Sausage Spinach

My boys are picky eaters – it drives me insane!  I swear they take polar sides on foods just to make life more difficult… one likes their vegetables slightly crispy – the other wants them almost soggy.  One will eat fried eggs & not scrambled – the other has to have scrambled & not fried.  So I have been extremely happy that we have a recipe they both love – and ask for regularly – and it’s healthy – and easy to prepare!

img_0299In April 2001, while still living in New Mexico, my friend shared a recipe from Ladies Home
Journal – the page title was ONE POT WONDER – Capellini with Sausage and Spinach by Cynthia DePersio.  I have changed the original recipe a bit over the years & my family has shortened the name to Sausage Spinach – but it’s still delish!  I don’t really use the recipe anymore – but you can see how well loved it’s been.

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 lbs mild Italian Sausage (I use bulk sausage to save having to cut it up)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves pressed garlic
32 oz chicken broth
8 oz thin spaghetti
20 oz bag of spinach
1/3 C heavy or whipping cream
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/2 C mozerella cheese

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Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; brown sausage for 3-4 minutes.
Add onion and garlic – cook 2-3 minutes.
Add broth, cover and bring to a boil.
Add pasta and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add spinach, stirring into pasta & sauce 2-3 minutes more until spinach wilts.
Stir in cream and cheeses, stirring to thoroughly combine & melt cheese.
Serve.

Here are some variations on how I’ve cooked this..

Camping in the Dutch Oven – to bring the broth to a boil and cook the pasta, place hot coals on top of the lid – don’t forget to rotate the lid & pot for even heating.img_2060

 

Don’t eat pasta?  No problem!  Decrease the broth 8 ounces, and skip adding the pasta.  Cook a spaghetti squash, then serve the sausage spinach over the spaghetti squash.

I made a dehydrated version of this (minus the dairy) for a backpacking trip last summer – essentially I dehydrated the sausage, then we carried store-bought dehydrated spinach and onions, some chicken bullion & spaghetti noodles.  It worked OK – I need to work on my rehydrating ratios.  Next I’m going to try freeze drying – then I can keep in all the dairy.

I first liked this recipe because it was easy to prepare in the evening without a lot of hassle or cleanup.  Now I love it because my boys will eat it – and sometimes even help make it (see how thrilled they are to be helping in the kitchen)!

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I’d love to hear what you think if you try this recipe – or share one of your go-to meals for busy weeknights.

~Enjoy!

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Baby I’m Worth IT!

1604-cc-baby-im-worth-itThe April Constant Campaign at Close To My Heart is FABULOUS!  Have you ever considered teaching others to be make cards or scrapbooks?  Would you like to purchase sweet Close To My Heart products at a discount?  Or – would you like to do ALL of these things AND get paid for it?  Then this month’s special is for YOU!

 

 

When you sign up as a consultant during April – you get:

  • The New Consultant Kit for just $75 (retail value of product and supplies is $205!)
  • $50 in Select Product Credit to personalize your kit with the things you’d like for building your business (or building your stash!)
  • The chance to earn a free CRICUT cartridge or $100 in additional Select Product Credit by submitting $350 in sales during your first 30 days.15-ai-cricut-artfully-sent-collection
  • The Straight To the Top Incentive Program – earn additional product and exclusive1510-straight-to-the-top-medium-organizer-with-productstamp sets, bags & jewelry based on sales submitted (plus the commission on those sales!)

 

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Those are the product & monetary benefits – but in addition there are:

 

  • New friends to meet (customers, fellow consultants, other business folks)
  • Fantastic Up Line and Side Line support – business questions, artistic inspiration – you name it!
  • Amazing artwork ideas – the Home Office does a wonderful job of providing artwork you can use in your business – or create your own – the choice is yours.
  • Beautiful paper crafting products to play with!

So, whether you are a hobbyist (you just want to build your stash at a great price), would like to add a little income by doing this part time, or if you’d like to build a larger business & team – just go to my website at gerri.ctmh.com – to look for more details and get signed up.

If you have additional questions please give me a call at 801-920-4681 or email at gerri-ctmh@hotmail.com  – I would love to be a part of the team that helps you succeed!!

Enjoy!

~Gerri

Planners Gonna Plan – Everyday Life Planner

Woo Hoo!  I was really excited when Close To My Heart announced we would be adding the Everyday Life planner for 2016!  You see, I’m a list maker, calendar poster, schedule keeper.  My husband laughed at me for the schedule I created to make sure everyone got where they needed to on our wedding day (laugh away, but it was smooth sailing!!).

During December, you can get your hands on the new Everyday Life 1511-planner-preview-us_caPlanner bundle (CC1059) which includes the Everyday Life™ Album in black; Everyday Life™ 2016 Planner Pages (154 pages, including 1 pocket folder page, 12 monthly dividers with tabs, 1 designed page finder, and 4 sheets of stickers); Everyday Life™ Perfect Plan Roller Stamp all for only $29.95 USD / $35.95 CAD. That’s over 15% off the retail price!

With the new Everyday Life line, you’ll experience “memory keeping on the go” as you track your menus and shopping lists, stamp reminders, keep appointments, and tuck away precious memories—plus much more—all at once! This offer is only available while supplies last, so plan to place your order early in the month and start 2016 off right.

But this isn’t just any planner…. this planner also has coordinating My Crush pages (for journaling or more informal scrapbooking – add your memorabelia and jot down your memories on the go).  And if that isn’t enough – you can also get Picture My Life pages to add pocket scrapbooking to your planner.  (These coordinating pages will be available on 1 January 2015).

Remember – this specially priced bundle is only available during December 2015, and while supplies last – so get yours early so you can start planning your new year!  To get yours just go to gerri.ctmh.com and look for the Banner.

Enjoy!

~Gerri

 

(Im)patiently Waiting…

It’s been cold the last few days – just teasing us with winter – but no snow.  I can see it in the mountains, a lovely white dusting.  I haven’t seen much here in the valley – a few light flurries a few days ago.  I was hoping this morning that when I looked out the window we’d at least have somesnow on the ground – but no, not yet.   I don’t watch the weather – I live in Utah, so it’s going to be hot in the summer, cold in the winter – I don’t need to know how hot or cold.  We might get rain in the spring/fall, & snow in the winter – occasionally in June.  When it happens it happens, but I’m ready for the snow to start now!

Yes – I’m one of ‘those people’ that love to see it snow and I especially love to play in the snow.  I’m (im)patiently waiting for that dusting on the mountain to turn to a dumping.  Watching Facebook for pictures of Powder Mountain ready to go!  Anxiously waiting to drive up the mountain and play.  I’m longingly looking at pictures from last year – just waiting!!!

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I’m waiting for another beautiful day like my birthday last year – where the sky is a rich, crystal blue.  The snow on the trees is glistening in the morning sunlight.

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In the meantime – I’ll keep waiting, I’ll apply for my son’s Ski Utah passport so he can get some free passes; I’ll make sure everyone still fits in their under layers, boots & gloves; I’ll snuggle under a blanket by the fireplace and I’ll keep dreaming for those perfect days with my family up on the mountain…

boarding
Enjoying a day in the snow

Very IMPATIENTLY Waiting….

~Gerri

Goblins Galore!

I guess this would have been more appropriate for last month, but I didn’t get my fingers in DSC_0039gear soon enough.  Last month my family spent a weekend at Goblin Valley State Park.  Goblin Valley is North and West of Moab, UT, near the San Rafael Swell.  This area is full of amazing red rock formations resulting from the uplifting and subsequent erosion of sandstone.

IMG_2004I was at first surprised that they allowed the public to roam among the hoodoos in the valleys.  And – being a IMG_2016State Park, we were able to bring the dogs along!  After playing in the Goblin Valley, we took a short hike out to the Goblin’s Lair.  When we first got there, we didn’t know what it was supposed to be – that is until the boys explored and found the Lair!  It was a cave that we crawled down into.

Goblin Valley was a great place to enjoy the night sky.  It was amazingly clear and with the help of a Sky App, we were able to find Scorpio, Pegasus, and a few other constellations we don’t normally get to see.  The Park does an Astronomy program when there is a new moon – unfortunately, the night it was scheduled, the clouds rolled in so were weren’t able to see much.

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Petroglyphs outside Goblin Valley State Park

Here are a few other pictures from our trip and the beautiful landscape.   The rolling sandstone dunes are amazing to me – they look like windswept sand, yet they are solid stone. DSC_0101

A little Dutch Oven dinner

A little Dutch Oven dinner

This was probably our last camping trip until next spring.  It was a great way to finish out our year.

Enjoy!

Was it the Full Moon?

The MELTDOWN….

I’m sure those of you with calm, angelic children don’t have this problem.  Those of you without children can’t even comprehend it.  Sure, you’ve witnessed it at the store or restaurant – but until you’ve lived through it – well you probably won’t get it.

I had the pleasure of not just 1, but 3 or 4 meltdowns this weekend.  I’d like to blame it on the full moon (you know that super/blood moon that everyone was raving about and that was actually the cause for 1 of the said meltdowns?!)  But, no – that wasn’t the problem.  It might have been too much sugar, maybe even wheat, too much stimulation, not enough sleep?  I can only guess at the trigger – but the root cause goes back to ADHD, ODD, SPD, ASD – any number of letter combinations that my kids were tested for.  What those letters ultimately mean is life with kids isn’t anything like I had expected… That I pray for lots of patience & guidance – every day…That even though my kids look like every other kid, there are things going on in their brains that cause them to struggle.

One son had a meltdown Saturday night because I told him it was time for bed and he couldn’t have a snack (he’d been watching a movie so had plenty of time to get a snack before the movie ended).  He yelled and slammed things for an hour – yes an hour – all for the lack of a granola bar.  In the process he put a hole in the wall (which he’ll have to fix), lost electronics for a week and was grounded to his room for a day – but that didn’t matter.  Sunday it started all over again – he didn’t like the options I gave him for breakfast, he didn’t want to eat lunch, he didn’t want to have to stay in his room.

My other son is on the autism spectrum – you can’t tell it to look at him, he’s on the lower end.  But it effects his life in very real ways.  He’s very smart, but gets frustrated by things that don’t make sense – he has a low tolerance for many things.  So when he saw the moon rise & it was shrouded with clouds, it wasn’t red, and the shadow wasn’t going in a way that made sense to him – he lost it.  I’m talking crying, stomping, over the top – especially for his age.  It didn’t make sense and he couldn’t figure it out.

My heart breaks for my boys with each meltdown.  I did what I could this weekend – prayed – alot!!! Dealt out consequences where they were needed, ignored what I knew was said or done to try to push my buttons, and started taking things away (that finally stopped the fit – grounding and loss of electronics didn’t matter, but when I started to remove things from his room – I finally got his attention).  For my other son, I searched the internet and found a video to show him why the moon & the shadow didn’t look the way he thought they would – and he regained his composure.

I’m not really sure why I’m telling you all this.  I have some great friends that are my support group  – I can talk to them, they pray for me, I pray for them, some are in the same situation.  But, I guess I wanted to share a little piece of my life that isn’t so simple.  or easy.  or pretty.  Definitely no ‘Pinterest Perfection’ here!  I considered joining Periscope last week (for those of you just learning, like me, it’s an app that you can live stream video to your followers).  Could you imagine if I had Periscoped the meltdowns?  or my reactions? or life in general?  That’s the makings of another BAD reality show.  But life goes on.  Today is a new day – still no electronics, but no meltdowns this morning.  I’m thankful for the positive start to the day – hope it continues through their day at school – and will do my best to keep things calm this evening.

Wish me luck, better yet – Say a prayer… not just for me, but for all parents – it’s one tough job!  But I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!

~Gerri

Maiden Backpacking Trip – Wall Lake, UT

Backpacking… something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.  Hiking the Appalachian Trail IMG_1741fromend to end has been on my bucket list since before I knew what a bucket list was.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know any backpackers or even how to get started.  …Enter the Boy Scouts…. no, I’m not a boy – but I have one (2, actually – 3 if you count my husband)!!!  My oldest son and husband went on their first backpacking trip last year, and both enjoyed it very much.  We spent another year discussing going as a family, and finally we went earlier this month.

IMG_1707We decided on Wall Lake in the Uinta Mountains.  The lake is just a short 1 mile hike – which was a perfect maiden voyage for a 40-something-ish Mom and 9 year old boy (my younger son had not been backpacking yet, either).  When we got to the Crystal Lake trail head, there was no parking, however, so we added about another mile to the hike because we had to park in the overflow lot (which was really just a dirt road).  The hike in was fairly uneventful – except for my older son reacting to his pack.  He has some sensory issues and the uncomfortable pack was not sitting right with him.

Then there was the squirrel… my son needed a break from his pack (this helped avoid a meltdown) so he took a break.  He sat on a fallen tree with his back to a meadow & I sat on a rock facing the meadow.  A squirrel ran across another log in the meadow carrying something.  When I pointed this out, my irritated son said – “I hope it gets eaten by a hawk.”  Next thing we knew, this squirrel had run up the tree behind him and started ‘yelling’ at him – tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut.  Cody jumped up and faced the tree – he was having none of that and yelled back at the squirrel – na-na-na-na-na.  Back and forth they went tut – na – tut –na.  The squirrel was facing him down – apparently Mr. Squirrel did not like the idea of becoming a grab & go hawk dinner.  Luckily that interaction also lightened Cody’s mood a bit and we were able to move on.

We arrived at the lake and found a place to pitch our tents – a nice area sheltered by the trees and just up the shore a bit from the lake.  We could look out across the lake to see the wall of cliffs (I’m assuming where the lake gets its name) and Mt Watson behind them and then to our IMG_1665right was the Notch.  After settling in, my husband and I took a short hike along The Notch Trail – which was shaded, and passed by several ponds and marshy areas.  These areas were such a pretty mixture of greens and really contrasted with all the dead pines infested by the pine beetles.

Over the course of the next few hours, I learned how to use the jet boil (boiling water in 2 minutes – awesome!) and filter water in a Platypus gravity filtration system (I was shocked at how good the water tasted).  My husband and I enjoyed a bit of wine with our Mountain House dinners, and the boys had some fun fishing.  I went for another short hike around the end ofIMG_1708 the lake and found a peaceful area to spend a few minutes meditating.  It’s so easy to forget how totally blessed I am to be able to get out and enjoy the beauty that God has surrounded us with.

IMG_1732The next morning, I again hiked back to the little pond we visited the day before (I was hoping to see some moose or other wildlife).  Since there was someone camped there, I continued up the trail a bit and decided to climb one of the cliffs to get a better view.  It was a fairly easy climb – almost like going up a ladder – although if anyone watched me they might have gotten a chuckle at how I would look over/around each place I was going to put my hands (I am petrified of snakes!).  IMG_1740I was rewarded at the top with a beautiful view back over Wall and Trial Lakes and the mountains beyond.  Again I reflected on the beauty that surrounded me.  Although the pine beetle damage was much more evident from up here, I couldn’t help but think those beetles must serve some purpose in life even with the destruction they create.

After some breakfast and a little more fishing for the boys, we headed back down to the car and real life (and a short interchange between my son and Mr. Squirrel again).  Although getting to the campsite and back is a bit harder than trailer camping – the clean up is a lot quicker!  For me this was a great experience and I can’t wait to go again.  I’ve been scouting some places in the same area that are a bit more remote than Wall Lake.  We may not be able to head out again until spring – but I’m ready!