this image. They have been telling everyone they are sorry, they tried. My heart is so deeply aching for them.  I know how it feels to lose your father but not like this and to feel guilty.  They lost everything, their home and their father. Their mother is not in the picture. Here is the news report if interested.  Please say prayers for my cousins.

I feel so helpless...

My oldest called crying tonight. I wish I could protect his heart.  He is such a wonderful young man and deserves someone to treat him right.  My heart hurts for him too.

I feel so helpless...

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Happy List~ Love, Cardinals, Cuteness, Tree Trimming

No matter how dark it feels, you always need light in your life and this is why I love Happy List posting...

I am so HAPPY I received my new lap top in just two days after I purchased it online.  I was not expecting it for another until December 6.  Now, I will be able to post more often again (as long as Noah is not acting up too much.) and touch base with all my favorite bloggers again.  HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!

This was my highlight on Thanksgiving, as I posted it was a horrible one but I did have two HAPPY things, one I posted that I saw a Cardinal driving home.


 
 "A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they'll appear."
Picture and saying from Facebook

I believe do believe this about cardinals, my Grandpa Rich told us grandchildren this years ago.

Next highlight on Thanksgiving was Taj's conversation with Emily.
Emily: "Who's that?"
Taj: "Noah"
Emily: "Who's that?
Taj: "Ethan"
Emily: "Who's that?
Taj: "Josh"
Emily: "Who's that?
Taj: "Uncle Matt"
Emily: "Who's that?
Taj: "Noah"
Emily: "Why is he not Uncle Noah,Uncle Ethan,and Uncle Josh?"
Taj: "Cause they are my brothers"


Todd and I have always thought this little boy since a wee little barely moving around thinks he is one of the boys.  It is so funny to hear what he said. He had everyone laughing.

Sunday we had the kids over and we decorated the main tree.  Unfortunately Emily was unable to make it, she had to work.  Sunday's have been my favorite through out the past two months. My boys come home for dinner and I have all four of them together and they play card/board games and giggle with one another as back in the time when they were little.  The month of November we had Kera and Emily (once because she works most Sunday nights) over to celebrate all the November birthdays we have for dinner as well.  Typically the girls come over on Tuesday night for dinner and to watch Sons Of Anarchy.  I love it when the house is full and I hear their laughter.  Kera is getting into the card/board games too now with the boys.  I think this is a very good thing and it makes me very HAPPY.  Here are a few photos of the kids putting the decorations on our main tree.  I will post our holiday decorations another time. 
 Kera,Taj,Noah, and Matthew's arm.
 Kera, Joshua, Ethan, and Taj's head.
All of a sudden we kept hearing: "Hey guys.  Where's Taj?"
It was a tiny voice too.
Then we heard tiny giggles...
 ...same tiny voice: "Here I am!"
 "Ethan!   Carry me upstairs please?!"  
Ethan will do just about anything to make this kid giggle more.






 I do not think I ever posted a picture of my Grandparent Wall display.  I remember posting I was going to but never did. Here it is. I am very HAPPY with it.  I let Todd pick out our pictures with him.   These are his favorites.
hmmm... maybe I need to fix the picture on the bottom. 
It is hanging crooked. ha ha ha

What do you have to be HAPPY about?


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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December Goals


It is a blog hop, so click on the Monthly Goal button and you will see those who play along post as well.
Monthly Goals

RECAP OF NOVEMBER GOALS 
  • Continue and build on work out regimen  FAILED BIG TIME-  I have been sick nearly all of November.  Working out sends me into a coughing frenzy.
  • Lose 10 pounds FAILED BIG TIME- I gained a pound.
  • Complete two books  SUCCESS  
  • "Tree of Life" Painting Class with Noah  SUCCESS- A day we both enjoyed.
  • Painting for Emily's Christmas Gift  SUCCESS
  • Painting for Joshua's Christmas Gift FAILED
  • Ethan's Senior Pictures Take Two  SUCCESS- Although the cost was a lot more than I wanted to spend and I have way too many, I am very happy with them and had a wonderful time spending with just him. He deserved to have pampering. He has had rough year as well.
  • Have A Wonderful Thanksgiving  FAILED- I had the worse Thanksgiving I have ever had this year.  I knew it would be rough being the first year without my Dad but to be honest, that did not even weigh in to the worse ever.  The fact I was so worn out from being so sick, Noah running away two nights prior, and Todd's Mom getting so mad at us because we were leaving like we always do to get back and shop.  His sister came very late so everything started very late.  It was horrible, the yelling, the crying, the stress.  The possibility she will not come to our house now for Christmas. 
  • BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING SUCCESS - Although we were late and did not get two of our items on our list, we did have success.  All of my shopping but two items are done now.  One big thing I bought myself is a new lap top.  I cannot wait.  I will be posting regularly again.
  • Decorate for Christmas In Progress - Our Main Living Room has been completed.  If I were not in bed so much during my four day weekend it would have been completed.
November slipped through my hands. I shut my eyes for one brief moment and the month was gone.

 DECEMBER GOALS
I would like to say take it easy, but during the holiday season, I cannot sit back and take it easy.  Although I was in the Christmas Spirit at the beginning of November I am not now BUT I will show Christmas Spirit no matter what. I have a little boy who comes to our house regularly and he is so into Christmas this year. I have shared with all the kids I will be baking only Christmas Cookies this year, no other candies. They all were disappointed but I told them I had no energy this year for the baking, I will do all of it again next year.

  • Bake Christmas Cookies
  • Paint Joshua's painting
  • Paint Taj's paintings
  • Paint Taj's name
  • Finish my Christmas Painting
  • Take a painting class
  • Finish my Christmas Decorating
  • Visit my family in Des Moines
  • Read one book
  • Get better
What goals do you have?

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday's Song...plus a little more.


Last week I listened to The Beatle Brunch hour and heard a song I have not listened to for years.  It is a peaceful song and Ringo sung it (he is not the best singer of the group) I still love it.  John wrote the song for Julian and let Ringo record it.  It reminded me when the boys were babies.  I would rock in my wooden rocking chair and sing this song to them every night.  
I have such beautiful memories of each of them when I listen to this song, however now my heart is breaking as well today.  I look at my youngest and cannot figure out for the life of me what went wrong.  Monday I will have to do something very difficult, well the first step.  First I have to call the court house to see how long this shoplifting class is that I have to take time off of work to take Noah too in order to avoid going to the juvenile court system.  Next I have to call Four Oaks Residential to see if our insurance will cover admitting Noah to the behavioral residential treatment.  If not then I need to see if the court will order it.  I know Noah is going to hate this but he has left me no other choices.  He ran away again.  He has called me a Bitch too often and tells me he can do whatever he wants way too many times.  Ethan fears graduating because he does not know what to do next.  He wants to go to college but he is terrified because he knows he cannot afford to go to college and live on his own.  I explained he does not have to move out he can live here and go to college it will be more affordable but he told me he cannot keep living with Noah the way he is.  It is so frustrating to him to see how he turns from his family, how selfish he is and mainly how disrespectful he is to me.  He feels Noah does not appreciate anything.  The therapist told me Saturday it is time for the residential treatment.  Noah is on a path of self destruction and is fighting all the help he is getting.  She told me Noah may kick and scream about being admitted as well.  I hate that it is so close to Christmas and know he will be locked up somewhere but Noah has made this choice.  I hurt so much for all of my children.  Each of them are being affected by Noah as well.  I just want to go back to the simple days and hold them in my arms or have them sit on my lap and sing to them.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

What happened to November?


I have not posted much this month.  I decided to skip my traditional Thankful Thursday, well because I was not sure if I could come up with four different post to be thankful for.  Yes, I am thankful for all the support everyone has given me.  I am thankful for my friends.  I am thankful I have three sons who actually appreciate their Mom and realize everything I do is for love for them and they get more than they thought they did.  I am thankful for my new job and I am thankful for my step-daughters.  I am thankful for my grandson and husband.

HOWEVER...

I have been struggling this month.  It has been hard to get to a working computer. My lap top is nearly dead and Todd has the main computer but I do not want to complain about that because in two weeks I will only see my husband on the weekends and we will have breakfast with one another because in two weeks his new hours will begin 7 pm to 3 am.  I work 10:30 am to 7 pm, so for now he can hog the computer all he wants because I am still in the room with him.

My main struggles are Noah.  What is new right?  The shoplifting really did a number on me.  I think it pushed me to the edge.  I have been sick ever since.  I am worn down emotionally and now physically as well.  Noah ran away again on Tuesday night.  We had to call the police again to aid us.  I am so sick of this fake person in Canada!  SERIOUSLY if it were not international I would be pressing charges on this person.  Noah's therapist feels I still should but told me it will be more difficult. 

Thanksgiving was horrible.  Todd's Mom was angry because she forgot we were leaving early because of Black Friday Shopping.  It was very very drama.  We are not sure if she plans to come to our house for Christmas now.  It is a mess.   I miss my Dad.  I did see a red Cardinal on Thanksgiving night when I was driving home, maybe it was my Dad checking in. to let me know he was with us. 

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.  I am sorry I am late in the game to wish you all it.  

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday's Song ~ Catch Up On My Life~ Plus Two New Recipes!


This will be so much more than my Sunday's Song post, it will be a catch up from last week as well, so let's catch up!

Many little yet big things have happened this week.   Let us begin...I absolutely love my job and where I work.  They announced they will begin a new program, a new position.  It sounds like a good opportunity, I am mixed on trying or not.  It would be a great opportunity as I said earlier and who knows if I will get it or not.  What I do love is how I am able to try with how little I have been at the company already.  I might have to go back to school and the position is a medical coder.  I have a lot of experience so I think I might have a chance at least at the apprentice position, where the company will pay for me to go back to school too.  I am so torn if I should try or not.

Noah absolutely loved the painting.  We are looking for another class which my hours will limit which one we can do as well. This time I would love to include Ethan.  If you missed my post you can read about it by clicking here but here are our paintings.
Noah's painting on top and mine is below.
Ethan celebrated his actual birthday with his girlfriend in another stated.  Today we will be celebrating with as a family with his birthday dinner.  He chose one of his favorite dishes, Taco Bake.  This will also be a challenge because Joshua's girlfriend is a vegetarian, so I will have to make up a new recipe to try to create something similar without meat.  We will see how this turns out.  *wink*

The upcoming week we will have two more birthdays within our family. Noah's will be Thursday, the 13th and Emily's is the next day the 14th.  Noah will be going to his father's next weekend while Ethan and I will be going to Des Moines to attempt take two for his Senior Pictures.

Thanksgiving plans are beginning and we actually have begun Christmas shopping.  I am so excited for Christmas this year!  I want it to be so special.  I know it will be also a rough one without my Dad this year so I have to do everything in my power to keep the spirit.  The boys will be with their father, it is his year.  Tonight at Ethan's birthday dinner the kids are going to start a new tradition.  They plan to draw names, this will save them money, okay Todd and I money.  The past few years, they have struggled and we have gone over our budget by far because we buy gifts from the kids to the kids.  This year they are going to draw a name and buy a gift for this one person and not everyone.  They seem to be excited about it. 

The weather is changing and my knees are hurting!  It is making difficult for me to work out and I kind of gave up until...we started to plan for next year's Summer Vacation.  NOW, I am super excited and have more incentive to workout and get my knees hopefully stronger.  A couple of years ago we went to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone.  We only had one day in Yellowstone, our second day was robbed from us because of Todd's car breaking down.  From that day forward we always wanted to return and said we would have to spend more than two days there because of everything Yellowstone has to offer.  We also were so disappointed about being so close to Devil's Tower and not seeing it.  This Summer we will be taking twice amount of days for our vacation, to ten days!  We plan to go to Yellowstone but a different way this time.  Four of our ten days will be driving to and back, this leave six days to enjoy. We are going to go in the West Entrance this time so we sill see the Grand Tetons.  We will exit from the North Entrance and head up to see Devil's Tower as well.  We plan to take some tours within Yellowstone this time and might even tent camp within Yellowstone.  I am so excited!  We are so excited!  I am not sure if Joshua and Ethan will be going this year.  Emily definitely will be and Matthew will as well.  Matthew was not able to go with us last time.  Kera might have plans of her own during our vacation time and Noah does not have a choice he will be going with us.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from our first visit.
If you want to see more or read about our vacation here are my links to my post:

Vacation 2013~Day One/Mt Rushmore
Vacation 2013~Day One/Crazy Horse
Vacation 2013~Day Two/The Drive to Cody, Wyoming
Vacation 2013~Day Three/The Drive To/And Yellowstone National Park
Vacation 2013~Day Three/Yellowstone National Park Old Faithful
Vacation 2013~Day Three/Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Park/ Back to Cody
Vacation 2013~Day Four/Cody, Wyoming
Vacation 2013~Day Five/The Drive to Custer, South Dakota
Vacation 2013~Day Five/Big Horn National Park
Vacation 2013~Day Six/Our Last Day Of Vacation

After my Sunday's Song you will find my two new recipes:  Zucchini Noodles with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and the second is Zucchini Lasagna. I will be making both recipes more often.  They were delicious!

This week's Sunday's Song ... I fell in love with this song recently.  I have no clue where I was when she released the song but I love it.  I love the beat.  I love the tone.  I love her voice.  I love the message.   I am very thankful for everyone in my life.  The support from you all and my family and friends.  This song is for you all.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Noodle with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Zucchini Noodles
Ingredients:
  •  Large Zucchini
  • Salt
  • Water
Directions:
  1.  If you want zucchini noodles that more closely resemble actual pasta, peel the zucchini before turning it into noodles. For something a little more colorful, though, keep the peel on. You can peel the zucchini with one of those new veggie noodle spiral cutter, julienne peeler, or with a or mandolin. I used the mandolin to cut mine.
  2. Cut slices of the zucchini off the vegetable lengthwise using a knife. The noodles should hold their form but still be fairly thin.
  3. When you approach the seeds, turn the zucchini and begin slicing another side. The seeds will prevent the noodles from holding together, so you do not want to use the part with seeds in it.
  4. If using a mandolin, use the thickest blade setting possible. Pass the zucchini over the blade lengthwise to produce long slices.
  5. Zucchini is rather moist, however, so you should drain them even if you plan to consume the noodles raw. There are many ways to remove the moisture but I chose to placing the noodles inside a colander and letting them drip dry for 15 to 20 minutes. When done, wrap the noodles in paper towels and squeeze gently to absorb as much excess moisture as possible.
  6. Fill a medium saucepan between 1/2 and 2/3 full with water. Place it on the stove and heat it over medium-high until the water reaches a rolling boil.  Add salt. After the water reaches a boil, add a generous amount of salt to the water. The zucchini will absorb the salt as it cooks, thereby becoming flavored on both the inside and outside. You can add salt before the water reaches a boil, but doing so will cause the water to take a longer amount of time to reach a steady boil.
  7. Place the zucchini noodles in the boiling water and cook until they are tender but not quite falling apart. The exact amount of cooking time will vary depending on how soft you want the zucchini noodles and how dry they are when you start. If the noodles are still fairly moist, 2 minutes should be long enough. If they are very dry, however, you will need to cook them 10 minutes for al dente noodles and 15 for soft, silky noodles. The main thing to remember is simply to keep an eye on them. If the noodles start breaking apart, you need to stop the cooking process.
  8.  Drain the water by pouring the zucchini noodles through a colander. Let stand for 5 minutes or so, just long enough for any excess water to finish dripping off each noodle.
Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Cauliflower cooked
  • 1 1//4 cup Fat Free Milk
  • 3 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp of Flour
  • 1 Tbsp of Salt
  • 1 Tbsp of Light Butter
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 1 cup of 2% Milk Italian Cheese Blend, Shredded
  • 2 Tbsp of Steak Seasoning
Directions: 
  1. Boil cauliflower (about 15 minutes) in water.  Cook until the cauliflower is tender.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the cauliflower to your blender. Puree until smooth about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the mixture is moving, stream the olive oil into the blender
  5. When puree is very smooth, transfer back to the butter/garlic skillet.  Add the milk and slowly add the flour and mix well.
  6. After the milk and flour have been mixed add the cheese to the mixture.  A little at a time.  Once the cheese has been melted add the steak seasoning.
Add the sauce over the zucchini noodles and Enjoy!

(Left overs: the sauce may dry out a bit.  Just add a little water when re-heating.)

Zucchini Lasagna
 (unfortunately no picture)
Ingredients:
  •  Large Zucchini
  • 2 eggs (slightly blended)
  • 15 oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese (divided)
  • 1 tsp of dried Basil
  • 26 oz of Pasta Sauce
  • 1/2 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 pound of sausage
  • 1/3 cup of uncooked rice
  • 1 cup of Swiss Chard (shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp of Minced Garlic
Directions:
  1. Brown beef and sausage into small pieces.
  2. While the meat is browning, cut the zucchini into long strips (thin slices)  Once you reach the seeds, turn the zucchini and begin to cut long strips until you reach the seeds once again.
  3. Drain the grease from the pan, where the meat has been browned.  Add the pasta sauce (all but 3 Tbsp, Swiss Chard, and garlic.  Simmer the mixture in the pan.
  4. While the mixture in a medium bowl, combine the cheese (1 cup of the Mozzarella cheese will not be included.), eggs, and basil.  Mix well.
  5. In a 9x13 pan, spray the pan with non-cooking olive oil spray.  Add the rice to the bottom of the pan. This will help with the extra moisture the zucchini will create.  
  6. On top of the rice add the 3 Tbsp of remaining pasta sauce.  Next you will add a layer of the zucchini noodles.
  7. On the zucchini noodles, add the cheese mixture,
  8. Next add the sauce/meat mixture.
  9. Next will just be repeat, noodles, cheese mixture, sauce/meat mixture. 
  10. The last layer of sauce/meat mixture the remaining cup of Mozzarella cheese will be added.
  11. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven 425 degrees for one hour.  
  12. Remove from the oven and leave the foil on for an additional 10 minutes prior to serving.
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