Musings From MommyLand

Because sometimes there is more to Mommy…

This Momma is Ready to Get Her Craft On!

I know I have been absent a few days (more than a few really) and I can contribute that to two things.  First, last week I felt really at a loss of ideas of what to post on here.  I was SERIOUSLY lacking inspiration and motivation.  Second, our internet was down for a few days so even if I had something I wanted to say, I couldn’t have gotten it on here anyways.  BUT, now I am back up and running and definitely have found my inspiration.  I am so excited because I feel like I have a plan for the next few weeks.  I have some new recipes to try and then share, reviews of books I have been reading, and most exciting (for me anyways) oodles of new craft projects.

When I started this blog, I don’t think that crafting was really something I thought would be a part of it.  I have always loved crafting, but wasn’t really doing too much of it.  And then I found Pinterest (Yes, I know, you are probably tired of hearing about it) and it has given me a lot of inspiration too start being crafty again.  So last week, I went through my boards (thank you smart phones) and made a list of craft projects I wanted to do over the next few weeks as well as the supplies I needed for them.  Today, armed with my list, I ventured out to Hobby Lobby to start stocking up.

For those of you who don’t have a Hobby Lobby, it is a mecca of craftiness and home decor at usually fairly reasonable prices.  Think Michael’s or Craft 2000 if you have one of those near you.  I love going to Hobby Lobby and just wandering and I wish that was what today had been, but I had the kiddos with me which always adds a sort of chaos and rushed feeling to being there.  It went mostly well except that we were in the store way too long (my fault mostly) and we lost the boy child’s Captain America Pez dispenser.  I usually try to not let him take things in the store for this very reason, but I let him today so that he could have something to occupy him while I was trying to pick out what I needed.  Somewhere between scrapbook stuff and unfinished wood, Captain America went MIA.  I went up and down these rows 4 or 5 times before I finally gave up and moved on to another part of the store to finish up my list.  He was pretty devastated.  He was on the verge of tears and kept asking to call Gaga (my mom who lives in West Virginia while we live in Colorado and couldn’t do anything to help).  By the end of my shopping, he was so pathetic and I felt terrible for him so we went back one more time and miracle of miracles we found Captain America on one of the shelves with the wooden boxes.  I honestly don’t know what would have happened if we had had to leave that store without him.  Lesson for Mommy…find a babysitter next time you want to go to Hobby Lobby for more than one thing.

Anyways, I thought that I would give you all a little teaser of some of the craft projects coming up.  Most of them are ones that get the kids involved, but some are mommy solo as well.  I hope that when you look over this list, you get excited as well and maybe even gear up to get your own craftiness on!

  1. Calm Down Jar — an alternative and/or  supplement to time out that looks super easy and I am hoping that it helps Connor let go of some of his frustration when he just can’t quite figure out what to do with it.
  2. Painted Rocks Tic Tac Toe — every kid loves to paint rocks and Connor has just discovered a love for tic tac toe so this seems like just the thing.
  3. Handmade crayons — great way to reuse the little crayon nubs that have been collecting in a bag for the last 2 years.
  4. Chore Chart  — we set up a chore system a few weeks back so that Connor could earn money to buy things on his own (sort of) and while it is effective as just some print outs I made, I got some stuff to make it a nicer looking system as well as a little more fun for him.
  5. Weekly Menu — something nicer than a piece of paper on the fridge and I little more prominent so that my husband can’t come from work and, having eaten the same thing for lunch, get upset because I didn’t tell him what was for dinner.
  6. Hideout for the Kids — we have very limited space in our house, but I think that I may have come up with the best idea on how to give them a little reading nook/hideout.
  7. Journal Jar — I think that I may be becoming obsessed with jar crafts
  8. Fairies/Little People Home — something fun for outside that will get the kids imaginations going.
  9. Melted Crayon Canvas Art — I have seen some really cool variations out there and can’t wait to try my own.
  10. Loads of St. Patrick’s Day Crafts — this is my favorite non-major holiday and I am so excited that it falls on a Saturday this year.  Some of the crafts for this include, shamrock wands, shamrock bouquet, leprechaun spirits, and St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts.

I hope that you are as excited about forthcoming crafts as I am.  I promise there will be lots of photos and step-by-step guides after I make one so that you can make your own and learn from my mistakes.

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An Unusual and Intriguing Lenten Challenge

For the past couple of days I have been seriously lacking motivation and inspiration when it came to figuring out a new blog post.  I sat down several times and just stared at the blank post with the blinking cursor that seemed to be taunting me.  Today, I was determined to figure out something and so I started my morning as I usually do hoping that inspiration would come.  I got the kids up (we spent some time admiring our new Colorado snow), got them settled down with breakfast and then sat down with my laptop to peruse the usual suspects.  Facebook, email, Pinterest…  And this is where inspiration struck!

I came across this pin that said 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  Intriguing.  I went to the blog where the pin originated and when I saw the challenge, I knew it was just what I needed for my house as well as for a blog post.  I loved the idea so much, I wanted to share it with you.

The idea is that over the 40 days of lent you do some de-cluttering around your house and get rid of 40 bags of stuff.  Lent is traditionally a time when you give up something  and while this may not fit into the traditional sense of it, it is in a way giving up things and I am quite excited about the thought of this challenge.  It doesn’t matter if it is grocery bag size or trash bag size or a combination of both.  In the case of my home, some of it will be trash to be thrown out and some will be set aside for a yard sale (and what doesn’t sell gets immediately taken to the goodwill).  Today is the second day of Lent so I am already a day behind but, I think that I can catch up pretty easily.

Ok, so here is my list.  Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own.

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Weighing In: Week One (and a half)

Well technically my week ended last Thursday, but I wanted to wait until Monday (today) to get into a first day of the week routine.  Possibly a bad call on my part considering that I know that weekends are  when I let go the most and pay the least attention to what I am eating.  Perhaps it will help keep me on track during Saturday and Sunday.

Alright so, this week I weighed…335.4 pounds.  Good Lord, it still scares me to put that out there for other people to see.  I feel a bit like that was the the ending of a book that was quite anti-climactic.  On the one hand I am happy to have lost a pound.  On the other hand, I am terribly disappointed in myself that it is only one pound.  I try to blame it on Valentine’s Day but, I know this is not the way to do it.  I have to stop blaming things and take responsibility.  Next week will be better and I will try much harder.  That is all I can promise to myself.  Until next week then.

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Worth Reading: The Dublin Saga by Edward Rutherfurd

If any of you out there have ever read Edward Rutherfurd, you may be cringing a bit at my recoomendation.  Hopefully not because of his writing (which I think is excellent), but because I think that everyone of his books is 800+ pages.  And this saga really lives up to that moniker as it is a two book series that spans 1500 years of Dublin history

The first book, “Princes of Ireland” begins in the 430 AD during the pagan summer festival of Lughnasa. It then follows several families through the coming of St. Patrick and Christianity, the arrival of the Vikings, and the eventual arrival of the British.  Among his central characters, Rutherfurd also weaves in the characters from Irish history that we all know such as St. Patrick himself, Brian Boru, Strongbow, and Henry VIII.  In this book, Rutherfurd shows how Ireland went from an island of High Kings and Druids ruling itself, to a subjugated people under British rule.  And the central theme which seems to dominate all life for almost all of this 1500 year span and indeed the real history of Ireland is Catholic vs. Protestant.

The second book, “Rebels of Ireland” picks up in 1597 at where the last book left off.

 This book makes you realize just how much of the last 500 years Ireland has spent rebelling against and being subsequently crushed by the British government.  Rutherfurd also picks up following the same several family lines from the first book and how thrive or just survive through all the turmoil taking place.  In this book, we again meet historical figures like Cromwell, Emmet, and O’Connell.  We also experience events like the introduction of the plantation system in Ulster, the Great Famine, and finally the Easter Uprising and eventual freedom for 3/4 of the country.

Ok well there is the brief synopsis of the books.  I kept them really short and rather generic A.) because I didn’t want to give any spoilers and B.) it would take me three days to write this post if I tried to give a detailed account of these monster books.  It took me about 3 weeks to power through these two books and I am a fast reader.  I know that I am using words like monster and power through, but please don’t take these to mean that I didn’t love the books because I very much did.  Trust me, you wouldn’t commit yourself to 1700+ pages if you didn’t like what you were reading.

This is the second and third book I have read by Edward Rutherfurd.  The first being “Sarum” which is a 10,000 year epic set around Stonehenge and the area surrounding it.  This, along with all of his other books including Russka (this is in my to read pile), London, The Forest (also set in England), and New York, hold to the same pattern of following several families lines over the course of hundreds of years of history.

Let me just say, I really really enjoyed these books.  I have studied history for a large part of my life and I can tell that Rutherfurd has too.  I am not an expert on early Irish history, but I do consider myself a student of Modern Irish history and was so happy to see that he didn’t stayed true to history and didn’t invent any major events or characters.  There is an upside as well as a downside to his use of history as the backbone of his novels.  The upside being that I feel so much more knowlegeable about Irish history now.  I understand more of how and why the English came to be involved in Ireland and how the various rebellions rose and fell.  The downside is that it is almost too much history.  Sometimes you are looking for more of a connection with the characters but he sometimes put that in the background to talk about what is going on at the time.

Some reviews I have read stated that they didn’t like the books because just as you connecting to a character and becoming emotionally attached, Rutherfurd jumps a hundred years forward and introduces you to new characters.  I don’t really agree with this because I found a connection with the family lines themselves rooting for or against certain families.  I actually didn’t even notice it as much in these books either as I did in his other book because as a two part series he usually only jumped a couple generations so the characters you loved may still even be alive.

My one and only complaint against this book is that the last quarter of it which encompasses history from Daniel O’Connell to the Famine and the Easter Uprising and Civil War, is far too short and ends too abruptly.  I may be biased about this because it is my particular area of interest and I was so looking forward to finally reaching this part of his history, but it just seemed rushed.

Whatever small issues I may have had with this book, I still whole heartedly reccommend it and give it 4 out of 5 stars.  It will definitely take a good investment of time, but if you love Ireland and/or history it will be well worth it.

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I LOVE Old Books!!

Old books have become sort of a passion/obsession for me (one I don’t think my husband is too excited about).  I am not racking up credit card debt or anything like that, but I do find that I spend probably a bit too much time on ebay perusing the listings while sighing and dreaming about winning the lottery so I could fill my house with old books (and new for that matter).  About a month ago, I came across a biography of 4 prominent (perhaps some would say infamous) Irishmen published in 1871 and for $10, well how could I pass that up. I decided I could add it to my small collection ( I think that I now have four 100+ year old books).  Well it finally arrived yesterday (there were some missteps on the sellers end so it took awhile) and I am thrilled!!

quite unassuming

I know I sound like a bit of a freak but there is some strange fascination old books like this hold for me.  Just think, this book is 141 years old!

It isn’t the content that attracts me so much (though I will pick up anything Irish, but that is a whole other post) as the history of the book.  I haven’t read it yet, but just thinking about its historical context and the time in which it was written is what really gets me excited.  This particular book was published in London, which in and of it itself is intriguing considering Irish/English relations at this time.  Why would an English publisher publish a book with biographies of men at least two of whom would have been at best considered Irish agitators.  Probably even all four could fall under that category (Sorry, have I mentioned that I have a Master’s degree in History and this is probably why I love this sort of thing so much).

Once I get done mulling over the time period in which the book was first published, then I start thinking over the past 140 years, who has owned this book?  Books were still a precious commodity in 1870 owned mostly by the wealthy.  How did it make its way over to the United States?  Did it spend some time in Ireland where it probably would have been more appreciated?  I got it from a man in Illinois, but how did he come to own it?  I know that I will never know the answers to these questions, but it is still fun to ponder them.

Anyways, now I own this amazing book and in a world turning increasingly to electronic books, this little piece of history will be well loved and well taken care of in our home.  And one day, I will be able to hand it down to my children and grandchildren who will hopefully be able to appreciate the fact that it will be 200 years old by then.

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Craft Time: Love Rocks

Again, I apologize for the lateness of this post.  I am however, going to still post it because A.) it is a great idea, B.) my son had a blast doing it and I think that your kids would too, and C.) I think that you can apply it to any holiday or just any random day of the week.  Painting rocks is about as simple as it gets as far as a craft goes and yet kids love it (or mine do anyways).

To start with, you need paint, paintbrushes, and rocks.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  We picked out pink and red and white paint for Valentine’s Day.  So first make sure that the rocks are clean and dry.  both of these elements are important because if there is dirt or moisture on the rock, the paint won’t stick.

Next, I let my son paint a base color on the tops of the rocks.  We did about 20 and I just laid them out on a piece of cardboard and let him go to town.  

After the base coat was dry (completely dry), I went back to them and painted hearts on the rocks.  If you child is older they can do this part too.  Let them dry and voila!  They don’t have to be perfect, just fun.

He was so proud of these rocks!

The boy child picked out a couple to give to his grandparents and one he wanted to keep for himself and the rest we used to put a smile on a stranger’s face.

No, this isn’t weird like you are thinking, and definitely not dangerous.  What it is, is the best part of the project.  Yesterday afternoon, we bundled up and took a walk.  As we were walking, he would randomly put a painted rock on the sidewalk so that someone out walking could find it and hopefully get a little smile out of it.  We walked over to the park near our house and he also left some on the basketball court there and a couple of the benches by the playground.  As he laid down the rocks, we talked about love and doing nice things for other people (random acts of kindness).  It was a great walk and I can’t believe how excited he was about the thought of people we didn’t know finding his rocks.  He couldn’t wait to tell daddy all about it when he got home from work.

The fun he had painting and leaving rocks out for strangers is why I think that this project would be marvelous all year round.  I plan on doing it for St. Patrick’s Day (with little shamrocks painted on the rocks) and any time he asks.

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You Didn’t Think I Forgot the Best Part of Valentines Day Did You?

This is one of the things I most look forward to about Valentine’s day…the desserts.  In years past (i.e. before children), I have gone all out and way over the top.  This year, I kept it a little more simple though still decadent and delicious!  Chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate mousse tartlets.

Yummy!

The chocolate covered strawberries are pretty self-explanatory so I think I will skip right over to the chocolate mousse tartlets.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 box chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup cold whole milk
  • 2 boxes of pre-baked mini tart shells or Philo dough shells (about 30 all together)
  • Strawberries or Raspberries
  1. Beat together cream, sugar, and vanilla until they begin to harden and form firm peaks.  Don’t go too far past firm or you will be heading into butter churning territory.
  2. Mix milk with the pudding until well combined.
  3. Add 1-2 large scoops of whip cream to pudding mix until it is as chocolaty or creamy as you like.
  4. Put mousse mix into a piping bag or a baggie you can cut the tip off  of and using a wide tip, pipe into the shells.  Note:  I used pre-baked Philo dough shells because I was shopping at a Super Target and that is all they had.  These were very good, but I can see how a tart/pie shell may be even better.
  5. Top with a small dollop of leftover whip cream and a quarter of a strawberry or a raspberry.
  6. ENJOY!

Tartlets

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Recipe: Valentine’s Day Dinner

First of all, Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!!  I hope that you all had a wonderful day spent with loved ones.  So obviously this post is a little late for people who were looking for a great meal idea for yesterday, but here it is nonetheless for next year or anytime you are looking for a special or romantic dinner.  Last night we had goat cheese/spinach/sun-dried tomato stuffed chicken breasts with a Gruyère risotto and “grilled” asparagus.  I added a nice salad to open the dinner and bam! romantic dinner (or as romantic as it gets with a three-year old and a one-year old joining you).  Just a quick note, this meal plan is not for the faint of heart.  While there is nothing really difficult here, it is time-consuming and does require a great deal of attention (*cough, *cough, * risotto).  But, let me say, it is well worth it in the end.

The finished product

Ingredients of Stuffed Chicken:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 large handfuls of baby spinach roughly chopped
  • 2-3 spoonfuls of sun-dried tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil

The chicken is actually a pretty easy thing to put together.

  1.  In a bowl combine the goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach.  Just use a fork to incorporate it all together.  I added the spinach a little at a time until it seemed just right.  (side note:  this is the second time I have made this chicken and the first time I used just regular sun-dried tomatoes and it was great, but this time I used a mix of roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes and it was equally delicious.  I would say use whatever sounds good or is readily available at your grocery store.

    I found this at Target

  2. Set the goat cheese mix aside and then using a sharp knife, cut the chicken breasts almost in half.  Leave them connected a little on one side.
  3. Put some of the goat cheese mixture inside of each chicken.  Not too much so that it spills out.  Use a toothpick through the top and bottom halves of the chicken to secure.
  4. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper
  5. In a pan, heat olive oil and then place chicken in pan to sear both sides.  Do this in batches our you won’t get the brown on the outside you are looking for.  After the chicken is seared, place them in a baking dish and into a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 mins or until a thermometer reads 167 degrees when inserted into the chicken

    Seared and ready to go into the oven

  6. The risotto takes about 45  mins. to cook so you can wait about 10-15 mins into the risotto cooking before you put the chicken in the oven so it is ready at the same time.
  7. When it is finished, cover with foil and let rest about 10 minutes and then serve.

Ingredients for Gruyère Risotto:

  • 3-4 Tbsp. of butter
  • 1-2 cups of Arborio or risotto Rice (this is important.  You can’t use regular rice for this)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 6-8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups of some kind of white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
  • 1-2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • *optional:  some of the sun-dried tomatoes or their oil leftover from the chicken to tie in flavors

    Risotto Rice

The Risotto is the most difficult part of this meal because it requires your undivided attention for 45 minutes straight.  Make sure your prep is done ahead of time, make sure the kids are occupied with a movie or something, and if the doorbell rings…don’t answer it!  I know it sounds scary but it really isn’t. I wish I had more pictures of this part, but sadly, photography wasn’t on my mind while I was frantically stirring.  You will just have to look at the finished product.  Sorry.
  1. Heat your chicken broth in a separate pan on the stove.  This is important! It needs to be hot when you add it to the risotto rice.  I say I would error on the side of having too much broth because if you run out before the risotto is done, you could ruin it A.) by burning it with no liquid while you try to heat up more or B.) by having it too crunchy if there is not enough liquid for the rice to absorb.  Once the broth is heated, just leave it at a low simmer on the burner.
  2. In a large pan (I like non-stick) melt 3 tbsp. of butter.  To the butter add the sun-dried tomatoes or their oil if you like.  Add the arborio rice to this and stir around to toast the rice a bit.  give it about 2-3 minutes but make sure you are stirring and watching so it doesn’t burn.
  3. When it has a little golden color too it, add the wine stir constantly while it is being absorbed.  Add some salt and pepper at this point.  Just watch how much salt you add because the cheese has a salty quality to it too.
  4. Once the wine has been absorbed add the broth one ladle at a time stirring almost constantly until it is absorbed before adding the next ladle.  This is why it is so time-consuming but, it has to be done this way.
  5. The only way you are going to be able to tell if it is done is by tasting it to see if the rice is too crunchy still.  It should be pretty soft with only a hint of bite left to it.  I wish I could tell you exactly how much broth you would use, but it all depends on how it absorbs and how you like your rice.
  6. Once it has absorbed the last of the stock and is the right consistency for you, remove the pan from the heat and then add the Gruyère cheese.  How much you add depends on how much you like cheese.  I would add it a little at a time until it suits your taste.  (I add quite a bit)
  7. After the cheese is incorporated, add 1-2 more tbsp. of butter and then you are ready to serve.

Ingredients for Asparagus:

  • 1 bunch of fresh Asparagus (can use frozen if fresh isn’t looking so good that day)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • dried minced garlic
  • dried minced onion
Ah the asparagus.  The most no fuss part of the meal.  I call it “grilled” because I don’t really know what else to call it, but it is really done in the oven.
  1. Cut off a fairly large piece of foil and place it on a baking sheet that can go in the oven.
  2. Wash and trim the ends off the asparagus and then place in the center of the foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the Asparagus.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and dried onion to taste.
  4. Toss the asparagus around lightly to make sure all of it is coated with oil and spices.
  5. Fold up the foil to make a packet with the seam on top.
  6. Cook at 350 degrees for 10-20 minutes depending on how crunchy you like your asparagus.  I put mine in the oven a little more than halfway through the risotto cooking process.

Ingredients for Pan Sauce:

  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • juices from chicken after it is done cooking in oven
  • spoonful of finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes or their oil
  • 1-2 pinches of grated Gruyère cheese
  • juice from half of a lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of butter

The pan sauce is really optional.  I like to do one because it helps tie the flavors together and adds a little moistness to the chicken if you happen to overcook it (as I tend to do because I am sort of a freak about under-cooked meat).

  1. In a pan, combine 2-3 cups of chicken stock, wine, juice left in the pan after the chicken has cooked, and either the sun-dried tomatoes or their oil.  Cook this on high for about 10 minutes until it has reduced down and thickened up a bit.
  2. Add in a pinch or two of grated Gruyère cheese.  Not too much or it won’t be saucy.
  3. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and add the butter and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Let sit just a minute or two while you plate your meal and then pour a bit over your chicken.

Delicious!

This meal was my Valentine’s day gift to my husband and I know that he really enjoyed it.  And even better, both of my kids enjoyed it too.  I hope that when you love it as much as we did.  ENJOY!

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Staying Motivated With Glass Rocks!

I think that one of the key aspects to trying to lose weight is staying motivated.  This is something that has definitely been Lacking in previous attempts at weight loss for me.  So this time around I am trying to find little things to help keep me going and hold me a bit more accountable.  This blog for instance, makes me really want to stay on track so that I don’t have to say one week that I didn’t lose any weight or worse gained some.  This past week, I came across something that I think will be another little motivating tool.  Glass jars to keep track of how much weight you want to lose  and how much you have lost.  This is a simple idea and a super simple project to complete.  While simple, I do think it will help.  So here it is: weight tracking jars (not very exciting, but I don’t know exactly what else to call them.)

What you Need:

  1.  Two glass jars —  Whatever you want or will match your decor.  They can be mismatched or the same, you can buy them or recycle from pickle jars.  I bought 2 jars at my local Hobby Lobby that matched and I thought were fun.
  2. Glass rocks or some other group of things you could use to as a counting tool (buttons, seashells, regular rocks, etc…)
  3. Scrapbooking letter stickers.  You could use paint or a permanent marker but the stickers make it so easy.

Make sure your jars are clean and that you  have removed all labels or stickers.  Little side note on the jars, if you think that the jar is too small, it probably isn’t.  I had to take my first jars back to the store because when I put my glass rocks into them they only filled about a quarter of the jar.  So I took them back and got two sizes smaller of the same jar and there was still plenty of room in them.  And I had to put 160 rocks in the first one.

Once your jars are ready, grab your letter stickers and start spelling out your words.  On the first jar, I put “Pounds to Lose” and on the second one “Pounds Lost”.  As a little thing just for me, I used the stickers to put my starting weight on the bottom of the “Pounds to Lose” jar and my goal weight on the bottom of the “Pounds Lost” jar.

Finally, count out enough glass rocks or whatever you are using for how many pounds you are looking to lose and put them in the “Pounds to Lose” jar.  Now you can transfer your rocks to help you keep track of your weight loss and to give you a physical goal to work towards.  How awesome will it be to take the last rock out of the “Pounds to Lose” jar and put it into the “Pounds Lost” jar!!

I am keeping my jars on the counter in the bathroom where I put my makeup on, do my hair, and weigh myself so they are a reminder of to keep me going.  As I lose weight I have something visual (besides my own body, hopefully) to keep me motivated.  I am pretty sure that I do not want to have to take rocks out of the “Pounds Lost ” jar and put them back in the “Pounds to Lose” jar.

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Recipe: Lasagna Soup

I have recently discovered this magical place on the web called Pinterest.  This place is amazing.  It is bringing out my craftiness and giving me some wonderful new recipe ideas.  The only downside to this seems to be…good Lord I spend too much time on the internet now!

One of the first recipes I came across was for Lasagna Soup.  Really, lasagna soup?  First of all, let me say that I love soups!  While I thoroughly enjoy summer and all the fun it brings, a part of me loves when the weather finally starts to turn cold and I can finally whip up a batch of warm soup.  Given my love for this liquidy goodness, and have tried to turn many everyday meal ideas into soup…some successfully and some not so much.  And, even as adventurous as I am about trying new soups, This one seemed like a stretch to me.  Ricotta and mozzarella are staple for lasagna and I wasn’t exactly sure how that would translate.  Let me tell you it did!  This soup was definitely a hit in our house.  My one year especially loved it.

The recipe I took inspiration from came from here, though I made some fairly large alterations for our own tastes.

*Ingredients

  • 1 lb. of hamburger
  • Italian sausage (ground or links that have been sliced)
  • 1/2 a cup of finely chopped onion
  • 6-8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 large can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb. box of some sort of curly pasta (I used Campanella)
  • 3-4 large handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Small container of ricotta cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Dried parsley flakes

*Directions

  1. Brown the hamburger until cooked.  While this is cooking add some basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.
  2. Now add the sausage and onion and let cook until onion starts to get soft and translucent.
  3. Add the broth, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes to the pot.
  4. Let all of this simmer on the stove for 30-45 minutes so the flavors can marry.  During this time you can taste it to see if it is what you like, you can always add more tomato or broth to suit your tastes.
  5. After the flavors of the soup have had some time to combine, add your pasta.  Whole box makes a heartier soup so if you like more broth then I would say start with half or 3/4 of a box.  Let the pasta cook in the broth until it is tender.  During this time keep an eye on the soup and if the pasta is soaking up all your liquids don’t be afraid to add some water or more broth.
  6. While the pasta is cooking, start on the ricotta mix that will be added individually to each bowl of soup.  For this, combine a small container of ricotta, about a half of a cup of shredded mozzarella, about a Tbsp. of parsley flakes, and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.  Set this aside
  7. When the pasta is just about done, add the spinach and let it wilt down.  This part is obviously optional.  I put spinach in my lasagna, so I put it in the soup too.
  8. Ladle soup into bowl and then add a dollop of the ricotta mix and top with a sprinkle more of mozzarella cheese.
  9. Serve with some crusty bread and ENJOY!!

TIPS:

  • I adapted this recipe to fit the tastes of my family so don’t be afraid to do the same for yours.
  • I don’t really measure anything…everything I do is to taste.  All the measurements I have here are estimates, so make sure that you taste all along the way and it is fitting what tastes good to you.
  • Don’t go overboard with the ricotta mix in your soup.  I learned the hard way that too much turns into a gooey glob that takes away from the taste of the soup.
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