Sweet Potato Hash

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I haven’t posted a recipe in quite a while so I thought I would share this one. It is one of the few traditional breakfast dishes that doesn’t cause an eczema flare up in our little one so I have been cooking it often between breakfasts of sauteed green beans and slow cooker pot roasts.

Sweet Potato Hash

5 medium to large sweet potatoes
1/2 onion
3-4 cloves garlic
16 oz breakfast sausage
rosemary
thyme
garlic salt
olive oil

Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Dice the onion and garlic and combine with sweet potato and oil in a cast iron skillet (you can use your stainless steel or non stick instead). Turn the heat to medium-low. If the heat is up too high the onions and garlic will finish cooking before the potatoes. Start on the lower side and turn up the heat as needed.

Stir the hash occasionally to help potatoes brown nicely on all sides. While the potatoes are cooking pull out another small skillet and brown the sausage. Once the potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes on my stove) , transfer the cooked meat into the skillet and season with rosemary, thyme, and garlic salt. Mix well and allow to cook for a few more minutes.

Once the smell becomes too great to resist any longer, take the skillet off the heat and heap into a bowl (if you want it to stay warm longer) or spread onto a plate (if you want it to cool quickly so you can devour it). Go ahead and add a bit more- your stomach will thank you.

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A Balanced Life

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot about living a balanced life. I have always been drawn to this idea, but more so since I returned to work post-baby and my life suddenly became pure chaos. Piles of laundry, long commutes, and not enough sleep have been the norm for me since February. For reference, it took two months back at work before I found a moment to look at our budget when I used to review it daily. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by working full time and trying to be a mom.

How do you find balance when you can’t even keep your head above water? The answer: you can’t. I found myself in a situation where the bad days outweighed the good and even found myself being jealous of my daughter’s sitter. Not a good place to be. So…

I quit my job.

To be more accurate I stepped down from my position as supervisor and stopped working full time (effective today). I’m still doing some [very] part time work, but no more 40+ hours a week + commute + daycare drop off/pick up.

I’m happy.

Seriously happy. And now I feel like I have margin in my life again which feels SO good. I’ve come up with a list of items I want to focus on now that I’m a [mostly] stay at home mom. Over the next few weeks I plan to make some very measurable goals out of these, but here is the summary of what I want to accomplish with my new job as stay at home mom.

1.) De-clutter and clean my house. Create a system to keep it clean and picked up.

2.) Focus on better nutrition and overall health for my family. Eat more veggies and non-animal sources of protein.

3.) Find activities both for me to enjoy solo and things I enjoy doing with my baby.

I feel like I want to accomplish a lot and the challenge will be reigning myself in and not getting frustrated when things are not perfect by next week. I have a tendency to overextend and take on too much at once, but I hope I am able to push through the disappointment and accomplish everything on my list. I yearn for balance and simplicity in my life and I am confident I am closer to finding both.

How have you found balance in your own life?


Project Complete

Remember when I gave you a little teaser in this post of the project I was working on? I had been searching for the right night stand for quite a while when my in-laws found themselves with a bed side table they didn’t need anymore. I think they were a little confused as to why I wanted an old nightstand with rickety drawers, but they graciously humored me and allowed me to have it. It started out like this:

beforeI forgot to take a photo before the hardware came off, but you can see the outline of the old decorative brass pulls that were once a part of this gem. The stain had that yellowish tint to it that I can’t stand at all, but the construction was solid and I liked the basic design.

sandedWhat I didn’t anticipate is how long it would take to sand such a small piece of furniture! I worked on it over the course of three days, and my best guesstimate is about 10 hours worth of work. So maybe I would have been better off just buying a new piece, but where is the fun in that? It definitely wasn’t a perfect sanding job, but my fingers could barely grip the sander by the end of it so I finally just had to call it quits.

The post-sanding photo is the one I let you see in the post mentioned above. That was almost a year ago. It got cold and rainy after that so I had a difficult time finding a day when I wasn’t working and the weather was good. Because the sanding was so labor intensive I also imagined the staining process to be a major time commitment. So I put it off, telling myself in the spring I would pick it back up. It didn’t help that I put it next to the bed and started using it, though I did cover it with a sheet in an attempt to preserve my 10 hours of labor.

Spring came and went and still the nightstand stayed in its unstained condition. For my birthday (July) I told Adam I wanted him to buy me the stain and supplies to finish, as well as allow me a day to focus just on this project. My birthday came and went and finally in August we bought the needed supplies. In September I found myself home one day with beautiful weather and no plans. I declared that I would finish the night stand. Adam suggested I stain inside, rather than carrying the heavy piece outside, so I put down my drop cloth, opened all the windows, and started to stain.

Just as I was shocked by the 10 hours of sanding, I was equally shocked that it only took me about 30 minutes to apply a coat of stain. It went on smoothly didn’t even require a sanding between coats. I applied two coats and was grateful I picked the stain + polyurethane mix. After just 1 hour of work (with a few hours of wait time in between) the piece was almost complete! The hardware went on in minutes, and this is what I ended up with:

completeI still need to put the new drawer runners on, but cosmetically it is finished. I am so happy with the way it turned out, and even though it took me almost a year from start to finish I am glad I took on the project. I showed my in-laws when they came to visit last and my mother in law responded “well now I want it back!”

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Have you worked on or completed any DIY projects recently? Tell me about it or link to your post in the comments. 


The NOVAdventurer

A friend at work mentioned geocaching to me a few months ago and I was immediately intrigued. For those of you who don’t know, geocaching is a real world scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates. Basically someone hides a small container (like a small Tupperware) and then posts the GPS coordinates online for other people to find. I have been wanting to try it out ever since I heard about it, but plans were foiled by bad weather every weekend I found myself not working. Finally this past weekend we had beautiful weather and I convinced Adam that it was time we gave it a try. We downloaded the iPhone app and were off!

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In each cache you’ll find a log sheet to record your name and the date you found the cache. The above was the second cache we found and the log sheet was short (the first cache I forgot to snap a photo of).

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Our third and final cache for the day was the most difficult to find, even though it was in plain sight! We think it may have been moved from it’s original spot as our GPS coordinates did not match up perfectly. There were many treasures inside (the rule is you can take something, but you must leave something of equal or greater value). Because this was our first adventure we didn’t know exactly what we would find, but next time we plan on taking some trinkets to swap out.

I thought we would only do one to try it out, but we had so much fun we ended up finding 3! We were pleasantly surprised by how many caches have been hidden in our neighborhood, and I think it will take a while before we actually have to start driving to the locations.

If you like puzzles or treasure hunts you should give this a try! Visit the official geocaching website and create a login to get started. If you want to connect we are treasure hunting under the username  NOVAdventurer.

Have you ever tried geocaching? Share your experiences in the comments. 


I [heart] Chocolate

We were supposed to get some massive snowstorm today. Here is what it looked like at 10 am Wednesday morning.

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Oh, what a crazy storm! The U.S. government shuts down when we have these crazy snow storms, so hubby got to work from home today. Since we had extra time for breakfast, Adam requested that we make something special. I had seen some chocolate waffles on Pinterest the other day, so I suggested we try some and hubby began salivating right then and there.

Since I hadn’t actually pinned the recipe I saw, I did a quick Google search and the first link was for an Alton Brown recipe. I absolutely adore this man and his cooking, so I simply could not resist. Once again, he delivered. You can find the recipe here. I replaced 1/2 cup of all purpose flour with wheat flour and they turned out great. I might try to go 100% whole wheat next time.

You’ll have to forgive me- the only photo I have is the less-than-perfect one I posted on Instagram earlier. I meant to take more photos, but I sort of got caught up in the chocolate goodness of the waffles and the accompanying sauce. If you’ve never had fruit sauce on your waffles or pancakes, you have to try it. Super easy and ridiculously good. Just throw frozen fruit in your blender with a little water and blend. I did frozen strawberries and a banana with about 1/2 cup water. I also added about 1 TBSP of maple syrup at the end because I didn’t think it was quite sweet enough.

Waffles

What is your favorite chocolate food or treat? Tell us in the comments and be sure to leave a link if you have one! 


My First

Sorry all! I’ve been a little distracted with life and have consequently been absent here. I apologize for the lack of “Mondays that Matter” post this week. I also completely forgot to tell all my wonderful readers that I guest posted at My Bookbloom this past Friday. My real life friend Miranda writes over there and she is awesome. I’m honored that I got to do my first guest post as a blogger for her. Check it out! And while you’re over there reading go back a few days and read her “Chocolate Love” post. I tried out the recipe and it was delicious.

Here’s the link again:

My Bookbloom
http://mybookbloom.blogspot.com/2013/02/friday-favorites-guest-post-by-christy.html

Enjoy!

Canada

(photo courtesy of my grandma)


Homemade Pizza

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We absolutely love homemade pizza, as I’m sure many of you do as well. I had to try a few different crusts before I settled on this recipe, but it’s good and I hope you all try it! The pizza above was made from leftover beef (cooked in the crockpot) and fresh green peppers. We have also recently made BBQ pizza with this same crust. We did red sauce on one half of the pizza and BBQ sauce on the other side and liked both. We topped it with shredded BBQ chicken and bell peppers. We will definitely be making the BBQ pizza again.

Pizza Crust
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp salt
2 TB olive oil
3 1/3 c. all purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let is sit for 10 minutes.

Stir the salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of flour (I usually end up mixing in more at this point).

Move dough to well floured surface and knead in flour until dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size. 

Punch down dough and form a tight ball. Roll out and use your favorite pizza recipe.

Sauce and toppings
I just use tomato sauce on the crust and sprinkle a pizza seasoning mix I buy at Winco on top of that. For toppings- get creative. Onions, peppers, and meat all work well. Top will mozarella cheese and cook for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees (on a pizza stone). If you are not using a pizza stone, let the dough rise for 15 minutes before topping it.

What do you like on your pizza?