Tuesday, September 30, 2008


We went apple picking yesterday afternoon. Is there anything for fall-ish then that?! A half-bushel of Golden Delicious and Empire apples waiting to be eaten. Some will be left alone, but there are quite a few earmarked for my mom's Crumb Top Apple Pie and some Crumbly Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Apple Bars. What's your favorite way to eat apples in the fall?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

Last night I fixed a great meal for our dinner. It's great for several reasons: I usually have all the ingredients on hand, it makes 2 pans so I can stick one in the freezer and it is a pretty healthy one dish meal. I have realized that I really do tweak everything I make from a recipe and this one is no exception. So I will share it as I made it and if you want to see the original recipe you can go here. I tried to lighten it up a bit and make it a little bit easier. Of course, the original recipe is delicious, but so is my version!

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, partially drained
1 tsp oregano
1/2 - 3/4 cup half and half
1 lb rigatoni (or the mini penne called piccolini that Barilla makes)
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
12 oz chicken sausage, sliced lengthwise and then into half- moons (I buy Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic and they are great in this)
6 ounces fontina cheese (or mozzarella), 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and let cook a few more minutes.

-Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook for 7-8 minutes. Add half-and-half and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

-Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina (or mozzarella) to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly between two shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dishes.
Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

If freezing one pan, don't top with additional cheese until you are ready to bake. Will keep in freezer for 3 months. You can cook from frozen by baking for 1 and 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 hours covered with foil, then adding cheese topping and baking an additional 20 minutes.

A great one dish meal for the cool nights ahead!

adapted from Everyday Food December 2004

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Welcome home, welcome fall

We arrived home late last night after spending an enjoyable afternoon with our new America World friends. Today has been spent unpacking and resuming life here at home. Unpacking can sometimes be a daunting task, but today it's been enjoyable. I'm savoring the feeling of a place for everything and everything in its place. I'm appreciating the process of putting our home to rights so that we can start our week with a clean slate. It's made easier because I make every effort to leave our house clean when we take a trip. Coming home is much more enjoyable and settling in much smoother.

We've also made every effort to welcome fall; it seems to have arrived while we were gone this past week. A trip to the pumpkin patch was in order, as was a stop to pick out a beautiful blooming mum to keep the pumpkins company on the front steps. I also felt the need to bake something with pumpkin so we have a container full of these to snack on in the coming days. Baking these made me nostalgic as it's a recipe I made as a newlywed and we have enjoyed each fall since then.

Just the right size for Haven

And the cheesy "It's bright out here" smile

An enjoyable Sunday settling into home and savoring our favorite time of year. What could be better?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The traveling life

We are living up the traveling life this week: eating out, swimming in the hotel pool, visiting new sites, and just hanging out. Haven and I have spent our days learning about the letter "D" and making dinosaurs, dragons, dogs and reading lots of books. My bag full of fun is providing plenty of it and I've still got a few tricks stored away in there for today. We went shopping at the outlets near by and I spent a whopping $2.90. I was trying to find something to buy, evidenced by the 20 stores I went into, but just couldn't do it. I finally broke down at Baby Gap and bought Haven this hat.

I think it was worth it, don't you?

(I interrupted her apple-eating-Super-Why-watching to take this pick. She wasn't too happy about it!)

Not much else to report except that we have an almost cyclone/tropical depression bearing down on us today. Seems we can't escape the high winds no matter where we go. So tonight will be spent doing an indoor activity I think. But no worries, we've got "The Office" season premiere to keep us warm tonight! Finally!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

How Haven passed the time

Here's how Haven spent the 10.5 hours we traveled today:

Starting off the day with some hotcakes and sausage, the breakfast of preschool champions!

Car projects: princess lacing cards

Balancing a puzzle quite successfully in her lap

Catching up on some light reading

And finally some artistic expression; this is a picture of Cale

It really was a great trip and she was a champ until the last hour. I wanted to fuss and cry by then too so I understand how she felt!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This weekend I...

-savored the beautiful weather.
-enjoyed a bike ride out on the trail.
-purchased a television to replace the one blown up in "The Wind Storm" (thank you craigslist.com).
-scored some good deals at Old Navy.
-stared at the new tv to watch our current obsession, "Foyle's War."
-celebrated a sweet boy's first birthday.
-anticipated the arrival of another sweet boy.
-watched a LOT of football.
-hoped that the Steelers would win.
-cried when they lost (not really).
-cooked up some delicious BBQ Chicken Pizza, Dewey's style.
-washed all our clothes.
-packed up our life for a week.
-attempted to pack enough fun for a two-and-a-half year old and her mama while in a hotel room.
-prayed for a safe trip in our new car.
-listened and laughed with my husband.
-loved every minute of it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Help me help you

Why is it so hard to let people help us? I've been thinking about this all week as I've had various reasons for needing help. Why do I feel bad, guilty and heaven-forbid, needy when that is exactly what I am? Why do I hesitate to take some one up on an offer of help, even in the simplest things? Why do I feel like I'm imposing or burdening when I finally give in and let someone help me? Is it pride? A sign of weakness to admit I can't do it everything? I'm not sure of the answers to all these questions, but I have realized that most of my reasons for not letting people help me are selfish ones. Sometimes its just easier to make myself crazy then to let someone help. Sometimes I'm just stubborn and will make everyone around me miserable just to prove that I can do it. Yep, it's that nasty "P" word- pride.

I truly enjoy helping other people, but here comes the irony... I get frustrated when someone doesn't let me help them. I don't understand why someone won't take me up on an offer of a meal or babysitting or a ride somewhere. Why won't they let me help with some cleaning or an errand or borrowing something? I don't get it.

Or maybe I do. I guess I need to keep in mind the next time I am refused an offer of help that they might be struggling with the same things I am. It's not fun or easy to admit we can't do it all, but what a blessing it is, on both sides of the equation, when we let someone help.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oh my

It's been a week since I last posted and I can assure I have good reason. The explanation: no power, then no phone/internet and now sickness (actually they all happened at the same time, but whatever!). Cale and I have both succumbed to the nastiness that Haven had over the weekend. So while I go and tend to poor Cale (who is a tiny bit sicker then me which means I have to take care of him) I will leave you with a cuteness from my Haven.

After the big wind storm Sunday we tried to explain to her why nothing was working and why we couldn't turn lights on. A bit later as we were praying before bed she offered this simple prayer, "And God please help the trees stand up so things work."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Signs of Fall

Fall is in the air my friends! Nevermind its going to be almost 80 here this weekend; I'm believing. The signs are everywhere around our house!

-It was 48 degrees outside when I got up this morning. That's practically winter around here!

-Cale had the fun task of removing the A/C units from our bedroom windows. He then spent 15 minutes trying to jam them into the wrong box before he realized his mistake.

-We needed jackets and long sleeves for our family bike rides the last two nights. Can I tell you how much I love going for a bike ride in the evenings when its cool and the sun is setting?

-All I want to cook is soup for dinner. It's taken great self-control to stick to the menu plan and wait til next week to whip up some soup.

-Football season started last weekend! And its well documented on this site how much I enjoy the sport and the Steelers. In case you care, we started the season with a thrashing of the Texans. We will now be busy Sunday afternoons, occasionally Sunday nights, a few Mondays and the random Thursday. Love it!

-My favorite sign of fall though is footie pj's. We broke Haven's out last night and the sight of them just makes me smile!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Day of Preschool

Haven had her first day of preschool today. She is going to a program aptly named Tuesday School because it is just one day a week, on Tuesdays (and its free!). We are excited that she has the opportunity to go here this year and she was looking forward to going this morning. We had to document the big day in pictures!

Looking like a beauty in her first day of school dress. Jeans were added at the last minute because it was chilly this morning. Can't stand the cuteness!

Backpack on and ready to go! She was in such a good mood she even wanted to pose for pictures.

She's just a tiny bit excited; can you tell?!!?

Haven was happy to see me at the end of her school day and was excited to show me her papers and tell me she sang Rock-a-bye-Baby. That's about all the details I could get out of her. But she seemed to have had a good time. And I made the most of my -free- time by relaxing at Panera and enjoying a trip to Target ALONE! It was nice, but I've got eleven more Tuesday mornings to fill up before the end of the year. I'm sure I'll figure something out!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Today's his day

Cale is 28 today. We've been celebrating for the last two days and aren't ready to stop just yet. Tonight there will be another special dinner and more cake and presents. He is certainly worth celebrating so we will get as much bang for the buck as we can out of the day he was born.

I was doing a bit of reflecting earlier and remembered back to the first birthday of his that we celebrated together. It was the big 2-1 and it was a night to remember. A big dinner with friends, cake at my apartment, running into my house with my car, getting carded at the grocery store and smashing an expensive bottle of red wine on my brother's white tiled kitchen floor (and then mopping and scrubbing that floor!). (I just re-read this and it sounds like I was quite intoxicated, I can assure you that was not the case!)

It was back in the days when we were "just friends" who spent a lot of time together and thinking about that night makes me smile and be thankful for how far we've come; how much we've changed, but are still the same. He's still the goofy boy with the weird last name that makes me laugh. It's just that now I'm the girl with the weird last name, too, and I'm still laughing.

Tonight we'll be celebrating as a family of three with hope in our hearts that next year we'll be a family of four. It will be a night of celebrating who Cale is, who he was and who he has yet to become. Happy Birthday, Cale!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Finally, the weekend

It's shaping up to be a good weekend around here. Friends arrive for a short weekend visit tomorrow morning and we will hopefully have a good balance of going and relaxing. Rumor has it a trip to Ikea and the Gap Clearance Store are in our future. Sunday will find us celebrating (a day early) Cale's birthday with a fantastic meal and hopefully a delicious cake surrounded by friends.

A good weekend, indeed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


--A thoroughly cleaned kitchen
--Dinner cooking away in the crock-pot
--A soundly sleeping daughter
--Tasks crossed off the list
--Planning and preparing for company

--and then rest, a moment to myself.

Satisfaction: the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Falling" it

I am SO over summer. These hot and humid days are trying to steal my early September joy. Once September rolls around I am all about fall. I'm ready to pack away all things summer and break out the pumpkins and leaves and all manner of fall goodness. I assure you, I'm aware of the irony of putting out all my fallishness in my air conditioned home while the sun blazes 90 degrees (and humid) overhead. It's silly; and I'm okay with that. I'm pretending that its a cool, gray day and that the leaves are brilliant reds and yellows and that we're having soup for dinner. (Reality: It's HOT, sunny, the leaves are green as ever and Cale's gone so we are having whatever I can scrounge up for dinner.)

This is one of my new finds for this year and I love it. It makes our grumpy leather chair seem happy. It makes me happy.

Today's a happy day "falling" my house. Am I the only one trying to pretend that summer is over? Please tell me I'm not alone!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A new look, a new start

So what do you think of the new layout? (If you follow along in Reader you need to go check me out!) I have had the same once since I started this little blog back in February of '07 so I'd say it was high time for a change. I'm not usually a big fan of change, but there is something about this time of year that screams fresh starts and new plans and re-organizing. It's not January 1st that gets me motivated, but September 1st. I haven't gone back to school in quite a few years, so I'm not sure why this time of year still has such a pull on me. But I think it's a good thing!

A new blog design is just one of the many changes around here. I've already mentioned my new systems and we have been cleaning and decluttering all weekend. It feels good to start this new week, this new season with a clean, fresh slate. And it's a pretty one, too!