Friday, July 31, 2009

What I've Learned From Blogging

SO I thought it would be a brilliant idea to add, like, 60(??) new blogs to my google reader, why, I don't know, just thought it would be great to read all of the blogluxe winners, and then I added a few more I found by accident, simply to balance things and then I didn't touch a real book all week, and my husband complained that he never sees me anymore and actually he was right because i did stay up until 1:00 reading blogs and I still have yet to reach the end of the internet.

Anyhow, I have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge, and being the generous person that I am, I am willing to share my wealth of knowledge with you, my faithful readers. But don't share this with anyone else, cause, you know, this is privileged information, being such earth shattering stuff and all that.

10 Things I've Learned From Blogging (Just this Week)

I learned how to make a link open in another window. Go ahead, try it. Cool, huh!

I learned how to blur the background of a picture.

I learned that I need a new camera if i'm going to enter pictures in photo contests, preferably an expensive one. That way i can say smugly and with confidence in my amateur self, "oh this picture was taken with my old camera, the point and shoot."

I learned that I can use an old sheet for quilt batting.
And sew, I did.

I made a weekly dinner plan and stuck with it.

And now I'm going to tick some people off. I come to the conclusion that there is such a thing as too much modesty. My modest friends, you need to give men more credit than what you do. Men have self control and they can and do use it. Your Religious Male Leaders' insistence that women dress "modestly" is ridiculous. Perhaps it reflects upon themselves: that they're all horny toads and choose to not exercise self control?? They need to be responsible for their own d@m thoughts. [Totally my opinion, and really, what do I know???] And for pete's sake, an oversized* hat and a sleeveless shirt/pants combo is not going to be featured on the next playboy. (I'm not making this up, I swear.) Although, if you could please make men stop wearing those saggy arse pants, the world would kiss your feet.
*unless of course, you ditched the the pants/shirt and the oversized hat is somewhere else other than on your head.

And then there's the other side of the spectrum. I learned that some men shave their testicles to make their penises look bigger.

And I learned that some men bleach their scrotums. See, I'm all about balance here. [And I wouldn't recommend doing either, but then again, what do I know?]

Cats have anal glands that sometimes need to be expressed. Gives new meaning to "what an anal expression", kind of like my rant above.

And I learned that some women have heartbreaking life stories here, and here and they still find the strength to do what needs to be done. God Bless them and their families.

If you have time, please click on some of my links and share in the joy and laughs that I had this past week.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

My crockpot/roaster, thanks grandma!

So, here we are again, in the kitchen. Seriously, I'm not trying to turn this into a cooking blog, just want to share some easy tips I learned as a working mom, or a lazy mom, whatever.

I'm having Spaghetti tonight. My homemade sauce is cooking right now. Later, I may whip up a batch of my breadsticks, mmm.

Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
This should make enough for a family of 4 or 1 lb of spaghetti pasta.

So, what you need is 1 crockpot (because I love to watch someone slave in the kitchen, all the better if it's not me).

One 28 oz can of whole tomatoes.

One 6 oz can of tomato paste.

One tablespoon (give or take) of your favorite seasoning. I happen to love Penzey's Buttermilk Ranch Dressing seasoning. BTW, I don't think I've ever used the seasoning to make dressing!

Open cans, dump into crockpot, add seasoning. Set on low heat for 6-8 hours, or high heat for 4 hours.

The whole tomatoes will break down slowly as they cook, just like old fashioned sauce.

Before serving, give it a stir and adjust seasoning to taste. You may also want to add more tomato paste if sauce is too thin for your taste.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can cater it to your taste:

If I want meat sauce I'll add a 1/2 lb to 1 lb of lean ground meat to the crockpot with the other ingredients. When sauce is ready, break meat apart with a wooden spoon or spatula.

I've also used jarred spaghetti sauce and added a can of whole tomatoes with it. You may also add garlic or onions. Just use whatever you have in your pantry.

It's so nice to come home at the end of a work day to that wonderful spaghetti sauce smell, and know that I only have to make the pasta and maybe a salad and we're ready to eat!

BTW, I am a Penzey's girl. They don't know who I am, nor do they pay me to promote them. I just mention their seasoning because I love their stuff. And going to a Penzey's store is like going to heaven, for your nose anyway. Smelling all of the different spices is one of the best things known to man (and woman :-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009



I love this cookbook.

Not a brand new one,

This one,


Monday, July 27, 2009


Mmmmm, my house smells like a pizza parlor. I am in heaven. I made homemade bread sticks. I ate some. And I was intoxicated for the next hour. My dear sister-in-law called with some questions. And I babbled. It wasn't until I stepped onto my porch that I realized I also smelled like a pizza parlor. Ahhh, (sniffing again), ahhhhh....

So, here's how to make homemade bread sticks if you too want to join in the aromatic fun.


(Use your favorite method of making dough: breadmachine, standing mixer, food processor, or by hand. I use the knead and raise only setting on my bread machine.)

1 1/3 cup of warm water
1 Tablespoon of salt
2 Tablespoons Oil (optional, leave out if you want a "crustier" traditional style breadstick)
4 Cups of flour (bread, high gluton, or all purpose, whatever floats your boat)
1 Tablespoon of instant yeast (or 1 packet of yeast)

Non-stick cooking oil for greasing 2 baking sheets and spraying the tops of the breadsticks (I use canola oil in a Misto sprayer)
Your favorite Italian seasoning (I use Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle) [optional]
2 T Butter (melted)

  • Mix and knead your dough using your favorite method. Let it raise, covered for 1 hour.
  • Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat into a long flat oval shape.
  • Using a dough cutter, or pizza cutter, divide dough into 14-16 skinny pieces about 6-8 inches long or so. (Cut shortways across the oval, not longways.)
  • Place pieces on two greased cookie sheets. The pieces should not be touching.
  • Spray tops of breadsticks with non-stick cooking oil. Lightly sprinkle italian seasoning on top of sticks (being careful not to get any on baking pan, it will burn and set off your smoke alarms; i speak from experience) if desired.
  • Allow to raise for 15-30 minutes while oven heats up. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange oven racks so that one is on the bottom and one is on the top. (I have a propane oven and this works for me. With an electric oven, I would try placing the racks more in the middle first to see how much the bread sticks brown, and to prevent burnt bottoms!)
  • Bake about 15-20 minutes (rotating pans halfway through) until the breadsticks are a beautiful golden color.
  • Brush tops with melted butter.
  • Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

Thanks to Sneaky Momma Blog Design for showing me how to open links in a new page. Go check out her site for good blog design tips.

I Heart Faces Challenge

So, you know, like I don't kill enough time already online, I added all of the 2009 blogluxe winners to my google reader. It's been 24 hours since my discovery, and i'm in blogging heaven. My real life paper books are very sad. My library card? In purgatory.

I Heart Faces co-won "blog you've learned the most from", along with my hero Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Anyhow, here is my entry for "At the Beach" photo challenge.

I just love this pic of my daughter Bibi. It captures all of her personality and joy in the big "sand box". In the background is my other daughter Emmy (who can play nicely with others) and my niece.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kale! Here's What to Do With It


Previously I had never tried it and never wanted to. Adventure is not my middle name! But a few years ago, I purchased a cookbook called Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely. It rocked my culinary world! And I felt like a real cook.

Anyhow one of the recommended side dishes is kale. I finally mustarded up the courage (ha ha) to prepare some. And.... I liked it!

In my journey of sharing my recipe with you, I decided to take pictures, al la Pioneer Woman. Ahem. That woman must have 6 hands. It's hard enough to cook. But to cook and snap photos?!! And I just use a point and shoot.

So here is Leanne Ely's braised kale (with my extra additions):

Braised Kale:

Rinse, ha ha, of course.
Remove the big ribs with a knife. Here's how I do it.

Not sure if there's an easier way. My kitchen prep skills are somewhat...lacking in finesse? Especially when I am holding a camera??

When you're done, you'll have a big stack of ribs (throw in compost pile if you have one),

...and you'll have a big stack of de-ribbed kale.

Stack the leaves...

...And roll them up.

Starting at one end, slice into ribbons (the kale, not your fingers).

One of these days I'm gonna buy myself a fancy knife like Pioneer Woman...if I don't cut my fingers off taking pictures while cutting things...

Mmm, garlic.

To take the skins off I lay the flat of my blade down and give it a gentle wap with my hand.

You only need a clove or two. I guess I went a little overboard.

Press your garlic, or mash with a knife, whatever pleases you.

Now, normally I would break out the can of cannellini beans, but I'm broke. I'm scraping the bottom of my pantry so to speak.

Yep, this is how I roll. Supercharged.

And I'm out of cheese, so the powdered stuff will have to do.

Heat 1-2 T of oil in a large skillet.

You can see how carefully I'm measuring. Hey, I'm all about accuracy in the kitchen.

Add your kale and garlic.

Saute for a few minutes...

...until it's bright green.

Add a little water to the pan (enough to cover bottom, about 1/4").

Cover and simmer on low heat (something i forgot to do because i was snapping photos and my camera was sticky from garlic juice) for 5- 10 minutes until it's tender.

While kale is simmering, I check on Tommy big Wheels.

I wipe garlic juices off my shutter button.

I delete a bunch of blurry pics because it's hard to shot and stir at the same time.

I wash dishes and reflect on my delusions.

It's ready. (Yours will have less water because, I added a little too much water because, it's hard to shot pics and judge depth with one eyeball because,...but it's all good.) :- )

This is all ready to be your side dish, but if you want a meal, add a can of drained and rinsed beans toward the end of the cooking time. Heat through, and sprinkle with Romano or Asiago cheese (or a powdered cheese substitute, lol!). Add a splash or two of rice vinegar too if you like.

Or place kale on a bed of pasta (like good old Tommy here) and sprinkle with cheese. Add some sauteed summer squash, zuchinni, or fresh diced tomatoes too! Yum!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Fruits of my Labors

Sorry, it's been too long! Want a sneak peek at what's been keeping me away?

Life and love.

And gardens.

And questions like, what am I gonna do with all that kale? It's taking over the garden.

And, why isn't my cosmos blooming? (According to the internet, it's because my soil is too rich. Phooey. It's just full of sheep poop.) And why can i still smell basil? I weeded it 4 hours ago!

Flowers from my flower bed, flanked on either side with lettuce and kale from our vegatable garden.

We worked hard in our yard this past Spring building new beds and a new raised garden. It's so nice to sit back and enjoy the results.

Well, I'm enjoying the kale anyway, not sure about anyone else, lol!

About This Blog

Hmm, seems somewhat redundant. I'm a mom of 2 lovely ladies. I'm the wife of a triathlete machine. I'm a general music teacher in a public school. I like to take pictures of things, especially things i consider beautiful. I like to share. As long as it isn't food. Enjoy!

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