Fried Chicken Livers & Smashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy

A meal like this is just where all of those bacon drippings you’ve been hoarding come in handy. You do that too, right?

This is how I keep my bacon drippings in the fridge. It lasts a very, very, long time and then you always have it handy for those special occasions when you’re making something extra delicious.

You MUST have a splatter lid when frying the chicken livers. Number one, because it makes clean up of your stove much easier, and number two and most importantly, because you do not want exploding chicken liver all over your kitchen ceiling. You need a splatter guard, which is a mesh screen, because if you cover the liver with a lid, it won’t crisp.

When you flip the livers, hold the screen in front of you and your face. Hot bacon grease and exploding chicken liver is painful.

Fried Chicken Livers

1 Container of Chicken Livers, organic if possible, rinsed

Organic Almond Milk

1 Organic Egg

Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Organic Garlic Powder

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Bacon Grease/Drippings (from all natural bacon)

First, let’s remind ourselves that this is a special meal. An indulgence meal…I only make it about once a year. So we won’t be counting calories or worrying about our hips and thighs. We will simply enjoy the comfort and memories of childhood that these types of meals bring with them.

Melt a generous amount of bacon grease in a large skillet. I used about two heaping serving spoons full.

In a medium dish or dinner plate, add about 1 cup or so of the flour and generously season with the garlic powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Remember, it’s just a dredge so the majority of the coating stays on the plate. You want what ends up stuck to the liver to be flavorful!

Pour about 1/2 cup almond milk into a cereal sized bowl and whisk in the egg.

Once the bacon grease is heated on medium to medium high, dip each chicken liver into the milk and egg mixture and then into the flour mixture. Coat well, shake off, and lay carefully into the bacon grease.

Cover with the splatter shield. Allow to brown thoroughly before flipping. I would say about 6-7 minutes on each side or more, depending on the heat in your pan.

Smashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy

Both the smashed potatoes (basically the lazy cousin of the mashed potato) and the pan gravy are a no brainer. I’ll just give you the ingredients that I used. You can go here for pan gravy instructions if you’ve never made it. It’s SO easy!

Organic Yukon Gold Potatoes, skin on

Almond Milk

Dairy Free Butter

Kosher Salt

For the pan gravy:

Leave drippings in the pan

Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Dairy Free Butter

Organic Chicken Broth

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Fig Pillows & An Eye Opener

Remember the book I told you I started the other day? Well, it’s packed full of all kinds of interesting information. I have only made it to Chapter 5 (there are 16) and I am already loving it. Much of the medical information I already knew or at least had heard of, but nonetheless, it’s all still very interesting. Xenoestrogen in particular. Lorraine Pintus, the author of Jump Off The Hormone Swing, refers to Xenoestrogen as Estrogen’s evil twin sister. “She looks like estrogen but she comes into your body from a foreign place.”

If you’re a male and you’re thinking this post isn’t for you, hold on a minute, because even though we’re talking about “estrogen”, it involves you too. Everyone is exposed to xenoestrogens through our environment. They are in the air we breath (chemicals, pollution) the water we drink (plastic bottles, pollution), the food we eat (non-organic foods, animals being given hormones and being fed GMO products), and the products we use (anti-aging creams, lotions, cleansing products, makeup, laundry detergents).

Lorraine says everything from diabetes to infertility are being linked to the “evil twin sister”. Also, many women who suffer from sever PMS and perimenopause symptoms are estrogen dominant. Xenoestrogens are a big part of that dominance problem.

If you would like to learn more about xenoestrogens in particular,  here are a couple more websites. Or, you can just Google “Xenoestrogens” and you’ll find all kinds of information.

http://flowinghealth.org/xenoestrogen_patient_handout.pdf  http://endojourney.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/a-list-of-xenoestrogens/ .

So, without getting completely obsessive and hyper about it, let’s look at it logically. Lorraine uses the 80/20 rule, which I think is a great idea. 80% of the time we can pretty easily control what we use, how we use it, what we eat, and what we are exposing ourselves to. If you leave your house, which we all do, then it makes a lot of sense that 20% of the time, you can’t control it, nor should you worry about it. Life is meant to be enjoyed. So approach this with the attitude of, I’m going to take control of what I put in and on my body and expose myself to, as much as possible. A little awareness and action is better than none.

Lorraine lists a website in her book with a database of all of the common cosmetics, cleansers, and lotions we use. What’s so cool about that you might ask? Well it has a number rating for each item based on how toxic it is. Yep. And let me tell you, it was an eye opener. Even the “natural” things you are buying might shock you. The ratings include reproductive organ toxins as well as cancer toxins, allergies & immunotoxicity, and overall health hazards.   http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Here is a quick look at their toxin number rating system:

0-2 Low Hazard          3-6 Moderate Hazard          7-10 High Hazard

Just to give you an idea, here is a list of things that I use on a regular basis that I researched on their website and their toxicity number level:

Organix Shampoo & Conditioner  = 4-5

Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Cleanser = 5

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub = (new on the market, not listed yet)

Dessert Essence 100% Pure Jojoba Oil = 0

Yes To Cucumbers Sensitive Skin Calming Night Cream = 2

Kiss My Face Olive & Aloe Lotion (I use it for body lotion) = 5

Colgate Optic White (They didn’t have the specific one, but all of the other whitening toothpastes are the same score) = 5

Bare Minerals Foundation in Medium = 2 

Bare Minerals Mineral Veil SPF25 = 7

Bare Minerals Blush = 2

Bare Minerals Eye Shadow = 4

Almay Line Smoothing Concealer for the Eye = 9

Maybelline Lash Stiletto = 4

(If you have trouble looking up your specific item, just type in the brand name click on the brand, go to the left and click on what item it is..and then scroll down the list to see if it is rated.)

So, before you go gather all of your toiletries and cosmetics to check how awful they are for you, remember the goal is to minimize your exposure to unhealthy things, because truthfully, it is impossible to avoid them 100%.

When you’re finished looking everything up  you can go to the upper tool bar on the website and click on whatever you like to find lists of products from different companies that are non toxic. You can order them online, or print them out to see if you can find them locally.

And just in case you aren’t freaked out enough by the toiletries you’re using, here’s another website she listed so you can look up all of the chemicals in the other every day products you use.

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/

*But even before you do that, you may want to self medicate with a nice cup of soothing tea and my Fig Pillows. Because we all know that pie crust pretty much makes anything better.

Fig Pillows with Fig Glaze & Almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

*Makes 30

2 Portions of Gluten Free Pie Dough

GF Flour For Dusting & Rolling

Trader Joe’s Fig Butter

Powdered Sugar

Almond Milk

Pure Almond Extract

Raw Almonds, finely chopped

Roll out one portion of dough and slice into 30 squares with a sharp knife.

Add about a teaspoon of the fig butter to each square. Then, roll out the second portion of dough and slice into 30 squares.

Using a flat knife (I use a frosting spatula), take one square of plain dough, pat it out just a little with your fingers.

Take the patted out piece of dough and cover the fig jam carefully pressing down around the sides. Score each side with a fork, poke once in the middle so air can escape, and place the fig pillow on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the remainder of the dough until they are finished.

Bake in a preheated oven for 22 minutes and remove to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling, make a glaze with the powdered sugar, fig butter, almond milk, and pure almond extract (about 1/2 tsp.), and finely chop about 1/4 cup raw almonds.

Leaving the fig pillows on the cooling rack, drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with nuts.

A Slice of Life – My Corner of The World

Yesterday was heavenly. I decided to set aside my “to-do” list and just really focus on enjoying the day. I spent the majority of it outside. As you may have read (a thousand times) in earlier blogs, we have been waiting a very long time for summer weather. Well, it’s finally here and I want to soak up every possible minute of it. Plus, sometime soon, our life is going to get very busy, hectic, and even more stressful than it is right now. I want to enjoy our little “sanctuary” in the backyard before we move.

I sat out in the yard, sunned myself, and read for a while. This is one of the books I’m currently reading:

Have you ever read her books? They are based out of South Carolina in the “low country”. I love books about the south. They are amazingly comfortable and soothing, and make me daydream about living in a rich, flamboyant, atmosphere filled with southern tradition. I haven’t read a book of hers that I didn’t like.

While I was reading, I also sipped on this, because it was quite hot yesterday…in the low 90’s. I just simply added a scoop of the Lemon Sorbet I made a couple of days ago to a glass full of spring water and ice. Wonderfully refreshing!

After I read for a while I spent more than two hours on the phone with my husband’s sister, Alysia, catching up on life in my neck of the woods and hers. We don’t talk all that often, so when we do, it’s usually a phone marathon.

After I hung up, I thought, “I should probably do a load of laundry and run upstairs and make the bed…” But I stopped myself. Nope! Today is a NON “to-do” list day. You will go outside and enjoy the weather!  And I did.

I ran across this bible study on the internet and it arrived two days ago. I really love to learn about why we are the creatures we are and how our bodies work. It’s good to learn about yourself and feed your mind and soul. But I don’t have to tell you that, do I? I think that people who blog already have that figured out. We love to learn from others who blog, see what they are experiencing in their lives, and share a bit of our own world.

I already know quite a bit about PMS and Perimenopause after working for a Naturopath for several years. Plus, I somehow was flung into the whole perimenopause thing when I was nearing my 39th birthday. Fun, fun. I love to arm myself with knowledge. I don’t like to treat symptoms without knowing the why’s and how’s and how I might manage things naturally. I bought this study because it was the first time that I had seen someone approach such a touchy subject for so many women (92% of women suffer from severe PMS and Perimenopause symptoms) that not only dealt with the medical aspects but also with the spiritual. We are feeling, emotional, living, beings after all. It only makes sense.

As I lounged in the yard I looked over at Abigail and for the millionth time, I reminded myself how thankful I am for loving pets in our life! They ask for so little and want to give so much. Abigail is always right by my side, just patiently waiting to see what I will do next, ready to assist me in her sweet little way and follow me from task to task.

Romeo was inside, lounging in air-conditioned comfort. He had quite enough of the bees chasing him around.

So basically, that was the majority of my day. Yep, I sat in the yard and soaked up the summer pretty much all day long. 

A little visit with our son in the evening also blessed my day. He warmed my heart yesterday when he told me he wanted to “surprise” his Dad with a little something. My husband has already taken the job back east so he has been having to travel extensively. Life is stressful when you have to change time zones twice a week and are only home for about a day and a half. We have a motorcycle trailer that needs to be sold before we move, but it needs a little work. Of course my husband’s hectic schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of time to be spent on things like that. And that type of thing is way out of my realm of expertise. Brandon wants to spruce it up for him and put it up for sale as a surprise because he knows how busy his Dad is. I thought his suggestion was loving and thoughtful and frankly, it made an almost perfect day, absolutely perfect.

He’ll be over today to work on it. So I will pause for now…and add a bit more later today. I plan on making this day an extension of yesterday. A little cleaning and “to-do” list things here and there maybe, but otherwise, I’m just going to embrace the day and take it a minute at a time and see what it has to offer.

This was my breakfast this morning. A simple breakfast to go along with my easy-going day. It’s half of an Udi’s bagel with organic almond butter and my Aunt Judy’s (she’s really my husband’s aunt, but I have adopted her as my own) unbelievably delicious, homemade, strawberry jam.

I also made an organic vegetable salad to munch on for the next couple of days. The weather is hot and as much as I know I need to start whittling down that organic meat in the freezer…I just haven’t been feeling like making a big to do about dinner for me, myself, and I. A salad is just right.

Getting the trailer ready…he’s so resourceful! How do you just “know” how to wire things and what to buy and how to do it?

He has always been a fixer and loves to create things in the garage. When he was little he built a sprinkler system in his sandbox. Seriously. All the tubing and everything. All he had to do was screw a hose to it and it was a sprinkler system for his sand box army base.

He was born with computer knowledge and has been doing computer repair work on the side for years…and he just turned 20. When he was in the 5th grade, my paper shredder died. He took the entire thing apart, rewired it, put it back together and it worked like new. Since he was in middle school, he has been our computer and technology guru. He wires things for us – new lighting, cable, he was the one who set up our entire television system with all of it’s boxes and speakers and whatever it’s called, while I stood there handing him tools that he pointed to, that I didn’t even know the names of.

Two weeks ago, he completely rewired and re-plumbed my mother’s sprinkler system. He’s amazing…if I do say so myself. And believe me, he didn’t get these skills from his father and I!

Like a lot of young people, he’s a carb addict. So to thank him for his hard work on his Dad’s trailer, I baked him a delicious pan of corn bread that he could slather with honey and butter. You can find the recipe here. 

This is the cornbread I was telling you about this morning, Smidge. To. Die. For.

Sometimes we just absolutely need to set certain things aside temporarily so we can truly appreciate life. We all have our responsibilities but let’s be truthful, a lot of things that take up our time can really be saved for another day.

The little things in life are sometimes what have the most impact. Like taking the time to enjoy the weather and read in your back yard. Learning something new. Being thankful that you have a loyal pet by your side to love on. Sitting in the garage for the afternoon and watching your “grown” son work on a surprise for his Dad. Just taking life minute by minute instead of rushing, rushing, rushing… and instead, being thankful for every little thing and savoring each slice of life.

Camera Surgery & Lemon Sorbet

You may remember from my last post that my camera stopped working on our day trip to Lake Chelan. My son called Nikon a couple of days ago and they wouldn’t really walk him through anything besides just the bare basics of trouble shooting and wanted me to mail my camera to them. And of course, the basics didn’t fix anything. The “basics” are basically put in place for a monkey. Remove the battery, put it back in…blah, blah, blah. All things any thinking person would have already tried.

The plus is that at least the camera is smart enough to give a warning message and it had something to do with the shutter release. So, armed with that tiny and vague message, I got on the internet and started searching.

Lo and behold, numerous other people have had this issue and there was lots and lots of information. Some helpful, some not. I finally found a page where several people had fixed the issue themselves. So I thought, why the heck not?

See that little red wheel? Evidently it’s what makes the shutter mirror (thingy) move up and down. According to the people on the forum, it’s stuck and  just simply needs a bit of oil.

So I started the task of removing a lot of little screws and drawing diagrams so I wouldn’t forget where they belonged. It seems that Nikon thinks that each screw needs to be a different size.

Once the camera was apart and I got over the fear that I was doing something horrible and irreversible, I could see plain as day the “red wheel” everyone was referring to. I moved it back and forth gently and sure enough, it was stuck.

I used a tiny paint brush to paint the smallest amount of sewing machine oil on the wheel, moving it around in a circle as I went. Then, held the battery in place, turned the camera on, and clicked the button a few times. Sure enough, the shutter clicked back to its proper position.

Whew! It worked! I was quite proud of myself.

Then I put the whole thing back together in the order that it came apart, positioned myself for a shot…and couldn’t see through the view finder. Hmmm….why is this not working?!? I did everything they told me to do…crappola! Am I going to have to send this thing into Nikon after all? Dangit!

Oh, whoops, might help if I remove the lens cap…Ha!

Now I’m back in business.

Quick Lemon Sorbet

You will need a Vita Mix or other heavy-duty blender.

Juice of 4 Lemons

Zest of 2 Lemons

1/2 cup – 3/4 cup Light Agave Syrup

4-5 Cups of Ice

Add all ingredients to blender in order. Blend until smooth and mixture comes together. Taste for sweetness. I like mine somewhat tart so I stuck to 1/2 cup agave syrup.

A Mish Mash of Life

Roasting a chicken at 9:30 AM in 90 degree weather…why not?

I’ve been addicted to these three seasonings lately.

We do have central air conditioning, but with several days in a row of very hot weather, even the air conditioner let’s out a sigh of relief when I am able to shut it down and open the windows after dark. I can’t complain about the weather, other than I don’t like having the house closed up during the day. I love the sun and love the heat. The dogs have been rather lazy though and I’ve had to coax them outside to get some sun and fresh air. Seems they’ve become a little spoiled in the cool house.

The reason I’m roasting a chicken at breakfast is because upon returning home from our camping trip, I realized that we have a freezer full of organic meat. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, if our house sells quickly (God willing!) we won’t be able to take it with us because only a minimal amount will fit in our trailer freezer as we trek across the country from Washington to New Hampshire. And as I’m sure you know, organic meat is not cheap. My poor husband is only home for two dinners a week lately if that, so if the house sells “quickly” the math doesn’t add up if I keep making myself toast for dinner while he’s gone. So I decided yesterday that I would roast a chicken so I could have roast chicken and vegetables for lunch and then use the remainder of the chicken for “other” dishes throughout the week while he’s gone. And of course, maybe a little special snack or two for the pups. Then I’ll have to force myself to make a proper dinner instead of toast or crackers and goat cheese at least a few times a week so I can whittle down our freezer meats and fish .

So as I mentioned, we are selling our house…we haven’t had any bites yet. A lot of people have looked at it on various websites, but no offers have come in and no one has been by to look at it! The Realtor assures us it’s because of the wonky weekends around the 4th of July holiday with people traveling and such. He assured us that because we priced it reasonably it will sell within 60 days. It’s only been 13 days, so maybe I’m being a little hyper… I’d like to believe him but my inner, anxiety ridden, worrier mechanism that I try to beat down and keep at a low murmur, thinks differently. We’ll see. I would really rather not move across the country in the middle of the winter.

I’m trying of course to see this entire thing as the huge blessing that it is. The move is exciting, buying a new home is exciting, seeing and experiencing new things is very exciting. But the details and keeping the house spotless at all times, and the thinking, thinking, thinking, and not knowing…that part is highly annoying! So this morning, I’m throwing caution to the wind. I sit here still in my pajamas with raccoon circles under my eyes because I was too lazy to remove my mascara last night after a Home Owner’s Association meeting from hell, my feet are up on the stool next to me while I type, and my house is not spotless. See how rebellious I am? (ha) If I have to clean at the speed of lightning and rush out of here like my hair is on fire with dogs and cat in tow so someone can look at our house, then so be it. Today, I’m doing what I want to do. Which so far hasn’t amounted to a whole heck of a lot!

I mentioned up above that we recently returned from a camping trip. It was amazingly relaxing. My husband and I both knew we needed it, but I don’t think we knew how much we really needed it. We were in bed by 10:00 every night, slept in until 7:00 every morning. I usually hop out of bed around 4:30 or 5:00 each morning, so I guess I needed those extra few hours! The sleep was blissful. The rest was blissful. The scenery was gorgeous, the bird and the water sounds were like salve to my soul. I only made it home with one mosquito bite. Life is good.

And the sun and heat. Oh. My. Goodness. We’ve endured a long, wet, winter and spring and waited a long time for the sun to finally show itself.

We were able to sit in the evenings in front of our trailer and watch Osprey hunt in the water, watch swarms of birds fly around feasting on the evening bugs, and were even able on a couple of occasions to get a good look at a Bald Eagle. On our last morning, just up from the end of our trailer a mama deer trusted us enough to allow us a look at her new fawn. It was adorable. Bouncing around and enjoying the morning. My camera had broken the day before…so no pictures of mama and baby. More about that later.

Of course for us, food is a big part of camping. I didn’t take pictures of everything and didn’t write down recipes for my food or my mother in law’s, but this will give you an idea of what we were enjoying.

These are Cecelia’s pickled onions from thekitchensgarden. I used rice vinegar, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and garlic cloves to season mine. And by the way, I love her blog. I look forward to it every morning and it’s the first one I look for out of about 30 that I follow. Take a look through some of her posts and read her About Me section, and you’ll soon understand why I look forward to it every day.

This is a typical macaroni salad, except mine is made with gluten-free pasta and olive oil mayo. Make sure you make extra dressing if you’re not going to serve it immediately. Then, stir in the reserved dressing right before serving.

These are organic, gluten-free and dairy free, handmade sausages from one of our local specialty stores. I was not impressed. But then again, when the butcher assured me they were gluten-free and dairy free and I asked for two of the chicken and jalapeno sausages he said, “Now those have jalapeno, is that gluten?” Yikes. I wanted to snort and roll my eyes, but I didn’t. I asked kindly if I could look at their ingredient list.

This is a cherry pie, of course. I wasn’t extremely impressed with it either. I haven’t made a pie in a very long time and it seems I’ve gotten a bit rusty. Looks like I will have to bake a nice pie once a week until I can get it right and get my mojo back. I didn’t hear anyone argue with that logic.

This is a Namaste brownie. It’s by far the best allergen free brownie mix I’ve tried. And I have tried a few! You can freeze them and they are just as delicious as when they are fresh.

This is one of my favorite summer cocktails. Meyer’s Dark Rum, Knudsen’s all natural Tangerine Spritzer, the juice of 1/2 Clementine, and the juice of 1/2 Lemon. I call it the Yummy Rummy.

This is my homemade creamy sheep’s milk cheese salad dressing. When you can’t eat dairy, a creamy salad dressing on your greens is heavenly every once in a while. It’s just sheep’s milk cheese, olive oil mayo, rice vinegar, ground pepper, and any seasoning you like. This time I used the Bragg’s seasoning I pictured above and dill.

I also made another dressing/spread that I called creamy pesto. It was just a few spoonfuls of homemade pesto, olive oil mayo, and lemon juice. It was incredible both as a salad dressing and a spread. Unfortunately I was so intent on eating it, I didn’t get a photo.

This is my mother in law’s meat spaghetti sauce on top of gluten-free noodles. Her sauce is wonderful. Rich and flavorful and making me wish I had some right now! I wasn’t lying when I said I hadn’t accomplished much today. It’s now 6:30 PM and I am just adding photos to the post. I did manage to get out of my jammies and remove the raccoon look though. I also did some laundry, and squeezed in a little nap. It was a heavenly day…

This is just one of many delicious lunches we enjoyed. A BLT with avocado, red onion, and creamy pesto spread.  The salad has a mixture of the creamy dressing and homemade thousand island dressing I made. You can Google the thousand island, it’s so easy! That’s my favorite gluten-free beer.

We took Chloe camping with us for the first time. It will be a good precursor for the trip back east. It wasn’t as weird or as difficult as I thought it was going to be.

Evidently, this particular cigar has received the highest rating ever for a cigar. I know absolutely nothing about cigars, but my husband assures me this is true information. And no, that is not my hairy arm! This is just one of many cigars my husband was able to enjoy on his much-needed vacation.

Here he is, kicked back and enjoying an evening of chatting with his parents. I can’t quite believe we will be married 21 years on the 25th of July. Time goes by so quickly! I am truly blessed and thankful that he is mine.

Every morning I woke up to this out of our bedroom door, which we left open every night so we could hear nature and see the moon and stars. Wonder what the view is like from up there?

The only bummer of our trip was that my camera broke right when we headed into Lake Chelan (about 60 miles from where we were camping in Winthrop, WA) on our third day. I’m sure you’ve noticed that some of my pictures above are not exactly up to par. Something was wrong with my shutter and as I was getting my camera ready and experimenting, I was only able to get these two shots right as we got out of the car. And then it wouldn’t work. (Enter sad violin music here…)

After this last photo, the camera completely seized up. Certainly makes you appreciate the finer things in life. The little pocket Kodak is not quite the same experience.

Lake Chelan is absolutely gorgeous. The water is deep blue and you can see right through it to the light-colored sand below. It’s a 50 mile long, glacier fed lake. Just gorgeous. I could have taken so many wonderful pictures for you! But such is life. I guess it’s a good reminder that we probably depend on these gadgets instead of memory far too much. So for now, I will have to live with our little pocket Kodak until my camera is repaired.

We toured around the town for a bit, ate lunch, and then went wine tasting at a few of the local wineries. If I couldn’t take pictures…then my next agenda was to sample a lot of wine and do some stocking up of west coast wines before we make the big move. And stock up, I did. From Tsillan Winery, Lake Chelan Winery, and one of my all time favorites, Lost River Winery. I hope I make friends quickly in our new home, my husband doesn’t drink. If not, my posts might take on a new look if I have to drink all this on my own!

Well, the day has sped by and it is now 6:41 PM. I think I’ll head out into the yard and mill around. It has dropped from 94 to 93 so it doesn’t look like we are going to get much of a reprieve from the heat until later tonight. I’m tired of the house being shut up tight, so I’ll open it up and just be thankful that summer is finally here.

I hope you all had a lovely and relaxing Independence Day!

Easy Pasta Night

I’m noticing that since we made the decision to move and have put the house up for sale, that “easy” has been my go to word for a lot of things.

It’s weird when your house is up for sale because you feel like you can’t do anything that takes a lot of time, makes a big mess, or makes your house smell weird. After all, the goal is to get someone to think they need our house more than another one, and as fast as possible. Add to that the hours spent on the internet looking for houses in areas of the United States that I’ve never even been…that makes for a tad bit of stress and yes, we are really tired. My husband has to do extensive traveling for work and I hold down the fort here, handle the details, and take care of the dogs. So when it comes to meals lately, “easy” it is!

Chicken & Italian Sausage Pasta Bake

You can find the french bread baguette recipe here.

*Makes a 9×11 dish of pasta, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

1/2 lb. Ground Italian Sausage (a lot of sausage is made with dairy & gluten, make sure you check)

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, sliced or cubed

A Good Shake of Red Pepper Flakes

Olive Oil

4 Cloves of Garlic, minced

About 4-5 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, chopped

About 3 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano, chopped

About 6 Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

1 – 14.5 oz Can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes

1 – 6 oz Can of Tomato Paste

About 20 oz Of Your Favorite Pasta Sauce (I used Newman’s Marinara)

About 3/4 of a bag of Gluten Free Spiral Pasta, cooked just before aldente (mine called for 15 minutes of cooking time and I cooked it for 10-12)

Daiya Dairy Free Mozzarella Style Cheese

Galaxy Foods Dairy Free Parmesan

Drizzle a large saute pan generously with olive oil. Add the sausage, chicken, and pepper flakes. Saute until just done.

Add the garlic, basil, oregano, mushrooms, and saute until garlic is beginning to brown. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes.

Spoon the pasta into an oiled 9×11 pan. Add the contents of the saute pan, and the tomato sauce and fold to combine.

Taste for seasoning. I added a couple of teaspoons of dried oregano. Sprinkle generously with dairy free parmesan, and spread a handful of the dairy free mozzarella over the top.

Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and cover tightly. Bake for 25 minutes, remove foil and broil for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Serve with gluten-free french bread and dairy free butter.

Ready, Set, GO!

We are embarking on a new and exciting life adventure! Completely stepping out of our comfort zones, leaving our families, and moving almost 3,000 miles from where we live now. Several weeks ago my husband accepted a job on the east coast. If everything goes according to “the plan” we will be moving from Washington state and living in New Hampshire within a few months. My husband grew up in a military family and has lived in quite a few places over his lifetime. I lived briefly in Montana and Wyoming when I was younger, and have lived in Washington State for the majority of my life. We are so excited to see and do new things! Not that we won’t miss our “comfort zone”, I’m sure that will be hard. But the opportunity to move somewhere completely different from what we’re used to, meet new friends, enjoy the area…that’s exciting! Nerve wracking too, but that’s to be expected.

It’s 2,810 miles from our home in Washington to the area we are going to live in New Hampshire. Basically, we’re moving from one corner of the United States to another.

Our adventure kicked into high gear last Friday when we met with a Realtor. Up to now, this whole thing felt a little surreal. Today, we are in full motion. I’ve been sorting, deep cleaning, organizing and luckily there’s only a few little things we had to do to the house. The Realtor wanted me to dress it up by setting our table with flowers, wine glasses, and fancy settings. Evidently it’s called “staging”. Did you know you can hire professional Stagers? What a fun job that would be!  Smidge, you would be perfect for a job like that and you could make millions!

I removed all the family photos (insert sad face here), we replaced a strip of carpet that leads downstairs to our unfinished basement, moved some furniture around, and we need to turn every light in the house on when we know they are coming for a look-see.

Bare walls where about 50 family photos used to hang.

We also have to hide the dog crates and the cat accessories. Evidently a huge percentage of people who are looking for a new home think they are allergic to pets, but they aren’t. Those are the Realtor’s words, not mine. I’m kind of clean freak, so it won’t be too difficult to keep the house pet free…except for the pets! We have to collapse the pet crates and cram them under the bed every time they show the house. They’re huge. Wednesday it took me a half an hour to hide everything before the photographer arrived. You wouldn’t think something so simply constructed would be such a pain to maneuver! I can’t complain too much though. It’s a small price to pay if we want the house in tip-top shape and to appeal to all types of buyers.

Trust me, they look simple but it’s a huge task. I was sweating when I was done wrestling with them. Guess this will turn into my new workout if we’re lucky enough to get a lot of viewings over the next couple of months.

With my husband working, I’m pretty much on my own when it comes to figuring out how I’m going to get everyone out of the house for showings. Needless to say, I will have to be more organized than usual. I’ve come up with a cleaning plan every night before bed to make things less hectic if we have to scoot out of here early the next day. Who knew so much went into the whole process? I see a busy and crazy future ahead of me for a while…

Natural cleaning products have become my new best friend. Have you tried this brand? I love them, they smell so good! They all smell great but my personal favorite is the furniture spray. It’s smells just like the cherry and almond smell of Jergen’s lotion my grandma used to wear.

Seth, the Realtor, gave us lots of compliments on the house and its decor, said it would photograph very well and then told us that he just sold a house right down the street from us……..in EIGHT days. So he didn’t see any problem in getting it sold. Um, eight days? I looked at him and said, “Holy cow, I don’t know if I can do 8 days.”  We haven’t even found a house in New Hampshire. We know the basic “area” we’d like to live, but other than that, nada. Luckily Seth has “connections” and has set us up with a Realtor in New Hampshire. Soon the emails will begin rolling in and we can start weeding through properties. That’s when the fun and excitement begins!

If you know me, you know that I like a plan. I like a step by step plan on how life is going to go and how we’re going to deal with it… Ha! Funny, right? I might like things that way, but I cannot remember one time when it actually turned out like that. I’m learning to take a lot of deep breaths. And use a couple of drops of these every now and then. They’re homeopathic calming drops. Just enough to take the edge off of an overly exciting day. All natural goodness for your body.

I’ve also been snacking on these amazing vanilla meringues lately and squeezing in breaks to read and relax. The meringues come from Trader Joe’s and are to die for. If you haven’t tried them, you must! And go quickly, because I think they are a “featured” product which means they won’t always carry them. Be careful. They’re addictive.

When you commit to something this huge, you just have to roll with the punches. It will be crazy, but we’ll consider ourselves lucky if the house sells quickly in this market. And if it takes months to sell, then we’ll regroup and deal with that too!

We’ve lived in this house for 12 years, the longest we’ve ever lived in one home. Luckily, I’m not a hoarder and I’m very organized. However, even though I’m not a “stuff” keeper and like to have everything in its place, I was still able to come up with several bags of things for The Salvation Army. It’s funny what we keep around thinking that it will be used, only to have completely forgotten that we even kept it!  Everything is in its place so that when the movers come, things will be delivered to New Hampshire hopefully without the chaos of having to search through boxes for our bare necessities. That may be wishful thinking. We’ll see.

So for now, it’s still a bit of “hurry up and wait”. But that’s OK, because once the house sells, things will go very, very, fast. We’re going to try to squeeze in a nice camping trip with the in-laws next week and now that our weather is clearing up, we’ll plan for as many lazy Saturday evenings as we can in the backyard with delicious snacks and cocktails. I have to admit, we love our yard and we will miss it. We’ve tried very hard to make it a relaxing and beautiful area where we can “hang out”. Hopefully the next folks will enjoy it as much as we have!

Then, when the time comes, we’ll pack up our trailer and go on an adventure TO our adventure as we travel across the country to our new home. Google Maps tells me that it will take us 46 hours to drive there. But luckily, we will be taking our time and soaking in the country on our way and will meander, enjoying every bit of scenery on the way to our new home. I’ve never traveled past Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. There’s a lot of country I’m excited to see on the way to New Hampshire!

Did I tell you I’m planning on taking you with me? Stay tuned, I promise, it will be an exciting summer!