Spring Brightside

This spring break was months in the making.  Just in a different way than I had planned.  How often does that happen?  I make a plan and life takes me down a different path.

I was booking our first ever family ski trip with my husband while someone halfway around the world was coming down with a fever and cough.  And now, fast-forward a few months, and I am home.

On spring break, I usually find time to drink a cup of coffee while it’s hot (a luxury to teachers everywhere).

I usually take a walk or go for a run and enjoy the quiet.

I usually bake something sweet, hang out with my kids, and play some games as a family.

I take a minute to check in on an old friend.

I spend some quiet time in my Bible, enjoy an afternoon glass of tea or wine.  We turn off the devices and play some cards.  I try a new recipe (or two).

I usually find time to plant some herbs or flowers.  I paint my own nails.  I paint my daughter’s nails.

I read a book that was pushed aside as the school year progressed.

I sit and watch my kids play.  I listen to their laugh.

I travel a path I haven’t been down before.  I see something new.  I spend time enjoying things I feel like I have to rush past in the day-to-day.

I still found time to do just that.  I think the perspective has shifted.  I am always grateful for the break.  I think I’m just realizing I shouldn’t have to break to do these things.



Sometimes certain years of one’s life require reflection.  This year has called for close examination.  I have reached a point in my life where I feel like I can no longer afford to mess around.  I can’t say I have it all figured out either.  I appreciate my friends who love me for who I am and frankly, I am no longer interested in trying to change who I am to please others.  I still would love to change in the sense of less Oreo cravings and more muscle on my shoulders type of change.  I am still eager to change by learning more and growing in my professional life.  I am still changing as I realize things that a younger me would have missed appreciating.  Realizing my sweet husband has been by my side for half of my life now.  He can look at problems, opportunities, and questions in my world with a perspective of someone who has watched me mature and loves me deeply.  Realizing I am at the point of my life in which I can look back.  I can remember happy times and I can grieve for people missing from my celebrations and future milestones.  Realizing I need to take a moment and tell those who love me I appreciate the joy they bring to my world.  Take a moment and chat on the phone (even though I am NOT fond of it) because one day the line on the other side will no longer ring.  Take a moment to smell roses, go for a run, or watch something beautiful unfold.  Realizing I need to find quiet in my life.  My word for this year has been purpose and my quest has lead me to examine things I did not even think needed considering.

Things I miss about SAHMing

Found this unpublished post.  Laughed and laughed while I rushed off to work as it is the first day of school.

Laundry all folded and dinner slow cooking in the kitchen
Happy husband and dropped off school children
Coffee, chocolate, and a morning run with no one but me

Now that everyone is back to school, the weekly routine is settling in, and life is scheduled to a tee…what’s a mom to do with her new found pocket of free time?

The peppy voice to start your day with the word of God – Courtney at Women Living Well -Good Morning Girls

Cooking Blogs I can’t stay off of:
Sally’s Baking Addiction – she knows more than just baked goods. Love her pecan crusted chicken and her snickerdoodles

Natasha’s Kitchen

I don’t want to hit the gym. I check out Megan Ewoldsen (on Facebook) or Yoga With Adriene (on youtube) and I am motivated to get up and go.

If I’m having a “mom moment”:
The Mom Edit – endless fashion fodder
Tatertots and Jello – just a nice break to kill time in the carpool line

Uh, Oh. I broke the bank.

The expenses of August can be staggering if you have kids.
Convenience meals
Spontaneous Vacation
School supplies
Fall clothes
Fall sports registration
Don’t even get me started on the obscene amounts of money I spend on my classroom that Man may or may not know the extent of.
Those are in addition to the normal monthly expenses. What’s a girl to do when she knows she’s breaking the bank?

Well, she comes up with this money saving menu, digs around in the freezer and pantry, and sees how long she can make it on:
Pre-paid activities like gym, the local museum, and the zoo
Free activities like weekly library time
Creates some at home fun with play dates
Avoids Target and Michaels like the plague (we all have that cart stuffing, money sucking, love to roam store)
Zero dining out

How long do you think we can go?
Let’s chat: What do you do to keep some change in your piggy bank?

Pimpin Joy

We have seasons of life in which we witness people going through insurmountable troubles or we have seasons of life in which our troubles seem to pour down upon us.  I love Walker Hayes song Pimpin’ Joy.  It was inspired by an incredible story, and it reminds me of a sweet fellow teacher in my school every time I hear it.  The song reminds us that each of us have a voice and a choice daily.  We can choose to be bitter, or we can choose to make a joyful noise.  I think the best line, “we’ll be pimpin’ love like it’s our duty” may just be today’s version of what would Jesus do? – WWJD.



I need an Italian to adopt me

I’m not Italian. I don’t make traditional Italian food. No little grandma to show me about marinara here, but I do love to tinker with the fare at home. Like a lot. Like when the holidays come around, and movie nights, and vacation fantasies, and pretty much every cookbook I browse at the bookstore. So, behold some of my tinkering: a mix of Rachael, Ina, Alton, and Giada’s versions (yes, at home I pretend we are all on a first name basis) – A muddled reinvention of their recipes all combined into something my husband and kids devour with delight. If you are Italian, just shake your head and grin….or feel free to adopt me and set me straight.

My favorite part of tomatoes and basil coming back in season.  My favorite salad. Drizzle with a syrup like balsamic….mmmmmmm.

Sauces are one of those times when making from scratch really pays off. They are one of the first things you learn in cooking school and well, tomato is a mother. Take that any way you want.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow or sweet onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup drink worthy red wine (on the dry side)
  • 28 oz can of high quality crushed tomatoes ( you can use peeled and crush yourself. Many say they are better quality)
  • 28 oz can of high quality tomato puree
  • 14 oz can of high quality diced tomatoes, rinsed & drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning (sometimes I use ½ dried basil & ½ dried oregano) – in the summer, chop up some fresh herbs and sprinkle in the last few minutes of cooking
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (can omit if you want)
  • ½ -1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes ( depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

To make:  Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet. Sometimes I toss in a small pad of butter for good measure (and to keep my cholesterol up). Add onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more. Add the wine and increase the heat so the mixture is boiling away. Scrape up all the brown bits in the pan and cook until almost all the liquid evaporates. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt, sugar, and peppers. Cover, and simmer on low for about twenty minutes. If you are braising the meatballs, add them in before you cover it.

I’ve made these with lean sirloin, ground turkey, and a mix of beef and pork; with spinach and without. They are delightful any way.
source:  Men’s Health via Alton Brown many years ago

  • 1 1/2 pound ground meat (I usually go for half pork/half sirloin)
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly (make sure it’s super dry) – if Man’s not home…he’s not a fan of greens
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • ¼- 1/3 cup bread crumbs (depending on chosen meat)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil (if there’s fresh in the garden, I use 2T fresh)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley (if there’s fresh in the garden, I use 2T fresh)
  • 1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons grated onion – if I have some on hand

To make:  Be gentle with the meat and mix it just until everything is well combined. If you make large meatballs for a sub, cook 20 minutes at 400 and lower the oven to 300 until cooked through. If they are medium for pasta, bake 20 minutes at 400.


Man likes me to sear them on the stove and braise them in sauce until finished. This probably takes an hour or better.

Now what to do with all this awesomeness???

    • Make some spaghetti and play old school Italian dinner by inviting the family.
    • Pull up some TV trays and watch a mob movie, or if you need G-rated Lady & The Tramp.
    • Grab some hoagies and provolone, put those meatballs on display and make subs!
    • Sauté up some Italian sweet peppers and onions, grab a bun and some good Italian sausage & make Italian dogs.
    • Freeze the leftover sauce and throw together a quick penne with peppers for meatless Monday.


Chicken Marsala Recipe
An easy but elegant chicken dish!
source: Savory Sweet Life w/ my own modifications

  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts 
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour or corn starch for gluten-free 
  • Salt & pepper and herb de Provence to season flour 
  • up to 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil + 2T butter to sauté chicken 
  • 1/4 sweet onion or shallot, minced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 8 ounces container of mushroom, sliced and cleaned (baby Bella) 
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine 
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock 
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (be generous) 
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Sprinkle 1/8-1/4 cup cheap powdered Parmesan cheese 
  • Salt & pepper to taste 
  • Garnish with chopped parsley or oregano 
  • Italian blend cheese 
  • 1 head garlic, roasted in foil w/ EVOO for an hour on 375 

To Make:

Split each chicken breast through the middle to make 2 pieces. Place plastic wrap over them and pound each one flat using a meat tenderizer/mallet until they are about a quarter inch thick. Season a good amount of salt and pepper on both sides of each piece. Place seasoned flour on a plate and and dredge each piece of chicken in it.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat and when the oil is hot fry each piece of chicken for 5 minutes on each side until they are golden brown (this may require you to do this in 2 batches).
Remove chicken from pan and arrange in a single layer in shallow ovenproof pan carefully soak up any remaining oil with paper towels and discard.. Put in low oven (275-300 degrees) to stay warm.
In same pan:
Add 2 tablespoons butter onion and garlic to skillet and saute (do not brown) for a few minutes until soft. Add mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes making sure to season them with salt and pepper lightly. Add marsala wine & chicken stock about halfway through. Use slotted spoon to lift mushrooms out of skillet and arrange on top of chicken breasts. Sprinkle with cheese and put back in oven until you finish next step.
Add cream & parmesan w/ 4 T butter allowing the liquid to boil rapidly until reduced by half. Remove chicken from oven and pour wine mixture over the chicken and serve.

Served with rosemary mashed potatoes. 4-6 russets, 1/4c cream, 1/4c butter, 1/4c whole milk. Steep with 1 sprig rosemary. When drain potatoes-add cream mixture and 1 sprig minced rosemary.

Roasted Gnocchi and Vegetables

Adapted from https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-crispy-sheet-pan-gnocchi-and-veggies-247360


Sheet pan

Parchment paper liner

Olive oil, dried Italian herbs, salt, pepper

1 shallot, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 red pepper, halved julienne sliced

1 bag fresh prepped green beans

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 pint fresh sliced Monterrey mushrooms

1 package ready made gnocchi

To make:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line sheet pan with parchment paper. Clean and prep veggies while you boil 4 quarts water in a large pan. Salt simmering water and prepare gnocchi to package directions. Drain well.

Meanwhile, add prepped veggies to the pan, toss with a generous drizzle of olive oil, the pressed garlic cloves, approximately 2 tablespoons of herbs, salt and pepper. Add cooked gnocchi to the pan. Roast for 18-20 minutes, stirring halfway.

How does your family celebrate the cuisine de Italia?