Recipe Share Wednesday: Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

(from Taste of Home)

  • Italian turkey sausage links (4 ounces each) casings removed 
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • garlic cloves minced
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach coarsely chopped
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons minced fresh basil or 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese optional

Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.

Add tortellini; return to a boil. Cook for 7-9 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; add the spinach, basil, pepper and pepper flakes. Cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted. Serve with cheese if desired. Yield: 6 servings (2 quarts).

NOTE: I use regular Italian sausage, not turkey. I omitted the red pepper flakes.

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Schedules and Routines

Hi, all!

I must apologize for the sporadic blogging lately! It has been a very busy couple of weeks and – honestly – I’ve been too tired to get to it most days. I’m still waiting for my Easter nap. I know I’ll get it one day! 🙂

That being said, having a schedule or routine (whichever you want to call it) for my day certainly has helped keep me mostly on track with things at home. Menu planning helps tremendously as well. So I thought I’d share my basic weekly schedule with you. Keep in mind that this is just a goal. Some days it’s just a dream. We all have those days and that’s okay. But having a regular schedule/routine can keep you from falling so far behind that you feel you can’t catch up. Everyone’s schedule/routine will look different, of course. It depends on so many things: kids, work, kids, work. 🙂

Anyway, here it is.

Every morning I get up and have my coffee and do my devotional first thing. What a great way to start your day! I walk or run 2-3 times a week and do yoga on Friday mornings. Gotta take care of yourself!

Mondays

  • Work: 9:00 – 2:00
  • Laundry: whites
  • Kitchen: Empty out leftovers

Dinner is usually something in the crock pot since it’s a work day.

Tuesdays

  • Work: 9:00 – 2:00
  • Laundry: towels
  • Kitchen: Clean counter tops and wipe down all knobs and handles on cabinets and appliances; sweep and mop.
  • Clean bathrooms.

Wednesdays

  • Laundry: dark clothes (jeans, t-shirts, etc.)
  • Living Room: vacuum and dust
  • Menu plan for next week.

Thursdays

  • Laundry: delicates
  • Vacuum and mop downstairs floors.
  • Pay bills and balance checkbook.

Friday

  • Laundry: sheets, work clothes for hubby if needed
  • General “straightening up” in the downstairs and light cleaning as needed.
  • Grocery shop (Least. Favorite. Thing.)

Saturday

  • Rest up for Sunday.
  • No housework if possible.

Sunday

  • Work: 7:30 – 12:30
  • NAP!!
  • HOME group every other week

Every night before going to bed, I take a few minutes (just 5-10) to prep my coffee pot for the morning and “pick up” the living room and kitchen so I don’t have to wake up to a mess. I’ll also wash up any dishes in the sink if needed.

Since I enjoy gardening and yard work, neither is on the “chore” list. I do those when I can or when I need to. Every day includes time to sit down and have coffee and I always read for about 30 minutes before going to sleep.

So that’s how my weeks usually go. Take some time this week to look at your days and see where you can streamline your days and spread out your housework over the week so you don’t have to spend your days off tackling a giant pile of laundry or cleaning the entire weekend. Where’s the fun in that?

Y’all have a great week!

Blessings,
Lynne

 

Recipe Share Wednesday: Meaty Cheese Manicotti

Meaty Cheese Manicotti

Found this recipe in a Southern Living magazine or cookbook…not sure which. It is a bit of work – but, boy is it worth it!

Meaty Cheese Manicotti

1 (8-ounce) package manicotti shells
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup white cooking wine (or dry white wine)
2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (14 1/2 oz) can Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan (or Italian blend) cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cold water. Drain. Place on wire rack (like a cookie rack) and set aside. (Put rack over a dish towel.)

2. Brown ground beef and onion together; drain and set aside.

3. Add wine to skillet, stirring to loosen any browned bits; bring to a boil. Add whipping cream and seasonings, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; cover and set aside.

4. Combine meat mixture, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Spoon (or stuff by hand) mixture into 12 manicotti shells; arrange shells in a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

5. Uncover, and pour cream mixture evenly over shells; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 10 more minutes. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

Weekly Challenge: The Bathroom

Good morning!  Let’s talk about your toilet.

How’s that for a blog opener? Just makes you all happy inside, doesn’t it? I’m going to be honest right now. I hate to clean the bathrooms. HATE. IT. I mean, no matter what you do – unless you clean it three times a day every day – some nastiness is going to creep in there. Soap scum? Yuck. With all the geniuses in the world, no one has invented a soap that doesn’t leave scum? Really? Mold that makes it onto your shower curtain liner seemingly overnight; yes, even on those “mold resistant” liners. Toothpaste in the sink. Male individuals in the family who just can’t quite hit the target, if you know what I mean.

A funny aside. Every time I complain about my kids’ bathroom (the boy is 22; the girl is 20), my son blames my daughter for the toilet being a mess. I look at him with what I’m sure is a look that indicates my complete disbelief. I certainly hope so. How many times do I have to explain this one? She is physically unable to do that to your toilet. Doesn’t own the “equipment.” Thus, she goes downstairs to another bathroom. It’s all you, buddy. All you. The 147 bottles of hair products in the shower….now, that’s her. But the toilet. Nope. Sorry, dude. You’ve got to clean THAT. (If someone could please explain to me why guys can’t hit the “target” which is a large, gaping hole…I would appreciate it.)

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Most of us, I hope, do at least the bare minimum to keep the bathroom somewhat tidy every week. (I’ve seen episodes of “Hoarders” where that’s just not true.) I hope you keep it at some level beyond that of most public restrooms. Don’t get me started on those. Eww….

Thankfully, this is one of those times when once you’ve deep cleaned the bathroom, maintenance is relatively easy. Fifteen minutes is plenty of time to do maintenance cleaning once or twice a week. So we are addressing deep cleaning today, y’all. Grab your rubber gloves and let’s get to work. Seriously….get the gloves. You don’t want cooties, do you?

Each of these daily projects should take 15-30 minutes. Unless you have a palatial bathroom and a tub that is the size of a small swimming pool. I do not. I have two smallish full bathrooms and one “powder room.” The two that I am responsible for take me less than 30 minutes a week to clean completely. The one upstairs in the kids’ domain…that one takes longer when I’m brave enough to go there. I don’t get that brave very often. My daughter can usually only take so much and then she cleans it. Praise the Lord! (We figure we’ll just gut the upstairs when (if??) they move out.)

Gather your supplies: cleaners (for the tub/shower, toilet, mirror, etc.), scrubbers (brushes, rags, toilet bowl brushes, etc.), GLOVES, a new shower liner if needed

Shower Liners: If the shower liner is moldy beyond what a quick run through the washer can remove, replace it. They don’t cost that much. Truly, you can get them for less than $5. I don’t waste my money on the more expensive, “mold-resistant” ones anymore. Mold is gonna grow in there. I’d rather replace a $2 liner every month or so than a $15 one. But maybe that’s just me. I wash my liners at least twice before I toss them. I always buy white ones. I wash them in hot water (they are made for the shower after all) on the gentle cycle with a little detergent and some bleach. This is one of those cases where I do use bleach. (Vinegar might work, but I haven’t tried it.)

NOTE: If there is dirty laundry in your bathroom floor, remove it! NOW! Dirty laundry only belongs on a floor if it is being sorted for washing. I doubt you do that in your bathroom. Otherwise, dirty laundry belongs in a hamper or a washing machine. Wet towels that will be reused belong on a towel bar or hung over the top of the shower. They do not belong on the floor. Nothing belongs on the floor except the bath/shower mat and the trash can.

Day #1 – The Tub & Shower

Remove everything from the tub/shower – shampoo, soap, razors, etc. and set them aside. Throw them out if they are empty or you don’t use them.  Once the tub/shower is cleared of all stuff and the liner is washing, spray the whole thing down with your cleaner and let it sit for about 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, clean the mirror, empty the trashcan and replace the trash bag. Then scrub that tub/shower, top to bottom. Put some muscle into it if you need to. Banish the soap scum! (That may require quite a bit of manual labor.) Rinse it out well with warm water. To clean the grimy shower head, make a paste of baking soda and water and spread it liberally on the shower head with a toothbrush (an old one – not your husband’s) and let it sit a minute then scrub with the toothbrush. Put white vinegar in a container that you can fit around the shower head (a bowl or even a ziploc bag) then “dip” the shower head in the vinegar for a minute or two. Hear that fizzing? That’s cleaning in action. Run the brush back over it to get the loose stuff moving. (If your shower head is easily removable, take it off to clean it and follow these steps.) If your liner is washing, wait for it to finish, then rehang it. Straight from the washer…do NOT put it in the dryer! (I usually put mine in a basket to carry it through the house so I don’t have to worry about it dripping on stuff.) Just shake it out over the tub and rehang it. If you have glass doors on your shower instead of a curtain, clean it as you clean the rest of the area. Run the shower for a couple of minutes and move the shower head around to be sure everything is rinsed. If you forget to rinse, the cleaner may leave a slippery spot on the bottom of your tub or shower. You may slip on the slippery spot the next time you get in there. Be warned. Use glass cleaner or vinegar to polish up the knobs, bars, etc. – anything that needs a little shine. Close the curtain. You are done. (If you have a separate tub and shower, this may be a two-day job. If you have tile, well, you know about the grout scrubbing so plan on time for that.) Remove your gloves and walk away.

NOTE: Use your exhaust fan when running the shower; if using the tub, run it for a few minutes after. Close the shower curtain after EVERY shower and shake it to get as much water off as possible. After EVERY shower. Leave the bathroom door open so air can circulate. This will help cut down on the mold growth. Leave them steaming behind closed doors and those mold spores will reproduce like dust bunnies!

Day # 2: The Toilet

Might as well get it over with. Yuck. Gross. Eww. GET YOUR GLOVES! Everyone knows how to clean a toilet. It’s just that no one likes to. (If you do, I have three in my house that you are welcome to come and clean any time you want.) Lift the lid and seat and scrub the bowl. Get up under the rim really good. Really good. It’s amazing how dirty it gets under there. Amazing in a not good way. Scrub, scrub, scrub. Flush. Then clean the outside of the bowl, the lid, the seat, the side, the tank, the place around the bolts. All of it. Make it shine! Flush again for good measure. Again, remove your gloves and walk away.

Day #3: The Vanity or Sink Area

If you have a vanity with drawers and storage, then yes, now is the time to clean them out. Throw out old makeup…including your light blue eye shadow from 1985. Please. Clear the drawers of everything and return only what you use and need. Toss the old stuff. Toss it, I say! My towels go in the storage part of my vanity not the linen closet which is, mysteriously enough, located upstairs. Either way, fold them neatly and stack them neatly. Do the same with washcloths and hand towels. If you have a monogrammed hand towel that is nothing but holes held together by threads that you’ve had since your wedding day in 1990, you can throw it out. Yes, Aunt Martha gave it to you, but I sincerely doubt she remembers or cares. Get rid of anything you don’t use that may be hiding under there…hot rollers you never use, the third and fourth hair dryers, etc. Organize what you do need so that you can find it when you need it.

Once you’ve done that, clear the counter top of all the stuff on it. Hopefully, some of it found its way into storage already. Clean the counter top. Replace ONLY the stuff that NEEDS to be on the counter. For example, your toothbrush holder and soap dispenser. (If your toothbrush holder is totally disgusting especially in the bottom, put your toothbrushes in a cup temporarily and run it through the dishwasher or give it the baking soda/vinegar treatment. If you have to keep your makeup on the counter top, find a pretty tray or basket to “corral” them in and put them back in it when you’re done with them. Get one for you and one for your husband if you have room. Hopefully, his won’t have makeup in it. Anyway, try not to crowd the counter top or no one will notice that it’s clean. Clean the mirror again if it needs it and shine up the faucet and handles on the sink. Wipe down the front of your vanity and clean the knobs and handles. Replace the hand towel with a clean one. And, once again, walk away.

Day #4: Windows, Blinds, Curtains

If your bathroom has none of these, proceed to day #5. Rejoice! Cleaning blinds is another one of my least favorite things. Mini-blinds are torture. We finally were able to replace all of our mini-blinds with honeycomb light-filtering blinds (or something like that) that just need to have the vacuum brush run over them once in a while. Yay! But clean your blinds in whatever way it is that you do that. Wash your curtains if you can. If they aren’t washable, take them down and shake them out or put them in the dryer on the no heat cycle to get the dust out. Clean the window sill(s). If you get the urge to clean the window itself, go for it. I rarely get that urge. Spray some good-smelling stuff that won’t hurt the fabric on the curtains/window treatments. Walk away. (This is an easy day.)

Day #5: The Floor and Baseboards

Grab your vacuum cleaner…I hope it has a corner/edge attachment thingy. Vacuum the tops of the baseboards and the floor. Get behind the toilet and in all of the corners. Get under the edge of the vanity. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Then mop. Mop, mop, mop. Get a warm, soapy rag and wipe down the baseboards. (And, again, if you have tile, there’s the cleaning the grout thing. If you can wait until spring cleaning, feel free. If you want to do it now so that your bathroom is completely completely clean, have at it.)

Can you smell the clean? Can you see the clean? Are you fixtures sparkling? Can you see the floor? Can you see your counter top? Can you find your brush?

Replenish your toilet paper supply…get a pretty little basket to keep extra rolls in so they are there when you need them. Add a candle and a small plant. Hang a pretty picture. It doesn’t take much to make any bathroom a little spa-like so that when Calgon takes you away, you actually want to go there.

These same cleaning techniques apply to the kids’ bathroom, the guest bathroom, the “powder room.” You can do the daily items in each bathroom every day, or you can tackle one bathroom per week. It’s entirely up to you based on how many 15-minute periods you want to spend each day cleaning a bathroom.

Just know…once this is done, maintenance is a breeze…and a lot less yucky!

Have a blessed Monday Tuesday!

Lynne

P.S. Take “before” and “after” pics and share them with us. I dare you! Double dog dare! (Who can resist that challenge?)

Hello, all!

Hello, everyone!

Hope you’ve all had a good week!

It’s been a cold, wet day today. Before the rain started, I got to do a little gardening and things are blooming all around. Makes me happy. I picked my first basket of kale so we had soup tonight: white bean, kale and carrot. And a pan of homemade cornbread. Yum! And, yes, I may have eaten cornbread before soup. It’s just so good straight from the oven smothered in butter (not margarine!). 🙂

Our church’s big egg hunt that was scheduled for tomorrow had to be postponed until next Saturday because it’s supposed to REALLY rain tomorrow. Sigh. So I feel a lazy day of reading and drinking coffee coming up.

I’m thinking, thinking, thinking about what the weekly challenge will be next week. If you have something you know you need to work on, let me know and we will work on it. 🙂

Have a blessed night!

Lynne

Recipe Share Wednesday: Beef Tips & Gravy (slow cooker)

Hi, all!

Hope you’re having a great week! It’s halfway done already. I played in the yard a little today and filled a couple of planters. My niece is spending the night tonight and she wants to help me in the garden, so we’ll do some of that tomorrow…if it warms up. I’m hoping!

Here is a ridiculously easy recipe for beef tips and gravy. I didn’t want to pay for beef tips, so I used stew beef chunks. And I don’t usually used premade soup, but I did yesterday because it was easy and…well, it was easy. 🙂

So here it is:

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef tips (or stew beef chunks)
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can beef broth

Place beef in slow cooker. Mix soup mix, soup and broth together in a bowl. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Bam! That is all! I didn’t even thaw the beef. I served this over rice but it would be great over mashed potatoes as well.

This recipe has been hubby-approved. 🙂

Blessings!

Lynne

It’s Back to the Real World

Hi, everyone!

Well, here we are back after our spring break and it’s back to reality. Sigh. I really like the beach life…I could live it quite easily. Still, it won’t be quite “normal” until after Easter. Then I, for one, am ready to tackle some small home improvement and organizing projects. Still working on the purging a little at a time. I’ve not had a lot of time to spend on that, so that will continue as well.

We got our first salad greens from the garden yesterday. Everything else is up and doing well. Except the dill which is a mystery. One that I likely won’t solve. The first rose and first iris are blooming. Everything is green tinged with the yellow of pollen. But I hear the rain right now, so maybe some of the pollen will wash away! 🙂 I know the garden will appreciate it.

We really enjoyed our vacation last week. Having just finished Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, we went on vacation with our envelope of cash and my crock pot. We only ate out one day and we came home with some cash left. Not a lot, but it was more than $0. And nothing was charged on a piece of plastic. It felt pretty darn good.

Since there is much to do to get ready for Easter Sunday, there will be no big challenge this week. I plan to get back to that next week.

Now, I’ve got to get back to Dancing with the Stars…yes, I’m a fan. 😉

Lynne

 

Greetings from Hilton Head…and a recipe that’s just too easy!

Good morning!

Hope your day is off to a great start! We were up early (well, some of us were) and off to the beach for the sunrise this morning. It was beautiful! And a little chilly!

I have a pork tenderloin in the crock pot this morning and will be making barbecue sandwiches and crash hot potatoes for dinner. We did our only eating out of the week yesterday.

This is how I make my barbecue. Put a pork tenderloin in the crock pot (I used a 3.5 pound one today) and cover with water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove from the crock pot and shred. In a baking dish, mix with your favorite barbecue sauce and bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve on buns. Easy peasy. Sometimes I divide the meat in half and do two different sauces.

Anyway, y’all have a blessed and beautiful day!

Please pray for Teresa (with whom I started this blog) as her dad passed away this week. Love you, Teresa!

Lynne

 

DSC_0565

Vacation, Day #1

Cloudy with rain off and on today. Took a guided nature walk, did some outlet shopping (which I do NOT enjoy), had dinner and am about to lay down and read. Pretty good day. 

Have a great evening!
LynneDSC_0076

Good morning!

Good Sunday morning!

Hope you all had a great week last week! I got to spend some time with my super sweet nephew and enjoy some sweet snuggling and play time. Then Kathryn and I were off to Charleston for the Cooper River Bridge Run which was yesterday. We beat our time by a couple of minutes and we didn’t die….we’re happy! 🙂

Today, my family is off to Hilton Head Island for a week of rest and relaxation. I’m pretty darn excited. I’ve got my bag of books ready to go. Give me a hammock and a book – and coffee, of course – and I’m pretty darn content. (By the way, you shouldn’t drink coffee in a hammock unless you’re very skilled. I am not. It’s quite messy.) I’m making my meal list and packing my Crock Pot. I had made homemade bread, but it didn’t make it through the weekend so…

Y’all have a blessed day! You’ll hear from me this week. Maybe I am skilled enough to hold a computer while in a hammock. We’ll see.

 

Lynne 🙂