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Grab My Button

I’ve been playing with this recipe for awhile and have finally tweaked it enough that everyone in my family gobbles it up and goes back for seconds, even my three year old picky eater! It is much healthier than traditional meat based sauces and the blend of turkey sausage and turkey mince gives it wonderful flavor. The red pepper flakes give it the tiniest hint of a kick but still leaves it kid friendly.

1 lb turkey sausage
1 lb turkey mince
1 large onions, chopped
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (10 oz)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    Spray slow cooker with cooking spray

    Add diced tomato, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to slow cooker

    Cook sausage and mince in skillet until cooked through, drain and transfer to slow cooker

    In same pan saute onion mushrooms and garlic until soft then transfer to slow cooker

    Stir ingredients together and cook at a low setting for 8-10 hours

Makes approximately 12 generous servings and freezes wonderfully.

When I started this blog one of my first posts said that this is not the blog you’ll find recipes on, well that’s changing along with a lot of other things. The past six months of my life have been a journey into trying to find the old me, the one that could cook, the one that never gave up on anything.

In June 2006 I had a stroke, physically with some hard work I recovered and eventually regained my fine motor skills. I thought I was fine but mentally I wasn’t the same person I was before the stroke. I was getting frustrated over little things, could no longer read a book, had the attention span of a toddler, couldn’t speak without getting tongue tied, could not keep a thought in my head long enough to finish a sentence and never finished anything I started. I stopped talking to friends and dreaded social gatherings because I hated trying to have conversations, I felt like an idiot. I would think I replied to an email but hadn’t, forget to return phone calls and I am sure upset a few friends along the way. I became everything I always preached against, I stopped getting out there and stopped living my life. I allowed myself to become consumed with the house because it gave me the excuse I needed to stay home and hide from the world. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was happily miserable.

Its been about six months since I decided that something had to change. I now sit here in front of the computer typing happily away 30 pounds lighter and not stopping every five words to try and remember where I was up to. I have read four books in the past week. I cook dinner every night and nothing is prepackaged from the freezer, things have changed and they have changed for the better. I am happier, my husband is feeling well taken care of and the kids are getting a lot more attention.

It has not been an easy road to get to where I am now and I still struggle daily but things are getting easier with each passing day. When I first started this journey I made lists for everything, what I was going to do and what order I was going to do them in. This went for cleaning, cooking, the kids, anything I dealt with in the day had a list and I became obsessed with those lists. Those lists allowed me to complete tasks without getting frustrated about forgetting that I had laundry on or getting lost in the middle of trying to do something. I gave up my lists just before Christmas and while I tire myself out from remembering what is going at any given moment I am making it through on my own.

As for my getting tongue tied I am getting better. I talk and sing all day, whatever thoughts are in my head or whatever song pops in, out it comes. If I get confused on lyrics I look them up and sing them until I remember them. I’m feeling great about what 2011 has to bring and am unbelievably happy how far I have come in six months. I am doing things that a year ago would have had me throwing my hands in the air and walking out of the room. I plan on celebrating this year in June, I survived a stroke and I finally found me again.

door stopperWinter is quickly approaching so its time to start thinking about winterizing the house and trying to save money on heating bills. Last year our gas bills were horrendous and my bank account is still living in fear from them. I’ve started the process of sealing up windows, baseboards, caulking and using insulation foam on any crack I find. Last year I bought two expensive “draft stoppers” from a well known home store and they turned out to be useless. They are so light that a breeze could blow them away from the door. I went searching for a better ones and decided to make my own. I am not about to pay over $20 for stuffed cloth that just lays in front of my door five months out of the year. Since sewing is not on my list of skills I had to find the simplest solution available.

To make two draft stoppers you will need:

1 Pair of woman’s tights
1 10 pound bag of beans
1 Spool of ribbon

Step one
Cut the panty and toe caps off of the tights

Step two
Tie one side off with ribbon

Step 3
Fill with half bag of beans. To make this easier I took the sides off the ribbon spool and inserted it into the open end to keep the tights open

Step 4
Tie off open end

Voila!!! A beautiful and functional door stopper at a cost of a $6.50 each.

doorstop no sew

Geometric dome climber In early spring I bought the Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber for my two and three year old children. I had wonderful memories of playing on similar structures when I was a young kid and have to admit, I couldn’t wait to play on it myself! The search for a dome at first left me frustrated with similar structures costing well over six hundred dollars. All my searches eventually lead to Amazon and as usual they never disappoint. The Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber is available on Amazon for $199 and is eligible for Amazon Prime. I ordered the climber on a Wednesday afternoon and it showed up Friday morning.

I couldn’t wait to get this thing built and being the stubborn person I am decided to do it on my own despite the directions saying that it was a two person job. I’ve always said I can do the work of two people, now I have proof! The instructions for setting the dome up were very clear and it made the process fairly easy. It took me about two and a half hours to build, not bad considering the instructions say that it takes two hours for two people.

I have been extremely impressed with this dome and my kids are in love with it. The specs say that it will hold up to 1,200 pounds and I believe it. My husband and I have been on it with both kids and it didn’t budge one bit. The dome itself is large, it stands around 5′ tall and is 6′ in diameter. It is the perfect size for backyard play and its usefulness goes beyond just being a climbing dome. I have thrown a tarp over it and my kids pretended it was a cave. The kids have pretended its a jail and they have just sat inside it playing with the shadows. In the six months we have owned the dome I feel like I already have my monies worth out of it and couldn’t be any more impressed with it.

When I first set the dome up my son’s head was level with the lower bar and I thought it would be ages before he could climb it. He proved me wrong that very day. He scales this thing like a pro and I can tell a huge difference in his strength. His favorite thing to do is to climb up, hang and swing off of one of the bars. When he first started doing this he would swing off and drop. Now he uses his legs to keep swinging and can hang up there for over a minute. This has given him confidence and that confidence has spilled over into his gymnastics class as well. Overall I highly recommend the Lifetime Geometric Dome , the whole family loves to play on it and I know with the endless play options it will be a fixture in our backyard for a long time to come.

Here’s a few shots of my little Monkey on his favorite outdoor toy.

geometric dome climber

dome climber review

I recently put a chain link dog kennel in my backyard to keep the deer, possums and squirrels out of my garden. Once I had it put together it stuck out like a sore thumb. When I looked out in my backyard all I could see was this huge galvanized steel structure glaring out at me. I decided to paint it black and wow what a difference, with it being painted black you see straight through it and it doesn’t interrupt our views.

I had my entire structure put together when I decided to paint so I chose to use spray paint on the support bars and roll the chain link fence. Make sure you choose a paint that is suitable for metal, I used RustOleum. When choosing a roller to paint the chain link make sure you get one with a really thick nap, this will save you a lot of time since it will get into all the little areas.

I learned a few lessons from my little project. The first was paint the chain link first and then go back and spray the support bars. If you paint the support bars first the movement of the chain link when your rolling it will remove the wet paint you previously sprayed on. The second is painting the chain link is MESSY! I had paint splashes all over my hands and arms. If you are using an oil based paint the most natural and easiest way I found to remove it is using olive oil. The third is paint the chain link diagonally one direction and then the other. The time spent painting a chain link fence is well worth it, it gives it a whole new look and makes it look more expensive than a cheap chain link fence.

You can see the before picture here.

My painted chain link fence
painting a chain link fence

My sweet angelic little son decided overnight that he is now a kicking, screaming, temper tantrum throwing brat. We were able to avoid the “terrible two’s” for seven months, it sure was nice while it lasted. In the past week we have had a tantrum over leaving Red Robin, multiple tantrums over being put in a shopping cart and today the mother of all tantrums and we have no idea what it is over. We’ve been trying all the methods the experts recommend and here’s where we’re at.

Ignoring the child
We have tried ignoring him but after thirty minutes of tantrum from a kid that won’t back down he is hard to ignore. I might as well be standing underneath a landing airplane, once he gets going he is louder than any jet engine.

Give your child some space
Another failing method for dealing with my son. He follows you around so he makes sure you know how ticked off he is. Today we tried giving him space in his room and I write this listening to twenty minutes of non stop screaming.

Create a Diversion
All I can say is hahaha! The diversion is met with screams of no or the diversion being hurled across the room.

All I’m going to say is two busted lips from a hard headed little boy

Offer Food
Ummm OK, let him learn from an early age if I throw a fit Mommy is going to give me a cookie. No thanks.

Speak Calmly
We have tried the calm approach and talking to him in a soothing voice to find it is a waste of time, he is screaming too loud for him to hear us.

Remove the child from the situation
We tried taking the approach of removing him from the situation, who thought of this? Seriously, the kid has started throwing fits because he knows that he gets his own way by doing so. He is out of the cart, in the car and usually on his way back home.

My daughter had her moments but her tantrums were nothing compared to whatever takes over my son when he has his. The joys of raising kids!

watching the rainThis morning I had go run to Lowes to get a new vent cover for the dryer that the dog chewed up. In the ten minutes from our house to Lowe’s a huge storm rolled in and dumped several inches of rain and hail. We got to the Lowes parking lot and between the rain and hail there was no way I could get two kids out of the car and get in without drowning or being knocked out.

I choose to sit in the parking lot with thunder rattling the car, lightning bolts striking in the distance and the torrential downpour. I thought that it would roll through quickly, 30 minutes we were still there. My son started getting cranky after the first five minutes so I let the kids out of their car seats and they ran rampant around the back of the Yukon for five minutes before they got bored.

I’m not Supermom, I never have the necessary essentials on hand to keep the kids happy in situations like this. I had no snacks, no drinks and no toys. I didn’t even have a pen in my purse so my daughter could draw. There was lightning around us so I didn’t want to go handing the kids electronic devices. Then it hit me, I Spy! Yes, my daughter loves this game and Ethan always tries to chime in. I start off “I spy with my little”, that’s when my daughter interrupted me, hands on hips, “I can’t spy through the rain Mommy”. I was waiting for the “duh” following that. In the end we ending up singing twenty minutes of “Rain Rain go Away”. I really need to start that whole good mommy being prepared thing, I’ll probably drink less if I do.

A woman on a forum I frequent recently made a post about a pair of combat boots she had for 11 years and regretted getting rid of. Her post made me think about a pair of boots in my closet that I’ve owned for over 20 years and can’t bring myself to part with. I’m not a pack rat and for me to keep something like this is rare.

I can’t remember exactly when I bought these boots; I do remember that I bought them in high school. I remember wearing them to basketball games and when I was 18 and delivered pizzas. I wore them to my first frat party and they have been around longer than I have kept any guy in my life. These boots have been resoled in three times, walked on four continents and more countries than I was sober enough to remember. I have fond memories of running through the backstreets of Venice in the rain with a hole in the left sole and my foot getting soaked.

Throwing away these boots would be like throwing out a huge part of my past. They were versatile enough to wear with long skirts, leggings, jeans and I have even polished them up and worn them with dress pants. I no longer wear them and they sit in my closet desperate for a fourth resoling. I would love to know how many miles I walked in my favorite boots, I assume its a lot to have worn through four pairs of soles. If I ever decide to part with these boots I think they will deserve to be given a proper burial and not be turned into landfill.


One Iris out of the hundreds in our garden

cross pollinated iris

virginia creeperI recently had a contractor doing some work give me a bit of a scare. We have vines growing all over our barn and up a 160 year old oak tree in the back yard. He was looking at the tree and jumped back pointing to the vine saying “that’s poison oak”. I remembered clearing brush away from that tree last year and not getting a rash but assumed that him being a country boy from around here he knew what he was talking about. I noticed another vine just like it in the front garden this morning and it made me do a Google search to find out what it was.

I Googled both Poison Oak and Poison Ivy and it didn’t look like what we have. So I Googled deciduous vine with five leaves and found that it is actually a vine called a Virginia Creeper. I can see why he thought it was poison oak but am very happy its not. Virginia Creeper is one of those vines that’s easy to grow and near impossible to kill. I love it on the barn, in the summer it is lush and green and in the fall the leaves turn a gorgeous red before falling off. The areas we have it are very shady and it adds so much color and texture.

Virginia Creeper in the Spring and Fall
Virgina creeper colors