Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Life has gotten busy and thus the blog has been neglected. Morgan and I had a wonderful anniversary celebration in Asheville, which I have been remiss in posting about. I’ve also participated in one of my favorite events, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Atlanta. Just this past weekend, Morgan and I were in a community theatre production of “The Bad Seed.”

It’s been a fun fall so far, but sadly all the activities have left me run down and battling a bit of a cold.

Lucky for me I have a wonderful husband to swoop in and save the day with the most wonderful soup to help me get over my cold!

Morgan’s Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Ingredients:

• 1 large or 2 small links chorizo sausage

• 1 small onion, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• half pound of kale, chopped

• 1 carton beef stock

• 1 large can diced tomatoes

• 1 can pinto beans, drained

• 1 Chipotle pepper, chopped

• dash of crushed red pepper flakes

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

• teaspoon oregano

• salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Brown chorizo in a large soup pot. Once sausage is browned, added in diced onions and saute until translucent. Add in minced garlic and kale and saute a few minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and seasoning and bring to a boil. Boil for five to 10 minutes then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

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A beautiful ratatouille

The Lush's Blush blog
Homemade ratatouille

I confess that my husband and I are not the healthiest of eaters. We like fried stuff, preferably topped with cheese and bacon. But sometimes you just have to eat your veggies!

If you’re going to eat veggies in abundance, why not also make it beautiful.

A few weeks ago my sweet husband made us the most beautiful vegetarian meal. It was so lovely we almost didn’t want to mess it up by serving it. But we did, and it was delicious. I confess that we did add a little cheese though!

The real trick to making this dish so beautiful is having patience to layer the vegetable slices. I imagine it would taste just as good though if you forgo the precise design and just dump them in the dish.

So here’s how to make

Morgan’s Beautiful Ratatouille

Ingredients

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine chopped onion, garlic, tomato paste and water in a large casserole dish. Place thinly sliced vegetables in a rotating pattern atop the sauce. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Cover with parchment paper and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Serve with pasta if desired and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

The Lush's Blush blog
Fresh veggies gleam with olive oil just before heading to the oven to make a delicious ratatouille.

The Liebster Award

liebster-awardI am honored and excited to have been nominated for a Liebster Award by the beautiful Bet over at Life According to Bet.

I often wonder if anyone ever even sees my blog, so to know people are seeing it and enjoying it, well, I’m just over the moon. I can’t thank you enough, Bet!

The Liebster Award is for new and smaller blogs to help them gain recognition within the blogging community. Each nominee then nominates 10 other blogs, so the award system creates a chain of great blogs for bloggers and blog lovers to check out. So here goes. . .

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated  you
  • Share the award on your blog
  • Answer the 11 questions you are asked
  • Nominate 10 new bloggers
  • Ask 11 new questions

My questions from Bet

  • What is a quote which you live by? – I have so many favorite quotes, but the one I try most to live by is from the Dalai Lama. We must never underestimate the power of kindess.  “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
  • The food which you can’t live without? – Hmm. . .bacon? I do love bacon. Also, home grown tomatoes.
  • If you had to live without two beauty products, what would the be? I never use primer, so I could definitely live without that. I probably could live without mascara also, as long as I have eyeliner still.
  • TV series which you would recommend? I love Death in Paradise, also Midsomer Murders, Murdoch Mysteries and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (all on Netflix in the U.S.)
  • Are you a morning or a night person and why? I’m really sort of a 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.kind of gal. Is that a thing?
  • Your dream travel destination. Anyway warm and tropical.
  • The nail polish color which suits you most? One of my favorites is from Butter London, called Tart with a Heart.
  • The item which you can’t live without? Probably my crystals and my wedding ring. I know, that’s two things. Sorry.
  • Your favorite cuisine? Being from the (American) South I guess I’d have to say just good ole southern favorites like fried chicken and biscuits and gravy, although I do love Indian cuisine, French and Italian as well.
  • Favorite way for you to chill out and relax? I’ve been trying to meditate some and I just started doing yoga, but I guess really my favorite way to chill out is just snuggling with my husband watching TV.

My blog nominees

  1. Jessica and Magnolia at Society of Moss and Lace
  2. Mary King at Orb of the Night
  3. Zeinab at ZeinabK
  4. Gigi at It’s a Sparkly Life
  5. Caitlyn at The Mrs Everything
  6. Melissa at The House of Plaidfuzz
  7. Jessica at This Season’s Gold
  8. Bri at The Hoodwitch
  9. Nicole at Life on Barrymore
  10. The Unwed Housewife

Some of the above nominees are folks I know personally and some are new blogs to me, but all have great content that I thoroughly enjoy. Congratulations blogger babes!

My questions for the nominees

  • What is your favorite childhood book or story?
  • What book(s) have you read lately that you love?
  • Tell me about the best meal you ever ate.
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • What is the most useful tool for you in your spiritual life?
  • What household item can you not live without?
  • What is your guilty pleasure song?
  • What are some of your favorite non-blog websites?
  • What is your favorite social media site?
  • If you could meet any historical figure who would that be?
  • Do you like glitter?

I’m looking forward to reading your responses. Love to you all! And thanks again to Bet for nominating me!

The Liebster Award!!

I was honored and thrilled to be nominated for a Liebster award. My post with nominees will be coming shortly! Thanks, Bet!

lifeaccordingtobet

So, my blog got nominated for the Liebster Award By the lovely Aubre from Aubre Nicole! I was so flattered and loved that she chose to nominate me, let alone read what I gabble on about every week! And I can’t thank her enough. The Liebster Award is an award for new and smaller blog channels to gain recognition within the blogging community! And I have to nominate 10 new bloggers for you guys to go and check out too! Then those nominations have to do the same thing ect, so it’s a big long chain!

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Super simply spicy enchiladas

DSC_0610You can certainly make enchiladas all the way from scratch, even making your own sauce. They are delicious. But sometimes, you want something a little easier and a little quicker.

My husband and I made these super simple spicy enchiladas last week and they hit the spot!

Super Simple Spicy Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (You could substitute ground turkey if you prefer.)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 4 oz can chopped green chilies (we used the hot kind, but you can do mild if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (or cheddar if you prefer, we actually used a little of both)
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • flour tortillas

Directions:

In a skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Once browned, remove beef from pan and drain the fat. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in pan and saute diced onion until golden brown. Add chilies and stir to combine. Return ground beef to the pan and half the can of enchilada sauce. Season with cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Put half the cheese into the beef mixture and stir to combine. Spread some of the beef mixture into each flour tortilla, roll up and place seam side down into a lightly greased 9 X 13 casserole dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top of rolled enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

 

 

Websites for the newly engaged

IMG_3541Christmas is the most popular time of the year to get engaged. I should know, as my husband proposed last year on Christmas Eve. The holiday season is so magical and it becomes even more special when your love pops the question.

So if you said “yes” this holiday season, here are a few of my favorite websites to get your started with the wedding planning process.

Before you delve into all these wonderful sites, however, I have an important piece of advice to share. The internet (and books and magazines in print) are full of literally millions of amazing wedding ideas. The bottom line, however, is that at the end of the day you need to choose things for your wedding that make you feel happy and are special for you and your future spouse.

Of course along with all these wonderful ideas can come lots of price tags. Don’t get too overwhelmed with all the wonderful ideas. Just find what is special for you and your wedding day is sure to be amazing!

 

Weddings Link Roundup

Here a few sites I used while wedding planning. Purchasing an actual wedding magazine was something I really planned to do, but with a scary budget already looking me in the eye, I couldn’t bring myself to shell out the $10 for the magazine.

The Knot is a good place to start. I will admit I found it a bit overwhelming though I did use it to make our wedding website.

The Broke Ass Bride is one of the cutest and most creative wedding websites I came across. I recommend the book and the website.

If you want to look at beautiful wedding pictures to start getting some ideas of what you want your wedding to look like, I recommend Style Me Pretty. 

If you’re style runs a little more to the eclectic, you’ll love The Rock and Roll Bride.

I also enjoyed The Wedding Bee. You can ask questions in the forum section and get real answers from other brides.

Getting help and advice from friends and family is really what made my wedding come together so beautifully, but the internet was a good place to start getting ideas.

Best of luck to all you new brides and grooms to be!

Blue healers

I’m missing the ocean today so I think I was drawn to pull these stones in various calming shades of blue to be my companions today.
Blue Kyanite – Aligns all chakras.
Campitos and Indian Creek Turquoise – Turquoise offers us so much, wealth, luck, healing and protection.
Blue Tiger’s Eye – A calming stone for strength and motivation.
Azurite with Malachite – The stone of the healer priestess. Awakens inner confidence and brings healing and abundance.
Aqua Obsidian – A stone to bring comfort and strength during times of grief and letting go.

A bride’s confession about thank you cards

I have a bit of a confession to make in the wake of all the wedding excitement, and hopefully my confession will serve as some helpful advice for other newly engaged or married folks. My confession is in regard to thank you cards. Now, from a young age, my mamma instilled in me the importance of sending thank you cards.

While I think there are many traditions or protocols relating to weddings that can be ignored based on personal preference, sending thank you cards is definitely not one of those things. And when I say thank you card, this does not mean a text message, an email or a Facebook message. This means an actual handwritten, personalized, stamped, mailed, signed, sealed and delivered snail mail thank you card. I personally think handwritten thank you cards should still be sent for any gift you receive for any reason, but bridal shower, wedding and baby shower thank you cards are a definite must!

According to the Emily Post Institute, a couple should send out thank you cards no later than three months following the wedding. However, etiquette also indicates that should that deadline pass, the cards should still be sent no matter how late. Weddings are a busy, hectic time and settling back in following the honeymoon can be crazy too. I imagine people are understanding when it comes to receiving that thank you card several months after the fact.

Another part of traditional thank you card etiquette involves mentioning the specific gift received. At

the bridal shower one of my bridesmaids took copious notes on who gave what. We registered on a honeymoon site that conveniently tracked each monetary gift we received towards our trip and even had a handy downloadable spreadsheet which included the gift and address of the person who gave the gift. I digress again here to say that I highly recommend a honeymoon registry, especially for couples who have everything they need as far as housewares.

After the wedding and reception my new husband and I got into a limo, our heads buzzing with excitement (and some champagne) and headed off for our honeymoon. At this juncture we were handed a stack of cards from our wedding guests. In our excitement we tore open the cards. To our delight there was money in the cards. In our excitement we did not even think to take note of who gave what. So my confession is that I cannot be as specific as I would like in some of our wedding thank you cards. What we should have done is put each card back together with its enclosed gift and waited until we were at the hotel so we could make notes on each gift. So, brides and grooms, if you can contain your excitement when you get into your limo to head off for the honeymoon, try to remember to do that.

A popular new tradition when it comes to wedding thank yous is to take a cute picture of the newlyweds either at the wedding or on the honeymoon holding a sign that says thank you. We did not do this, but I think it’s a really cute way to say thank you. We did however have a photo card made with one picture from the wedding and two pictures from our honeymoon. This is particularly nice to send to any family members or friends who may not have already seen the 600 plus honeymoon photos on your Facebook page.

When it comes time to send out those thank yous, just parcel it out a few cards at a time if you don’t have time to sit down and write them all out at once. Some may be particular that the addresses should be handwritten also, but that’s one tradition I do ignore. I suggest printing address labels for the cards, which can save you a lot of time. You can really save time if you sit down as a couple and do them assembly line style with one person writing out the cards and the other labeling and stamping them. I love printing out labels on the Avery site. There are cute designs to choose from so the outside of your card still looks very personalized. I even printed return mailing address labels that included a tiny picture of me and my groom.

Be a Bridezilla

11227042_10103026074978308_1185687063457009172_nFrom the time I got engaged last Christmas I got tons of advice from friends, family, even strangers, and read lots of wedding planning advice on websites and books. Since doing the deed myself a few weeks ago I now feel equipped to share my own wedding planning advice for those of you who may be newly engaged.

1. Be a Bridezilla. My favorite piece of advice I got was from my matron of honor who told me to be a bridezilla. That’s right BE a bridezilla. She said no matter how polite and accommodating you are, at some point during the process someone will probably call you a bridezilla anyway so you might as well go ahead and embrace it. Obviously you don’t want to be so bossy and overbearing you alienate friends, family or your new spouse-to-be, but the bottom line is, it’s your wedding and you should do it your way!

2. Do it your way. There are many traditions and lots of etiquette associated with a wedding. You may feel pressured to do a certain thing because “it’s tradition.” The most important thing though is that at the end of the day you are married to the love of your life. I spent a lot of time worrying (cause it’s one of the things I do best) about what people were going to think about our wedding. Would they be offended that we didn’t hand address the invitations or send formal invitations with the fancy little onion skin paper thingy. Again, the bottom line is, that’s not what is important about your wedding. If formal invitations are important to you, go for it. If not, find a unique, creative and less expensive way to let friends and family know. We chose to do a single sheet simple invitation style without all the frou frou extra envelopes and such. We also opted to do a dessert-style reception instead of a full meal. The most important thing is to include special things that make the ceremony and reception feel unique and personal to you and represents your relationship.

3. Ask for help. Wedding planning, even if you are opting for a smaller event, is still a lot to do. If you have an extensive budget you may decide to hire a wedding planner to help. If you, like me, are on a tighter budget, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. They are undoubtedly thrilled for you and will be happy to assist in any way they can. You never know what secret creative talents your friends may have. We got married in a wooden band shelter at a winery that was pretty plain, but my godmother turned it into a lovely wedding wonderland with white paper lanterns, beautiful ferns, some candles and flowers from the farmers market. It was unbelievably beautiful.
On a side note, one of the things I was told over and over when starting to plan for my wedding was that everyone would likely not send back their RSVP cards. We opted to include a stamp on our RSVP cards, but still did not receive them all back. Again, don’t be afraid to ask. If it’s getting close to your deadline and you haven’t heard back from folks, go ahead and give them a call and ask if they plan to attend.

4. Shop around. Again, if like me, you are on a tight budget, be sure to shop around for your wedding and decor items. The veil I had my heart set on at the bridal shop was $250, way out of my price range. I ended up finding an identical veil online for only $26. If you are crafty there are lots of neat do-it-yourself ideas for wedding decor. I also found a lot of beautiful things well within my budget on the site Etsy.com, which features individual sellers of handmade items. Another piece of advice I got early on was not to stress too much over centerpieces, people likely won’t remember them anyway. As our wedding was at a winery and our theme was peacock feathers, we had the simplest centerpieces of wine bottles with peacock feathers in them. Find something unique and simple that celebrates you as a couple or ties in with your venue for a neat, no-stress centerpiece.

5. As time goes by. Another thing I was told many times is that time at your wedding will fly by. You spend months and months planning and it all seems like a blur the day of the wedding. This was probably the most true thing I was told about a wedding. I was worried about feeling like we were having to wait forever once we got the venue, but that was not the case at all. Once I arrived, got into my dress, walked down the aisle, said “I do,” danced with my husband and my dad, ate a bite of cake and tossed my bouquet in the air — it felt like the blink of an eye.

You will undoubtedly have a wedding photographer and possibly a videographer and you will be so happy about those images and videos because it will give more time to relive the event in slow motion. Another great thing about getting married this day and age are smart phones. Most likely you will have friends taking pictures and videos on their phones and this is a great way to get a quick look back at the day before your official photographs are ready. Looking back at the pictures has been my favorite pastime since returning from my honeymoon.

To sum up my wedding advice, it is this: read all the articles you want, pin all the things on Pinterest, listen to what everyone has to say about weddings and at the end of the day, do what feels right for you and your future spouse and you will surely have a special day to remember for years to come.

An ode to pizza

Today’s post is quite simply an ode to pizza. Oh pizza, how do I love thee. Let me count the toppings. There’s that tangy sweet sauce topped with ooey gooey cheese and from there the sky is the limit.

For folks of my generation it seems like pizza always existed. I remember my Mamma telling me a story though of the very first time she had pizza. In East Bend back in the ’50s and ’60s there wasn’t a place to get pizza. She had her first slice at a restaurant in Winston-Salem called Vincenzos. I remember her always saying she never had a slice quite as good as that very first one. That restaurant is still in Winston-Salem and Mamma still used to enjoy it, but I think there was something special and magical about that very first slice.

As for me, I don’t remember the very first time I had pizza. I do remember making it with my Mamma sometimes at home, which was sort of a special treat. I always wanted to help carefully place the toppings on top.

For most people who enjoy pizza, they are very specific about the toppings they want and they seldom veer from their favorite toppings. For my dad, it’s always pepperoni, sausage and green pepper. I think pepperoni may be the variable most people agree on, but even that you can’t say for sure. I’ll admit that I actually prefer mine without pepperoni. I can do plain cheese pretty much any time.

In recent years I have begun to enjoy my pizza with a variety of more unusual toppings. I started out with ham and pineapple, then added bacon (have I mentioned I adore bacon?). Now I love all sorts of out-of-the ordinary toppings. One of my favorite pizzas at a local restaurant in Elkin has macaroni and cheese on it. Let me say that again, pizza with macaroni and cheese on it! Yes, it’s quite amazing.

My other favorite pizza hails from an area winery and it’s topped with brie and bacon (yes, again there’s the bacon!).

Pizza lovers don’t always agree on the same toppings (thank goodness for being able to do half and half) and they probably also don’t even agree on the best type of crust. Thin, thick, chewy or more on the crunchy side. The diversity represented by pizza eaters and their likes and dislikes is unbelievable.

The thing about pizza, in my humble opinion, that makes it so special is that it’s such a sociable food.

I think about being a teen and having pizza parties. It’s always an easy dish to pick up on the way to a friend’s house to watch a favorite sporting event on TV or a movie. I’m sure when you think back to fun times celebrating special events or just hanging out with friends, there is a good chance there were some slices of pizza being passed around. Making pizza at home can also be a fun meal to get the kids involved with helping cook dinner.

So next time you enjoy a slice of pizza, even if you want something like anchovies on it, think about the magic that is this delicious dish that brings so many folks together.

There’s a great recipe for homemade pizza dough on one of my personal favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman. She says on her blog that she channels Lucille Ball, Vivien Leigh and Ethel Merman. I just channel the Pioneer Woman, minus that whole cattle ranch thing.

As for sauce, I normally cheat and buy a jar of pizza sauce, but I think making my own sauce would be fun. Let me know if you have a recipe. As for toppings when making pizza at home, I recommend getting a little out of your comfort zone and trying something other than the traditional pepperoni. I love caramelized onions, prosciutto and spinach on mine. And of course, there’s always bacon!