Trying Something New

Well, in my attempt to declutter I found a small treasure. Back when Bimmer Man and I got married we received an awesome gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. I bought a Le Creuset grill pan. Little did I know that the color I bought would be discontinued. I have been searching for these green Le Creuset pans for years... and they no longer stock the Chartreuse which is really too bad so I need to find a new color to covet.

And I stopped using the grill pan because I wanted something a little bit different - one with a flat side to make pancakes and something that covered two burners.

Into the back of the cabinet it went.

Now, in attempt to use it I'm putting it into my regular assortment of pots and pans.

It's also the start of Lent tomorrow which means that we'll be eating a lot more fish and seafood and a lot more vegetarian meals (I know, God doesn't really care if we actually eat meat or not, it's really about the sacrifices and good things you do, but I digress). 

So in 41 days we shall see if I have actually used this and how much I really use it.

I may just keep it hanging because it looks pretty. 

Who knows.

Happy Mardi Gras!


Keep On De-Cluttering

I think I've reached the point where it's now getting to the hard stuff to de-clutter.

More sentimental items.

Possibly more furniture.

Or possibly not.

I'm not sure, I guess we sort of have to live a bit with the less stuff and see how things go. I think I still have too many kitchen appliances and kitchen gadgets so I'm going to need to go through my drawers AGAIN. I can think of two baking dishes that I don't use off the top of my head so those are going to go into my "Donate" box.

I tossed two more pairs of pants into the Donate box and I think I have at least two more sweaters that can go.

I'm going to have to clear out some more books. And more children's books. I want at least one empty shelf in the living room book case. Somehow, having one empty shelf makes me feel better.

I donated extra towels, which I haven't felt that pinch yet - I don't think we will anyway. We still have at least 10 towels for 3 of us, so I do laundry every other day, we should always have at least two clean towels around here.

The basement is slowly but surely getting finished. I need to go through two more boxes in our storage area, hopefully toss a few things and donate a few things to have more room. I'm thinking about getting one more storage shelf - but not until next fall when we have to bring the outdoor toys and stuff inside again. There's one storage box that is empty and HUGE that needs to go. It's been empty for YEARS except for random crap we've tossed in.


We put it outside for the last garage we had but it had no takers. So, I'm thinking it's going to be donated to Goodwill, it's a 4 post bed that's in GREAT shape but it just doesn't fit our style anymore. I'd rather have just a frame until we're ready for something new (or not) instead. It filled up our bedroom and made it seem so much smaller. Time for that to go!

Bah. Back to de-cluttering.

Happy Monday!!


YAY!!! SNOW!!! Oh, wait... RAIN!!!

I'm pretty sure I need to return my snowshoes if I want it to snow.

When I bought them back in November I was so certain that it would snow. A lot.

And it didn't.

We've had a handful of snow storms that have been accumulations of only 3-4 inches and then it's melted.


I've been super jealous of the Boston snow storms lately and it's because all I want to do is get outside in the snow.

One of my goals that I want to achieve this year is to bring Simone out snowshoeing in deep snow. I know that she can snowshoe because after a 4 inch snow we went down to the park where she RAN in her snowshoes up and down the big hill, went around the pond and in and out of snowbanks. She was really great at walking in her snow shoes but I think they also slowed her down a little (which was great for me, it meant that I didn't have to run in my snowshoes!).

Sometimes I think Mother Nature is against me.

But probably not next year. Maybe next year we'll end up with 6 feet of snow and Simone and I will have to snowshoe up to the co-op with a makeshift sled to get supplies. HA.



Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

I'm fairly certain that if Bimmer Man could only eat one soup for the rest of his life he would have a VERY hard time deciding between Zuppa Toscana and Byerly's Minnesota Wild Rice with Chicken soup. I would take Zuppa Toscana.

Simple, delicious, easy to make, and well, I'd consider it fairly healthy. But I'm also NOT a nutritionist and I'm sure a nutritionist would say LEAVE OUT THE CREAM. LEAVE OUT THE CREAM. No, oh, no, I would NEVER leave out the cream. That's what makes it so delicious. Even the Monkey eats this - though she's also been on a soup kick lately, so I've been trying to make as many soups as I can to decipher exactly what my toddler will eat (which is a feat in itself...).

Gather your delicious supplies - basically kale, potatoes, shallots, chicken stock and not pictured is the sausage - I used a bulk sausage instead of sausage in casings. If it's in casings, you can either just slice it to brown it or take it out of the casings. No big deal. Olive Garden doesn't peel their potatoes, I like my potatoes peeled, pick whatever you want. 

Brown the sausage first with the shallots and some garlic. Then add in the chicken stock, potatoes, kale, some salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 25 - 35 minutes or until potatoes are nice and soft.

I wanted to make this so I could freeze it. I put cream in each bowl to serve instead of in the soup. Cream soups that I've frozen have NEVER turned out as well after re-heating. It's like the cream curdles or it just doesn't taste quite right.

Copy Cat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

1 lb sausage - I like mild Italian sausage for this
4 Russet potatoes cut into bite size pieces
1 - 2 shallots, chopped (if you like onions, use 2)
1 - 2 bunches of kale, chopped into bite size pieces (I used 1 1/2 bunches of kale because I like kale)
2 cartons of chicken stock (I used 2 cartons of Kirkland brand from Costco)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Cream - just enough to serve, so 1 - 2 tbsp per person

Brown the sausage and drain it.

Saute the shallots with the garlic until translucent. Add back the sausage. Add in the potatoes, half the stock, then add in more stock if you want it "soupier." Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Add in the kale and simmer another 15 - 20 minutes.

Serve with 1 - 2 tbsp of cream in each bowl. 

I froze the rest of the soup in family size portions - then I just buy fresh cream when I serve this for dinner or lunch.


1,000 Posts - Time to Celebrate - Giveaway Time!!!

I hit 1,000 posts on my blog. It took me YEARS to do... unlike lots of blogs out there today... I just don't have the time to post several things daily to hit a posting number of 1,000 in a year or 6 months or whatever. I've come a long way... from Minnesota to Indiana and back again to Minnesota!

In celebration of everything I've posted (food, home decor, crochet, dog stuff, kid stuff, organizing stuff, random posts, stories about my daily life), I've decided to do a fabulous giveaway!

Now you might ask... how do you enter? 


Just comment on this post. 

I'll enter in the number of comments into the random number generator at random.org and voila! That number comment wins! I'll contact you via e-mail (whatever is connected to your Blogger ID, if you comment anonymously, well, then I can't contact you and you don't win). If you don't e-mail me back with your address within 3 days, I'll go back to the number generator and then next person will win.

The drawing will CLOSE on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5. Winner announced on the 6th. 

Open to continental US residents only.

Now, onto the prize. 

It's a cowl - cream, one of my most popular cowls this past season and since it's still cold in Minnesota and across the country, well, I think it's perfect.

Good luck!!!


Goodbye to My Rusty Monster

With a heavy heart and great sadness we had to say goodbye to our Rusty Monster last Thursday.

Last Tuesday he wasn't acting like himself, and on Wednesday night we brought him to the emergency veterinarian. When the doctor brought in his computer and showed us the x-ray we knew without a doubt what we were going to have to do. It's something that no dog owner ever wants to do. The x-ray showed a mass that was larger than the size of heart attached to his left lung and another mass attached to his right lung.

As I left (crying my eyes out) with the Monkey in tow I said the dreaded words that I never wanted to have to say.

Bring him home, Bimmer Man. Bring my dog home.

And so he did.

Thursday was a day for me and my Rusty. We hung out on the floor, on the couch. I told him how much he was loved, and I told him that for all of the years that he had been my rock and my comfort, it was now my time to be there for him.

For all that I hated vacuuming dog fur, tackling him when the mailman or the UPS guy came, dragging him out from under the porch, tripping over him while cooking, portioning out the disgusting salmon and coarse ground turkey (dripping animal blood everywhere...), getting a muzzle in my crotch, being hit in the face with a scratchy dog paw... I love him so very much. He was my best friend and all day companion.

I made him his favorite meal - bacon and eggs (which I'll probably never be able to eat again).

A wonderful veterinarian came to our house on Thursday night from Minnesota Pets. Rusty was surrounded by "his pack" and lots and lots of love.


The Art Cabinet in the Dining Room is CLEAN

I finally went through it.

It was -30 degrees outside and I had no energy for actually starting the car to get to anywhere.

So I started pulling shit out of the cabinet and trying to see if any of it was salvageable artwork from a toddler.

I took this "before" picture after I had already pulled all the shit out of the bottom shelf.

As it turns out, little scribbles that I totally thought I would remember really mean nothing.

I ended up recycling and trashing almost all of the "little scribbles" that I thought were so precious. Last January I gave The Monkey my old college art drawing book so she could have something to color in - she actually filled the whole thing up. So I'm going to label it with her name, the year 2014 and then put it in one of her storage boxes. When she's older and needs some inspiration for her own art, then she can pull that out at any time and take a look back at what she did. I also saved one painting where I really liked the colors and one foam sticker art project because she LOVED doing that. The rest went goodbye...

Not quite finished yet - I still need to clear the top and swap the larger "napkin basket" with Bimmer Man's "biking stuff basket."

Top shelf = paints, stickers, art project supplies

Middle shelf = napkins, playdough

Bottom shelf = loose paper, foam sheets, dot stampers, markers, craft supplies

Art easel with basket of coloring books and paper

Washable paints came out of a bin and into a metal basket - the old shitty paintbrushes went into the trash. Every time I rinsed them I would have to re-glue the bristles to the handle. Stickers, buttons, and other craft items went into one basket, markers into their own, dot stampers into their own. I pulled out all of the coloring books and larger paper pads and put those into a basket by The Monkey's new art easel.

I can't move the napkins because it's The Monkey's job to get everyone a napkin before each meal - it needs to be at her level. I saw an immediate response to art organization because all we did that day was art projects and she was able to get out what she wanted to make what she wanted. In fact, she really just wants to color in her Princess coloring book with her markers so I'm thinking I might buy myself coloring pencils and a coloring book from Pocket Posh.

With it being organized I'm no longer shoving used paper back into the bottom shelf, stepping on fallen art supplies or continuously getting out paper for The Monkey to color. It's awesome.


2015 New Year's Resolutions

I don't do them anymore.

Ok, well, actually I never really did them. I might have told myself "lose weight!" or "be healthy!" but I don't find those to be resolutions at all.

Wait, I'm totally wrong. I did do a New Year's Resolution last year - I told myself that even though I was/still am a stay at home mom, I wanted to be more fashionable (and then in June I decided to get rid of shit so...). That resolution of being more fashionable actually happened. However, even though I didn't buy too many clothes, I did update items that I have by purchasing QUALITY items (some used, some new, I happen to really like ThredUp for consignment clothes, and I purchased items from Madewell, Patagonia, L.L. Bean, Michael Stars, etc...).

I suppose I don't find the generalizations of "losing weight" or "being healthy" actual resolutions - instead I think being more specific actually makes you do things. Instead of "being healthy" you can make a resolution to drink 8 glasses of water per day, or perhaps go for 3 walks per week instead of 0 walks. When you make a more specific resolution, it might actually get done.

So this year I've decided to do a reading challenge.

Will I actually read 50 books? I have no idea. I'm currently on Book 3 of the Outlander series and I feel like it's taking me forever (an hour of reading each night for the past two weeks, well, maybe not every night... but I'm still not even halfway through!). I will still try! I think this list will get me out of my comfort zone for reading books, I can be picky about what I read (which I really shouldn't be picky, but since having a child I have realized that I don't like wasting my time with horrible books when I could be reading something fabulous!).

I'm planning on this Popsugar Challenge. Here's the printable version. Quite frankly, I'm too lazy to list it all out for you, so you can just click on the links instead.

Feel free to join me - I'll update every once in awhile on what I've been reading and which categories have been fulfilled. If I could read children's books for this, you best believe I'd have this shit finished in a week. Ha, the joys of having a child that loves to read!

Happy New Year!


It's The End of 2014

Thank goodness?? Maybe?? Not really sure...

This past year was pretty great - it really had its ups and downs. Bimmer Man's grandfather died, we  traveled to Colorado, we went to Indiana, we went to one of Bimmer Man's car races at Road America, we went to Bemidji State Park and walked across the Mississippi, I re-connected with old friends.

Lately I haven't been sleeping very well. Mostly I think it's the weather - we had a good 4 - 5 weeks with almost no sunshine, rain, no snow... not really the ideal weather for snow shoeing or getting outside and doing stuff.

I haven't been really inspired to make too many crochet items and I really like to crochet. It seems as if I've hit a roadblock. The last two cowls I've made have had knots in the skeins of yarn (which really sucks if you crochet because you have to cut the knot out and then re-join the yarn and weave in two more ends). I've made a few items and then frogged them (pulled them apart) because they just didn't look right. I need to look at more inspiration photos and get back to the granny square blanket that I'm making for myself. That's on my list of things to do AFTER I finish up with 3 other things. Oy, my to-make list keeps growing.

We've all had some sort of sickness. Colds, mostly. The Monkey got hit with ANOTHER cold just two weeks after the previous one and she's pretty much coughing like mad. Essential oils have helped a bit more with this cold than the last one - I'm sure I'll get it later this week.

The Monster has been, well, a MONSTER. He's learned how to open the organic waste bin with his snout. Cute? Yes. Well, no, especially not when he's pulled out sausages and gotten them stuck under the stove. Or dug holes in the backyard IN DECEMBER. Blerg.

Now it's freezing cold but at least it's sunny. I'll still be taking my extra Vitamin D.

In 2015 I'd really like to do some sort of book challenge. I'll be googling a few later this week - but first I have to get through the Outlander book series. I'm 1/3 finished with the 3rd book (Voyager), and the 2nd book I had started reading in August. It might take me a bit, we shall see.

This morning I took down the Christmas tree and all the Christmas decorations. Christmas is over, I was dreading taking down decorations since August. I normally decorate like mad, but this year I wanted to go back to being simple. I wanted to minimize everything that didn't matter with the decor and this past year I feel like I really succeeded. I downsized all of the decor to one bin plus the tree box. Everything fits, and there's more room for ornaments as The Monkey grows and makes more ornaments each year for the tree.

I also got rid of a lot of shit in our house. Our basement was gone through and I trashed and donated whatever I possibly could. You can step into the storage closet without something falling on you. I think that's awesome considering that most of America keeps an off-site storage locker with shit in it. I donated a ton of clothes - now I have empty hangers in my closet, there's no clothes falling out of drawers, I can happily choose something to wear in the morning without dreading opening a drawer to search for some random shirt that I vaguely remember having two years ago. The linen closet is pretty clean, the bathroom closet in the upstairs bathroom is generally organized (but I still need to toss some old make-up). One downside - I cleaned out my kitchen drawers and cabinets but then somehow I've acquired more kitchen stuff (Christmas cookie cutters, a few small Pyrex bowls, some more utensils, Tupperware, a flour sifter). I would also like a kitchen scale but that's not on any priority list, it's just a "like" that I want to have.

Minimalism is going to be more of a priority in my life this upcoming year - as the Monkey grows, I want to take care of less crap and spend less time doing things I don't want to do. I'd like to spend more time outdoors, less time inside, more time reading, less time cleaning, more time cooking, less time maintaining stuff. And toss some crochet time in there too and that should be my year more or less.

The basement is now on its way to being finished (there was a small electrical shock, a stabbing with a screwdriver, and falling ceiling tiles) but hopefully I'll be able to have some updated basement photos later this year. Bimmer Man is doing a great job with the help of Uncle Beardface (and I get wine time with the Dog Lady).

So... happy end of 2014... and happy 2015!!


I Went Through My Neighbor's Trash Cans

Seven generations from now, how will this world look?

Will it be dead? Will humans still live? Will atom bombs kill my children's children? Will they be eating some sort of pharmaceutical engineered crap?

Is this how the world will end?

I know this much: honey bees will probably have died; 107 more species of animals will be extinct; organic will probably not be an option thanks to big companies; big pharma will rule our health; plastic will be the death of us.

Last week I went and snooped on my neighbors. I'm totally confessing something that I really shouldn't but I was really curious. They have two (YES, TWO) trash cans (and I mean the LARGE FREAKING TRASH CANS, 90 gallons!!), and one recycle bin.

Their second bin was filled with recyclables. I could have shit a brick.

Me. I. Only me. I moved their recycling to our recycling bins.

We have two recycling bins.

I dumped their trash into my recycle bins.

Holy shit.

I admitted it.

I went through my neighbor's trash and recycled the shit that they should have.


This is the shit that I worry about.

People not doing their due diligence by recycling what they can.

I'm only one person trying to save the world.

Imagine if there were hundreds of "me" going through other people's trash and recycling what could be recycled.

So, this next year I'm going to write to Target (probably a few times!) trying to get rid of their plastic bags. And then I'm going to write to Cub Foods to get rid of plastic bags.

Plastic will be the death of us (and also cancer, probably atomic bombs, maybe missiles, I'm not quite sure which yet, we'll have to see which country hates America the most...).

However; if you're reading this and have two trash cans... get rid of a trash can and get another recycling bin. Please. Do the WORLD a favor along with your descendants and GET ONE MORE RECYCLING BIN.

I'm not going to judge you (I'm just going to go through your trash, probably toss some into my compost and into my recycling bins...).

It's time to think of the world seven generations from now, not tomorrow... but seven generations from now.