{Food} Potato Sausage Kale Soup


Have I got a great recipe for you today! But first, some back story. Last year (and even the year before too), Doug would occasionally have the afternoon off and he'd bring me and my coworkers lunch from Olive Garden. This was a treat because we work about 25 minutes away and we never go, but since Doug was coming back, he'd bring us a nice treat. And this is where we fell in love with this soup. And then I needed to find the recipe, pronto. 

The original recipe, which I normally follow, is found on Organize Yourself Skinny. Go check it out if you want. 

I doubled the recipe this time so we had extra for lunches. As I cooked the sausage, I added baby portabella mushrooms and let them soften. I then added the rest of the ingredients like she says, changing for taste. I did add extra potatoes and kale, because I'd rather have a chunkier soup than runny. But feel free to change it up - her original recipe is pretty good too, I just wanted to try it with mushrooms! I use regular pork sausage too because that's what we buy. 

And now I know what I want for dinner again! 

{Upstairs} Mini Gallery Wall


I finally got around to taking photos of a little gallery wall I've been working on upstairs. It needs something else to finish it off to the top left between the wooden frame and the circle art but I haven't found it yet. But, I think it looks better than an empty wall, right?!?!

I already had the framed photo of the mountain from a trip we went on years ago to Colorado. You can see it on the table, below. The frame with the kids' pictures was bought at TJ Maxx and I had it laying around, waiting for the right photos. The canvas was blank and I painted it with blues, greens and white to give it an ocean type feel. It may have some work done on it but it's a nice bit of color for now. The round flower art is a trivet my grandmother had from a trip to Europe. It's beautiful in person and I never knew how to display it. I simply put some command strips on the back and put it up there. 

What do you think? Better? It needs some more color but I'm still adding in blues and greens. The other side of the window needs help too but this room is the last room on our list, even though its all a part of our master suite. You can see this wall as soon as you come up the stairs, which is our entire master bedroom area. This little area is our TV area but has been boring until now. 

{Lily's Garden} October Update

Hello Monday!

Yesterday was Nate's second birthday and we had a bunch of family and friends over. It was a great way to celebrate our baby boy, who is growing up way too fast. Today was his wellness check and he's a solid 30 pounds and almost 3 feet tall. But with that check up, I decided to take the day off work. Once we got home from running errands, I decided to put Nate down for his nap and take some pictures on this very beautiful fall day! And since I've been seriously lacking in garden updates (I know, I know, the bathroom needs it too!), I thought I'd take advantage of some down time. 

We'll start the tour through the trellis that is overgrown with moon vine and morning glory. 

To the right of the trellis is our butterfly bush. It's a miniature variety because I can cut it back every year and it'll grow to a nice 5-6' across but only 2-3 feet tall every year. 

My Gerber Daisies. I just have to have them in my garden.

Looking towards our small, cute garage that needs some TLC. The lantana went crazy this year and I'm pretty sure this is all just one plant. 

I know for sure that this moon vine was just one plant and it took over. It and the lantana are a great place for the local bunnies to hide under. 

I will always have coneflowers and daisies. They are perfect color all season long. 

Looking back towards that lantana from a slightly different view point. This was our mini evergreen that is over 3 feet tall now. There's another one, maybe 8-10 inches tall behind the coneflower. 

The moon vine has gone crazy. It's gone from our trellis, through the hydrangeas and towards our dining room window almost. It just keeps growing! 

An oak leaf hydrangea now covers most of this corner. There's a climbing hydrangea behind it that'll cover the trellis. It's reached the trellis and has grown maybe 1 more foot since the beginning of summer, so it's about 7 feet tall now. The oak leaf also hides two other smaller hydrangeas. 

Two of the hydrangeas that I planted two years ago, while pregnant with Nate. There's the mop head, to the left, and the lace type variety (cannot think of the name!) to the right. 

And because it is fall… here are our pumpkins! I just love the green variety and the orange one will be a jack-o-lantern soon. The little white ones are the kids' and they always have to have small ones. 

We bought the bi-color mum at a local festival. It's in one giant pot and is just beautiful in person! 

How's your garden? We're about to have to cut back things here seeing as it's almost November and frost has been knocking on our door lately. We've been lucky so far but I know it's about time! 

{Bathroom} Cabinets

Happy Wednesday!

On Monday night, my parents came over for dinner (my mom made it AND then brought it over for us!) and my dad hung up our two new cabinets. I posted the image on Instagram and am absolutely in love. My dad built them from scratch after the two we ordered from Home Depot came in broken. These are so much more special and better because they are REAL wood and made with love from my dad. I think if/when we ever move, these babies are coming with us! 

And then there's this hardware. My dad's brother and his wife have some of the best collections of all time and they are always keeping odds and ends that they find or buy. We were given these two old cabinet catches and look at how pretty they are! They are super old, as in maybe over 100 years old, and look great with the bright white cabinets. We did buy new hinges online and then specialty screws from our local hardware store so they were the right size and color. To refresh your memory, check out what our old bathroom looked like before we tore out everything

I promise to take better photos soon (as in not at night because that's the only time I'm home lately). There's two more things to add to our bathroom and then it'll be ready to actually decorate and have fun with. I'm hoping we get it finished soon because Nate's birthday is Sunday and we're having everyone over. 

I'm now into figuring out what to do with the one "big" (as in blank) wall in our bathroom. Maybe some art or photographs. I may live with it empty for now just to see what comes up some day. Suggestions? 

{At the Farm} Early Fall Hikes

Missouri in the fall can be beautiful and full of color. This isn't going to show that as we went a few weeks early. However, we explored a part of my parents' property we hadn't gone to in a long time (or at least I hadn't been in awhile). My dad has a tractor so we rode on the back in a little mini trailer. I'll have to take a photo of what it really is at some point.

Down the gravel road first to visit neighbors. Artie, my parents black and white dog, came with us. We left their hound mix at home. She's a short, little thing that just can't keep up with us. Or come back when called.

It was a little chilly that day, unlike a few other days since, but just enough to actually feel the chill of what's to come. Nate got to try out his new hat. 

Into the trees we go! Give it a couple more weeks, if that, and it'll be bright orange and yellow! 

Poor Miss Lily, sporting a bruise from school. But the girl loves her wildflowers and would grab them as we drove by. Luckily she didn't reach for the poison ivy! By the way, did you know poison ivy turns a very pretty red in the fall? It's like a little reminder of "stop, don't touch!" (as if we needed a reason!).

Nate's almost 2. Which means he's into everything that goes - cars, trucks, buses, trains, and tractors. This is his happy face for two reasons - he's on a tractor ride, his first really, and he's with his grandparents (my parents). This sums up his feeling on most everything we did that day! 

And since it's in the woods, there are mysterious growths and things all around. Doug spotted this weird fungus under a fallen tree. 

My parents have a couple small creeks that run through their property. I love going to look at them and how nature has taken its toll over the years. This little circle cave, above, was big enough for a small animal to bury into.  

And we actually found an area that held water! I had never seen this area before so it was so cool to see. There were actually small fish, lots of frogs, and some craw dads (crayfish) in it. We haven't had a big rain awhile, we were wondering how long the fish had been in there. Some were close to 3-4" long. Next time I'm bringing a net! 

The side of the cliff, all full of layered rocky goodness. And moss too. 

The downside of early fall in Missouri? Ask poor Artie, and my mom who had to help him with the burrs. My dad has since gone and mowed a lot of the weeds down so when we go back, it won't be so crazy. But poor Artie was the worst of all of us. He also went farther than any of us, always checking on random farm smells. He was one happy dog though! 

Do you get to go outside and enjoy nature? Where do you live? 

We went to a local pumpkin patch this past weekend and look forward to more outdoor adventures at the farm in weeks to come. We still need to get some more rocks for our backyard herb spiral (it's a work in progress from our spring collection of rocks) so we'll be out soon. Hopefully once it cools down more to kill off bugs. 

I'll be back soon for a bathroom update. Hint: it involves our medicine cabinets! 

{Food} S'Mores Brownies

I don't know about you but I've been crazy about S'mores this year. I see them everywhere too, so they seem to be popular. 

Last week I decided we needed some brownies. And it was one of those needs that needed to happen right now! Or 10 minutes ago. So I got my supplies ready, tasted the batter and though "hmm… more chocolate!" so I added cocoa powder. And lots of it. 

That blue reflection? It's from my mixing bowl. I love cobalt blue! 

I cooked the brownies like normal, added chocolate chips and marshmallows while it was still warm and then baked again for a few minutes. 

But that didn't get the toasted brown perfection I was after, so I turned on the broiler. And let me tell you, our new stove does it quick! As in don't take your eyes off the oven quick! 

After this photo was taken, the s'mores weren't around very long. Well, they were, but they aren't as good once they're cold. Don't get me wrong, they didn't exactly go to waste. (Unfortunately they did go to my waist.)

Have you made s'mores brownies? I tried it once with graham crackers on the bottom but they didn't add anything to it so I prefer it just the chocolate fudge-y goodness of a great brownie recipe, extra chocolate, and marshmallows. Mmmm...

{Art} Peacock Pointillism

Visit my classroom art blog {Art and Main} to see the step by step colors of the peacock feathers! 

This was all done in tempera paint as it started out as an example for my students during our Pointillism project. I used the tempera paints the entire time, adding only one or two other paints when I was at home this summer (although I think I went over all of that because the colors were off). The tempera paints came in a set of 9 - white, black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. I mixed those colors to create what you see. 

{Lily's Room} Doll House Makeover

A few years ago, my awesome dad built Lily a dollhouse modeled after one from Pottery Barn. I think I wanted it more than Lily as she's never been huge into Barbies. She likes the show, she likes looking at them at the store, she says she wants them but then never plays with them. Umm..is she crazy?!?! I would have loved a house like this growing up! I had one of those kind of cardboard like ones that fell apart and then I ended up making a Barbie mansion all over the floor of our playroom. Imagination at its finest!

But, Lily doesn't play with her Barbies. And it always looked like the picture below… on a good day! The biggest spot on the bottom was the perfect spot to house the Barbie RV and the car stayed in the smaller spot, usually. But it ended up being a catch-all and then Nate would be his almost 2 year old busy self and get into everything. 

I posted a tour here to see what it looks like when I clean it up. 

When Lily mentioned not wanting the Barbies anymore and how she wanted it all for her My Little Pony dolls, I was on it. I can't get rid of the Barbies completely so they are now mixed in with mine in her toy closet (every kid needs a closet devoted to toys!). 

If you didn't notice with her room reveal I posted earlier this summer, you will know Miss Lily is all about My Little Ponies. She even knows there is a third movie coming out this fall and she wants all the ponies! She really likes the Equestria Girls version (the dolls you see above) more than the actual ponies. 

I kept the Little Pet Shop house on the top because it fits nicely and she has a lot those characters. I'm not sure if she'll continue playing with them or not, but we'll see how she plays with this now. It looks so empty but I know she'll add to it. She's such a creative little girl and she likes to make things for them. I did keep the IKEA doll furniture in the middle row for the smaller dolls to sit on. 

What do you think? Do you have little girls? Are they into Barbies or My Little Ponies? 

Well, Hello!

Where, oh where, did the summer go?!? I posted my summer recap in the last post {read it here!} but I didn't intend that to be the last post for weeks. 

One word: School. 

August sucked me in with it's rows and rows of school supplies and before long, it's Labor Day weekend, grades have been imported, and we're all wondering why time flies. And football. And pumpkin spice everything… except I don't like pumpkin spice.

Miss Lily had her first day of school and she couldn't have been more excited! 

This Keen Kutter cabinet has a great story to tell and it's just gorgeous, so I'll post more about it later. Hint: It'll be in our bathroom! 

The kids loved this tree frog visitor at my parents' house and it's sitting on a metal toy crib that Lily just had to have. 

One of my favorite flowers after a nice summer rain. We need more rain, which reminds me I need to water some plants! And do a garden tour… once I weed it all! 

Speaking of gardens… the growth this garden has seen is insane!!! The sweet potato vine in the center took off and so did those crazy yellow sunflower flowers plus the red flowers too. You can hardly see some of my flowers! 

I started back at work, teaching art to 130 middle school students. This was one of the first projects completed and this kid continues to amaze me. He's an autistic kid with the best imagination ever. 

Lily started soccer. She's one of 5 kids on her team, three girls and two boys. She loves it! 

On the way home from soccer practice, we saw this hot air balloon. Our house is on the other side of the school and I wish I could have gotten a shot of our house with the balloon but it had already disappeared by the time I got there. 

I turned 33 and my parents took us to a new (to us) restaurant in a neighboring town. Delicious! That steak?! It made the best leftovers because that was a huge piece! 

We took dessert to go from the restaurant and Nate really enjoyed the cheesecake. So did I but he's cuter. 

We spent yesterday at my parents' house, enjoying our last swim in their pool. Their cat, Mo, came to visit me while I was looking for more monarch chrysalis. Isn't that crystal rock awesome?!?! My mom has the best collection. She's been collecting her whole life. Her dad, my grandpa, was huge into rocks as well and part of his collection is even in a Harvard museum!! 

So yeah…even though it doesn't seem like I've been busy since not much is "blog worthy", I still stay crazy busy! This doesn't even include everything but has been my "highlight" reel of the past three weeks! 

We do have plans for this long weekend to work on our bathroom. My dad is making us two medicine cabinets so as soon as those are installed, I'll post about them. We have some painting to finish and then the bathroom should be done soon. We have plans this fall for some yard work (finishing our herb spiral for one!). Who knows what else will go on here! 

What's going on with you?

{Summer} Summary

Oh Summer, where did you go?!? 

My plans did not all get done. They were a little long and optimistic. 

However, three big things did get done, and three more got started. So let's focus on those, ok?

The bathroom. Wow did it change!!! If you're new here, you'll have to look back on all the bathroom posts. I started with inspiration and plans and went through many of our days from demo and rebuilding. Now it's nearly finished, completely working, and ready for some decorations! 

If the bathroom wasn't on this list, the backyard flower garden would be my favorite thing this summer by far. It was once an overgrown pile of weeds, grass and home to the dog house that was never used. Although the dog house still isn't used, it's got a great little front "porch" (or "curb appeal"??).

Almost all of this was done for free, with the exception of the mulch and a few flowers. I need to do an updated posts now that the flowers are filling in nicely and the gutter run off (aka dry creek bed) is finished. 

And the first project that I kicked off summer with was painting the front door's trim black

It was just a primed white and I love how the black frames the door that I stripped (see the original here) and the screen door that my dad made us (isn't it great??!) I'm not sold on the teal mailbox. It's better than the bright yellow it was prior to this paint change but I'm thinking it needs a new color. Navy or black are the two choices I'm going between. 

And projects we started, but haven't completed, yet, are:

1. The backyard play place for the kids. Three words as to why it's not completed: It. Got. Hot. As in hit you in the face, sweat from the front door to your car, type of hot. And the bathroom remodel took over. 

2. The shed. I primed the walls after removing some of the rust. It's been a big improvement but the roof needs major TLC. One problem - getting up to the roof to paint. It'll involve ladders, scaffolding, and patience. And maybe getting over a fear of falling off said ladders.

3. Herb Spiral. In the garden photo above, on the far back right corner is a flat tree stump. We had to cut down a tree years ago and we will continue the line of stones with creek rocks and make an herb spiral garden. Doug got started but ran out of rocks. We would get more but we're getting them from my parents' farm and there's no way to mess with the plants this type of year. So in the fall, we will get the tractor and go find more rocks in their creek bed. 

Honorable Mention: Gardening - we haven't had the best luck, but our tomatoes are slowly coming on. We're working on some plans for next year that'll hopefully see a giant increase in what we grow, so more on that later. We did have success with raspberries (three brand new plants), cucumbers, and now my chocolate cherry tomatoes. Hoping for more luck next year with our blueberries, strawberries, and whatever we decided to grow more of. 

Other projects don't finished (or even started):

Painting our front and back porch floors (and possibly ceilings). BUT… my dad bought a power washer, so this will help us when we get around to it. And the front porch provided great cover for tools and a workspace for the bathroom remodel. 

Organizing the office… yep, didn't happen at all. Halfway through the summer I decided that I should makeover our basement to a craft room/art studio/my office and although that hasn't happened yet, it gave me a good reason to not focus on my upstairs office. My office will eventually turn into Doug's office when he goes back to school for his master's. 


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