sausage, sweet potato and spinach bake

The other night Matt was planning on grilling some sausage and making some kind of dish, Lord knows what, but it was pouring outside. And while he is one to grill in all sorts of weather, he just wasn't in the mood for rain after his adventures this past weekend. So enter this dish. Could be made with kale, yes. Could be made with mozzarella instead of cheddar, yes. But it's delicious either way. The sweet potato just adds something, for sure.
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes - peeled and cubed
  • 16 ounces of Italian Sausage - cut thin and round
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 cups finely chopped spinach or kale

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat coconut oil in a large, high rimmed skillet over medium high heat.  Add the sausage and sweet potatoes and allow to brown on all sides.  Test sweet potatoes for softness.  Add the spinach or kale and toss.  Transfer to a 9x9 or you can even keep in the skillet if it is oven proof.   

3. Bring broth and 1/2 cup of milk to a low boil.  Turn heat to simmer.  Whisk flour and 1/4 cup of milk together till incorporated.  Continue whisking broth and milk mixture as you slowly pour in flour and milk.  Add 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese.  

4. Pour sauce over sweet potatoes, sausage and spinach.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling. You can even throw the dish under the broiler (again if oven/broiler safe pan/dish) for a couple minutes to give it a nice brown crust - just make sure you are watching it. 
What do you guys think? A fan of the bake or no?


deck dream list

Other than ripping out the entire deck and starting from scratch (not gunna happen, like ever), I have some little updates and things on the dream wish list that will freshen up our deck for our summer of pool fun (are you tired of hearing about the pool and summer yet? I'd apologize but I know it won't get any better).

//clear globe lights// We have had these out on our pergola for a few summers now and there is just something about globe lights that gets me and feels like summer. See also they make me think of the Mumford concert. //outdoor rug// Our current deck has seen better days and the stain isn't something I'm entirely crazy about so a rug would just be an inexpensive (and easy) way to remedy that. You know me and my thing for grays. //outdoor lighting around the pool// I have a vision of these all tucked into the garden surrounding the pool itself. I'm also hoping the bugs will be drawn down to them and not into our pool water. //outdoor speakers// Yes oh please! How we have survived even one summer without an outdoor speaker is beyond me. We normally just put our iPhone into a bowl and live on a hope and a prayer it doesn't get wet. I love how this speaker looks like a rock too! Extra fun! //new chair cushions. maybe even pillows// Our current cushion situation is dire. They are very neutral and have seen many a sunshiney day. I'm excited to add some color out there! //palms! pots and pots of flowers!// Oh how great would it be to have palms all over the place? I'm not sure how I would winter them over but there is just something very vacationey about them yes? I'm also plotting my flower and window box/pot situation out there... lots of potato vines and bright colors for sure. And then there is always the hope that my lovely lime tree with make a comeback this summer!//

So what else? Just trying to make the deck even more amazing, is where I'm at. What are some staples you guys must have for your summer deck days?


skinny alcoholic summer beverage

I would have absolutely have called this a skinny margarita but well, we used vodka. Not that the caloric intake is that different between tequila and vodka but we just happened to have vodka in the house.
Okay so anyways with the install of the pool and see also our general wish to cut back on certain unhealthy aspects of our diet (carbs and sugars mainly) we were on the lookout for a fun new summer drink that would be low on those fronts. Enter this drink. Call it whatever you will...

- Crystal Light. We used raspberry lemonade here but any flavor would work based on your preference. These pouches we have are enough to make one pitcher. So like four of those to-go packs if that's what you're using.
- 24 ounces of Diet Mountain Dew (I know I know, super unhealthy, soda, yuck, but pick your poison right?). This is about two can's worth.
- Vodka (or tequila) to taste. This drink really masks the flavor of alcohol so just keep that in mind otherwise, party at your house. Matt just pours and counts to himself. To a slow ten....
- Juice of one or two limes
- Water
- Ice
- Salt or sugar for rim if you see fit
In a pitcher you just mix the Crystal Light, the soda, alcohol and lime juice and then top off with water, leaving room for ice.
Matt prefers to add this horrid Mexican flavor thing to the rim of his margaritas and well, these are close enough to that for him.
Anyone else have any fun "go-to" low calorie/sugar/carb options for summer adult beverages? I'm all ears....


our pool is up and our backyard is a muddy mess

That is the God's honest truth. But allow me to back up.

Matt had planned on installing the pool himself. All the excavating, leveling, setting up the walls, you name it. However after some consideration he decided perhaps having professionals do it would be wiser? Professionals who were a bit rough around the edges and chain smoked the day away, but guys who's sole legal profession is putting up pools. And we are just so thankful that we decided to go that route.

And we are well aware that it's nowhere near pool season in these parts but the other option was waiting until the end of May and we have so much else we need to do out back that we thought sooner rather than later. Ideally come Memorial Day Weekend we will be sitting pretty on our new deck or floating in the pool with not a thing to be done... So last Friday, in the rain, our backyard went from a nice big slab of green.... to a holy crap that's much bigger than I thought above ground pool and some green around the edges. 

I took these photos from the same spot in my dining room throughout the day, obviously it twas a bit steamy in the morning there...
Buyer's remorse is a real thing my friend. But we couldn't have really gone any smaller because then what's the point, right? We can have my entire family in there (all 15 of us and you better believe I'll try it. That includes you John.) and still have room to spare so I know it's good. I do. But it is just. so. big. I keep driving by the back of our house like that emoji with the red cheeks and the wide eyes? That one. Me. 

Landscaping and mulch and giving the grass some time to recover will help ease all these things, I know. And I'm sure eventually I'll stop walking by a window, see the pool and have my eyes bulge out. That'll stop. Probably when I hear my children's squeals of joy whenever it warms up enough for them to use it.

So many people to thank I feel like I'm at an award's show! Thank you to my dad for doing all the electrical work! And thank you to Rob for coming and using his Donk capabilities in helping move landscaping. And thank you Colton for donning your super boots and moving sod. And thank you mom for watching the kids for us on Saturday! And thank you Matt for toughing it out in the mud as well landscaping and edging and moving dirt and more dirt and mulching! Thank you! Thank you! Come swim anytime!

And don't you all worry, there will be a finalized backyard update post once things are looking all pretty once more. I know you were all concerned.



Thoughts upon exiting church yesterday when I asked them what they did at Sunday School...
Dominic, age 2 years: Played with toys. Trains. Toys. Yup. I want fishies. Trains. Fishies! I want fishies!!!! Mommy! Mommy! I want fishies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David, age 4 years: Uh I builded like a rectangle? And we sang and colored a paper. That's it I think. We learned about the Bible. About Jesus Bible tells me so little Bible tells me so. They knocked down a building because they wanted to build a new one and that's it mommy. The Bible tells me so.....

Letty, age 6 years: The book said, actually the Bible, the people they walked for a really long time. Then the people knocked down the building and the other people was so happy but the old people were sad because they like the old building. I forget what their names are. I sit next to David when we sang songs. He gave me a hug and a kiss. We builded a tower and we used a block I mean a rectangular prism and some dice and we builded the floor first and then we went upper.

Past weekly shots found here.


buy me some peanuts...

We went to this event last year and so of course when it comes around again I don't want to miss it... Free baseball and beer? Well okay not free beer, but free ball. And even while I am no sports enthusiast I am an enthusiast of exposing my kids to all sorts of adventures. Sports included I suppose. And this year we were joined by my sister and her family and my sister-in-law and her daughter! I bring all the family to all the things! The more the merrier! Which is always true, I think, when it comes to family.

We didn't do much as far as activities go, they had a lot less than last year. But it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, there were tables and chairs and beer and pretzels. What more could we ask for where baseball is concerned?
Letty informed me that it is her "signature" to take a photo of us whilst taking a sip from whatever beverage swe may have. I'd say she's right about that.


a field trip. on public transportation.

Last week David's preschool took a trip down to Pet Smart. On a public bus. I'll just let that hang there a second.... 

Needless to say I had to be a chaperone on this adventure. We lined up bright and early on a Wednesday and off we went, bus fare in hand! The ride down was fine... other than an unsavory gentleman asking far too many questions re: the children. Once there the kids were given quite the tour. Animals were touched. A new fish purchased for the school fish tank, etc. 
Once the tour was over we headed to the grocery store where each kid got themselves one whole cookie for being so good before we headed back on the bus back to the school.
It was chilly and had started to rain....

I don't know... Other than a bunch of unflattering photos of yours truly, I guess it worked out just fine. And now I know how to use our town's public transportation should I ever need to get down to Pet Smart.


our easter day

Our Easter Sunday was a doozy. At the end of the day it felt like it had been three days, at least. We had school the next day too so we had all our school night activities to complete to boot! 

Dominic gets up super early each morning and we thought he may want a crack at his Easter basket before his siblings but Captain Observant didn't even notice the baskets or the powder footprints in my kitchen. He's going to make some woman super happy in the future I just know it. When the big kids got up they broke into the basket enjoying their chocolate and magna tiles for breakfast, etc. The Easter Bunny also returned all the boys Hot Wheels that yours truly had thrown in the garbage in an irrational fit that resulted in nothing. The boys didn't miss them at all. Nice of the bunny to return them and all that though yea? Letty got an Ever After High book, some Shopkins and those loom rubber bands? You remember the ones. 
After I made the famous Sicilian Easter soup we all packed up half of our belongings, the water table and bounce house and towels and bathing suits and the like and headed over to my parents. Where we spent the next six hours playing outside, having an egg hunt, dying eggs, eating, and the like. It was certainly an odd Easter, being so hot, but it sure was a nice day and the sun felt fantastic!
Past Easters here, here and here!