28 October 2013

sausage and rice casserole

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

Casseroles have a bum rap. Kind of like meatloaf. Do they deserve it? Maybe, if they use cream of celery soup and Spam for a foundation. Not when they're piled with real food like this one. Time for redemption, casseroles.

It's not fancy-- and I'm no food photographer, so bear with my badly lit snaps before dinner-- but we do love it. If you have leftover cooked rice this comes together even more quickly. Actually, recipes like this would be a good reason to freeze rice. I should probably get on that.


Sausage and Rice Casserole
(inspired by a recipe from Bitchin Camero)

3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups dry brown rice
1 pound Italian sausage
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
5 cups chopped mixed vegetables*
2 cups shredded cheese**
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1) Bring stock and rice to boil in small pot. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour. Turn off heat and let sit, covered for 10 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, cook sausage in 1/2 tablespoon butter until no longer pink; slice into rounds and set aside.
3) Saute vegetables in remaining butter just until tender.
4) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
5) In large mixing bowl, stir together cooked rice, sausage, vegetables, and all remaining ingredients; turn into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

*This is a way for you to clean out the produce drawer. I always include a cup of diced onion and one diced bell pepper. Use anything that you think will taste good with the sausage, and that is still slightly firm when cooked-- broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, peas.
**Monterey Jack, cheddar, and Colby are all good.

25 October 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #11

Linked up with Conversion Diary . . . well, actually Clan Donaldson today.


"If you were an animal you would be a puffer fish wildly flapping its fins."
-well, husband, that's because you keep tickling me


Between BB's and Cherry Hill, I bought 150 pounds of apples this week. When perfectly good "seconds" are going for .45/lb, one must stock up. Little Mouse likes to nibble on half an apple while I can sauce or freeze slices.

Edit: I got at least 36 quarts of sauce, several crisps, and at least 8 quarts of sliced, quartered apples for baking and smoothies.


This is really funny (but some non-child-friendly language, so please be warned): The Primate Awards. I need a pygmy marmot, stat.


Time for videos of people being awesome! Sweet tap dancing and magical costume changes.


What does each country lead the world in?


Why are we so afraid of large families? "Who, knowing anything about human flourishing throughout history, would think that it’s impossible to be a good parent to six kids? Since when did having kids become something that Americans irrationally fear and loathe?"


And I wrote two more guest posts! Our love story, part 1 and part 2.

21 October 2013

you put what in your smoothie?!

Still loving the Blendtec. You'll find us dumping plenty of normal ingredients into our breakfast smoothies: yogurt, blueberries, frozen bananas (I purposefully buy too many bananas and freeze the overripe extras). Often more exotic things sneak in too, like grapefruit chunks or whole kiwi, along with the typical "health nut" stuff like coconut milk, kefir, and flax seeds.

And then there are the really weird ingredients: sliced cucumbers, raw carrots, Roma tomatoes, cooked sweet potatoes, cold espresso, lime slices.

Not all in the same smoothie. But still.

The vegetables were actually Jared's idea. Cukes give a fresh, light flavor; carrots, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes all have natural sugars that blend seamlessly with fruit. The espresso made its way in when we brewed too much for breakfast, the limes when we bought too many for guacamole. Both are delicious.

(I don't know how things would turn out without a Blendtec or Vitamix, but with one, there aren't ever any weird textures from the vegetable peels or seeds.)

Finally, I have to take bentonite clay for six weeks as I try to deal with a gluten allergy. I eyed it up for a while-- what am I supposed to do with you?-- and then decided to put some in my smoothie. Works perfectly. I was afraid that it would taste like dirt, but nothing of the sort. Adding some raw honey really helps.

18 October 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #10

Linked up with Conversion Diary.


"You know, you're allowed to think about happy things sometimes."
-Jared after yet another wifely meltdown over a theoretical disaster


What Ellie lacks in size she makes up for in volume. She's essentially a baby foghorn.

And she's so cute I can't STAND it.


They say this might be the world's most romantic proposal. Eh, it's fun to watch . . . but I liked just having me and Jared. I am a private person in some ways (despite having a blog).


Ooh, interesting: perimortem C-sections may not only save babies, but when done quickly, increase maternal survival rates as well.


Nothing like a good insult to liven up your day. Twenty-one disparaging remarks by classical composers about their unfortunate peers. "I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music."


Because I know you have nothing better to do: I wrote a guest post for The Mirror.


Ah, excellent: seventeen overly optimistic book titles. Didn't you want to know how to find uranium?

17 October 2013

pretty happy funny real #9


The basil is blooming. I have several quarts of pesto in the freezer, so I let the plants go and now they're providing some fall beauty. :)


We found a great chest freezer on Craigslist. Now I can buy massive amounts of shredded cheese and chicken thighs!


Owls are the style world's animal du jour, as you can see by looking at Ellie's outfit. Without even trying, I ended up putting her in an owl diaper, an owl onesie, and owl leg warmers!


Things in our room . . . returns, "for Goodwill," "to sell on Craigslist," so on and so forth.

14 October 2013

the quotable princess bride #6

The Reading by Renoir
"I am not a planner. I follow. Tell me what to do and no man does it better. But my mind is like fine wine; it travels badly. I go from thought to thought but not with logic, and I forget things, and help me, Fezzik, what am I to do?"

I feel you, Inigo.

I like to tell myself that I'm smart and I have bright ideas. However, the truth of the matter is far more humbling. I really don't have bright ideas (or if I do, they only come after long and laborious cogitation). In college, I got top grades on my writing but you know what? The themes were never particularly brilliant. I had just developed a knack for making mediocre ideas sound impressive-- that's what vocabulary and syntax can do for you, kids.

So I love it when other people give me suggestions and I can run with them. That's where I excel: helping to execute somebody else's idea!

And no, logic does not make a regular appearance in my brain. Sometimes I try to explain my thoughts and they just jumble around until I don't even understand them myself. Fezzik, what am I to do?

I plan to make logic a cornerstone of my children's homeschool curriculum. Sort of for their sakes, but mostly for mine. (This is also the reason we will be studying Asian history: I don't know a single thing about it!)

11 October 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #9

Linked up with Conversion Diary


It has been raining for two days. Piglet is entirely surrounded by water! So we sat on the porch and watched.

Hmm, interesting.

Ellie has amassed quite a collection of "funny noises." From fake coughing to gurgling to incredibly high pitched squealing, she knows how to express her silliness.


A quirky experiment: what will the US Postal Service send?


Two interesting interview/profiles for you. First, Justice Antonin Scalia. "I am something of a contrarian, I suppose. I feel less comfortable when everybody agrees with me."


Second, Harry Po-- sorry, I mean Daniel Radcliffe. "New York is the only place in the world where people might say they like your work but they don’t ask you for anything."


Speaking of The Potter, here are 30 amusing behind-the-scenes photos from filming.


Your politics for this week: the lying Obamacare poster child, and the nasty surprises in store for many middle-class Americans. ("'Of course, I want people to have health care,' Vinson said. 'I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.'")


Debunking the overpopulation myth. As the oldest of six children and a mother who also would love to have a large family . . . I appreciate it when people bust that lie.

10 October 2013

ahoy, discoveries! vol. 12 [the first six months edition]

carseat and Moose: ready to rumble
Put the Baby In It

After Ellie graduated from her bouncy seat, she learned how much fun one can have jumping. I always put Trumpette socks on her so she doesn't rough up her feet on the wooden floors.

I know that some people don't find them all that useful, but we like our Bumbo and tray a lot. (Look for one on Craigslist; they're everywhere. And make sure that you send in for the free add-on kit with straps.) Ellie often sits in it while we eat dinner, scraping on a carrot stick or begging pieces of fruit from her soft-hearted father.

Our infant carseat is a Chicco Keyfit30. It's fairly heavy but also has high safety ratings, and it's wide enough to let a baby's legs fall into the frog position rather than holding them straight. It will fit Ellie up to 30 pounds, after which, I'm not sure. Any suggestions for the next step?

Our stroller is another large item I'd recommend-- it's a Baby Jogger City Elite. At the moment we use the carseat adapter to clip in the Keyfit (since Ellie can't sit up on her own yet). I like the City Elite because the three-wheel design works great on uneven city sidewalks, because it's easy to maneuver, because it has an adjustable handle, because it has a decent sized basket and storage pockets by the handle, because it folds up with one quick motion, and because it is surprisingly lightweight for such a sturdy contraption. It also seems to have decent suspension: Ellie doesn't mind bumping along over the cracks and curbs.

Cleaning Up

I also use the Bumbo for bathtime. Stick her in, run the water, and she's free to splash away.

Speaking of which, Burt's Bees makes a really nice bubble bath soap. Ellie really enjoys the mounds of bubbles floating around her! It is expensive, though, so I plan to experiment with my own concoction once the bottle runs out. :)

I had a couple of small baby towels for when she was really tiny, but now I've started to just use one of ours and that's perfectly fine since they are all so soft.

Green Sprouts bibs feature a waterproof inner layer, so your little droolbucket doesn't immediately soak the clothes beneath the bib. Ellie is constantly dripping . . . so we have two dozen of these . . . and I still run out.


Mortimer the Moose (or just "Moose" as we call him) is Ellie's favorite toy, apart from anything Mama happens to be holding. He has a squishable body and hard antlers, which are great for teething. We keep him in the car and when we're on the road, you can usually hear Ellie crinkling his feet as she stuffs them in her mouth.

She's also a fan of IKEA children's tableware, particularly cups and spoons. As I write this she's lying on her back with her face stuffed into a cup, singing happily and kicking the floor. Whatever works, baby girl.


Over the past six months I have wanted to take Ellie's temperature several times; I use this spiffy folding model from Safety 1st. She has never objected, and actually seems to think it's pretty funny when I stick it under her arm. She ran a fever once, but I just took off her clothes and kept her hydrated, and it went away on its own (as fevers usually do). Seemed to be related to teething.

Little Mouse sometimes gets cradle cap. I rub coconut oil all over her head, and after 20 minutes start combing it all out, being careful to pick up all the flaky skin I can. After a thorough bath, the cradle cap is just about gone. This little comb and brush set from American Red Cross works nicely.

Not medical, but related to safety: you should probably get a sunshade for the window next to your baby's carseat. We have one from UPPAbaby and I like it so far.


When we go on trips or if Ellie needs to sleep at someone else's house, we put her in a basic Graco Pack and Play with an organic crib sheet.

Sleep sacks are fantastic. I have a few lightweight ones for naptime and fleece for colder nights. Warm, easy, and very cute. Just layer a onesie underneath and you are set! For some reason, Ellie loves putting on her jammies and gets very silly once she's in a sleep sack. :)

Linked up with Simple Lives Thursday

07 October 2013

the quotable princess bride #5

La Promenade by Renoir
"Buttercup was searching somewhere for sufficiency of courage. Evidently, she found it in his eyes."

The mushiest. Yet so true of me.

The most intense instance of this came when Ellie was on her way out. I know for a stone-carved fact that if it weren't for Jared's presence I would have given up an hour into active labor. Not because it hurt so much at the moment, but because six . . . seven . . . twelve more hours of it sounded like too much to handle. And they would have been, had I faced them alone.

I'm not sure why a companion can give you courage, but that's exactly what happened. While I lay in the hot tub, breathing slowly and relaxing every muscle in my power, Jared sat by the edge holding my hand. The knowledge that my husband was with me made each contraction seem like something I could handle. Labor wasn't going to beat me. We were going to do this thing. And we did.

04 October 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #8

Linked up with Seven Quick Takes.


"Well, if I have any feelings, I will be sure to let you know."
-Jared resolves to be a more communicative husband

"Did you tell her to put down the crack pipe and take a chill pill?"
-Jared's advice on how to deal with a parent making strange remarks about my class policies



At The Federalist: It's time to start talking about the global persecution of Christians.


Valentino's Spring 2014 collection is kind of awesome. If #22 showed up on my doorstep I would wear it. Or #32. It's gorgeous and I could pretend to be, I don't know, Mary Queen of Scots.


This is funny: how to taste your freshly baked cake without ruining it.





OK I'm done now.


Just kidding. One more.

03 October 2013

pretty happy funny real #8

Linked up with LMLD.


Fall has definitely arrived. I gave the front porch a makeover to celebrate.

This is from Target.

Daddy pumpkin, Mommy pumpkin, Ellie pumpkin.

Made this a couple of years ago . . . still looks good!


Ellie's Bumbo now has straps. The company will send you a free kit if you request one on the site, and it's extremely easy to add. Even I could do it!


Oh, this child.


The aftermath of Ellie in the jumper.

Um, ok.

We've entered the "toys scattered in random places" stage. And she's not even mobile.

01 October 2013

a review and recommendation

My friend Heidi recently opened an Etsy shop to sell her crocheted hats, scarves, and other both-useful-and-adorable items. She sent me this little doo-dad for Ellie to model:

You might say that it's a combination earwarmer and headband. Whatever label you choose, it's cute, soft, and very functional. Ellie grinned at me as soon as I slipped it over her ears. As usual, she also enjoyed her photo shoot. She relishes any opportunity to practice her faces.

So both Ellie and I approve! Heidi, thank you for letting me review this for you-- everybody else, hop on over to Crochet Lightly to get something of your own! Everything is very affordable and well made. I am eyeing up the colorblock hat for myself.

(Ellie thinks she might take up modeling as a career.)