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Spring is in with Cooking Light

Cooking Light is serving up some terrific dishes for my favorite season, spring. Below is my adaptation of their Creamy Asparagus, Herb & Pea Pasta recipe. I decided to add a chopped red onion and a sprinkle of nutmeg in the sauce. I also substituted shrimp for the asparagus and angel hair pasta for the recommended pappardelle. The sauce is creamy and delicious. The light burst of the peas scream spring and although the sauce is cheesy, this dish felt incredibly light. Try it for yourself my way or follow the recipe as is. Either way I have a feeling you’ll end up satisfied!

creamy shrimp, herb & pea pasta


The Unforgettable Photograph GIVEAWAY

the unforgettable photograph

If you’re anything like me your iphone (or smartphone) is always near by. I almost forget what it was like to carry a camera in addition to my phone. It’s something I think we now take for granted. This time period is quickly becoming the most captured and documented era of our civilization. Many times these snapshots capture a funny memory, a delicious meal, or beautiful sunset. Sometimes they simply capture a feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a new pair of shoes. Nonetheless, these captured moments are frozen in time. They’re saved as a memory that can be relived again and again.

Personally I’ve always believed that you don’t need fancy equipment to take an incredible photograph, but rather a deep connection to the subject you’re shooting, the moment you’re experiencing, or the emotion you’re feeling. I rely on my iphone camera very heavily and probably take too many photos, but that’s not something I’m willing to change. However, something I’m always looking to change is my perspective. Changing your perspective or view can be life changing. In The Unforgettable PhotographGeorge Lange does an incredible job of adjusting your perspective while teaching you how-to capture the priceless moments, better. George Lange has lived his life photographing anything & everything from food, to people, to landscapes and more. Through these experiences like anything else, he learned a few tricks along the way. Lucky for readers, Lange shares these tips in an easy to read + easy to implement format. My favorite part of this book besides the awesome photographs themselves, is the personal narrative Lange includes with each one of his lessons. What we choose to photograph says so much about what we value and hold close to our hearts. This look inside a professional’s mindset when it comes to photography is a breath of fresh air. You almost feel as if Lange himself is sitting next to you just having a conversation and sharing his tips as he tells you about the things he’s learned. It makes you look at the world around you through a new lens.  Suddenly everywhere you look is an unforgettable photograph, just waiting to happen.

This book debuted as the #1 photography book on Amazon and has since sold over 50K copies since it’s release in September. Lucky for you I was sent this awesome book to review, +1 to giveaway!! Everyone who loves photography could take away something new and helpful from this book. Enter below for your chance to win! :) Want one for yourself? Hop on over to Amazon & scoop this gem for yourself.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

visit  for more inspiration

disclosure: I was given this product to review from the publishers, however as always all opinions and comments are my own. 


Thursday Things…

photo 1 (2)

Weeks when I don’t get to do my Thursday Things are hard weeks. This series has sort of developed and grown into something I never expected. I began it with the intention of just having a weekly post where I could talk about all the other stuff in my life, besides food. I never thought it would prove to be such a personal release for me and attract such an awesome following. So  this is me trying to say thanks for reading my (almost) weekly random rants. Writing is my therapy. I need this time to reflect, think ‘aloud’, and pour myself into word form so that I can better understand myself. I think everyone should write. It forces you to put your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in somewhat of an order to attempt to understand them. Do it for yourself. When you don’t feel like it, or feel like it’s all too much…that’s when you need to do it the most. :)

1. I’ve decided each day we have at least one WTF moment. Some-days are extra special offering up multiple WTF moments like a BOGO special. And some weeks it seems like you’re walking in a WTF wind tunnel. I find that if I’m able to step outside of that moment or momentssss, and recognize it for what it is…’my wtf of day’, I am able to handle it with much more grace. (rinse & repeat this saying) “how we respond in any situation has to make things better, not worse.” – jeffrey r. holland

2. You know what’s funny? Bathroom humor. You know when it’s not funny? When you’re the butt of the joke. Literally. Coming home from a bridal shower I recently had the tremendous experience of almost pooping myself. Yep. You read that correctly. I said pooping.  Have you ever had code brown? A ‘this is not a drill’ moment? An [almost] poop-cident? No? Well then you’ve never really lived. Almost shitting yourself is something everyone should experience in adulthood, at least once. It’s almost a religious experience. You start pleading with the powers that be. Not only does it make for one hilarious story after all is said and done, but it makes you oh-so thankful for the normal days when you aren’t driving like you’re being chased and (carefully) running into an abandoned high school, (seriously) desperate  for  toilet. A hole. A bowl. Anything. [but. your. pants.] Let’s just say I made it and I won’t be eating questionable potato salad for a verrrrry long time, or maybe ever. Talk about a WTF moment.

3.Fact: Not everything you do for others is going to be reciprocated in the same manner. Get over it, don’t resent it & move on.

4.  Kid President. If you don’t know about this “kid” yet, let me introduce you. Robby, age 10, is full of life and ideas. Robby has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) a brittle bone condition which has resulted in him having over 70 breaks since birth. What’s inspiring about Robby isn’t his condition, but the fact that his condition doesn’t define who he is. In spite of all he’s been through he not only keeps going – he dances. And boy does he ever inspire. His videos are a viral sensation and a hit among my students. Teachers who’ve never seen his videos are suddenly caught between…me being one of them. If you haven’t had a chance to see him or hear him yet, please click here and check out some of his videos. Inspiration feeds inspiration. Awesomeness is contagious and this kid has more than enough to spread.


5. When you feel heavy, (in your mind, not your body) everything seems heavy. It feels like your life is one constant domino effect of sensitive material.This happens, then this happens, ohhh and then THIS. It always seems to go that way doesn’t it? At times it seems never ending. It makes you question things. Hold on to little things you’d normally be able to shrug off. And it makes you all too aware of your own sadness, loneliness, and insecurities. The plus side is that when you are able to let some of those heavy things go, you feel that relief and lightness you remember the saying of “this too shall pass” really does ring true.

6. This is the truest of true. photo 3 (1)

7. So I gave my students a power-point project a couple of weeks ago and I was totally impressed by what they were able to come up with. I created a template and then their job was to customize it and personalize it with all of their own information. Most of the slides were pretty straight forward with things like “I am from…”, “my favorite book is…”, “my favorite things are…” but some I left open-ended on purpose to see where they’d take it and they did not disappoint. Check out a few of my favorites below.

What are your hopes and dreams? (each are different student’s responses)
I hope to become a great man
I hope my mom is done with siblings
To be president, go into the military, be a cop and a zoo keeper. In that order.

I wonder…(each are different student’s responses)
If dreams ever come true…
Why movies are so violent?
Why people don’t believe in god?
If aliens exist…
If there will be an alien invasion…
When will there be a zombie apocalypse?
If I’ll marry a super model…
If our weather will ever get bettered…
Why does Mario wears gloves?


One of my students declared that she “hoped to be the 1st lady president!” Another teacher was in the room and asked the class if we have had a lady president yet. Most students shook their head no, but my (high-functioning, incredible bright and quite possibly my favorite of the year) autistic student was adamantly nodding his head yes. The teacher turned to him and “We have?” And he grinned from ear-to-ear and said “Yes! Judge Judy!”


Cooking with LouAna Coconut Oil

I was recently sent some LouAna Coconut Oil to demo. Coconut oil is kind of all the rage right now. Not only are people cooking with it, but their using it on their skin, pulling it through their teeth and shinning up their hair!

I will admit that although I’ve heard great things about cooking with coconut oil, I had not gone out on that limb yet. So given the chance, I was excited to give it a try. I was/am a completely novice coconut oil user I didn’t realize that it came in solid form, so that was a bit of a surprise. I also was expecting it to have a coconutty fragrance, which to my pleasant surprise it did not.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been slightly butternut squash obsessed lately. So when thinking about cooking with the coconut oil this butternut squash hash recipe popped in my head instantly. Lately I’ve been trying to get back into my Sunday cooking/prep for the week routine. I love creating one thing that I can reuse in different ways throughout the week. It just makes sense time-wise and major budget sense to cook this way. Below you can see the different ways I used the hash throughout the week. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner options are all deliciously possible with this super simple, super healthy, and super tasty butternut squash recipe. The coconut oil kept this recipe light but did a great job of marrying all the southwestern flavors and coating the ingredients to get that perfect saute!

butternut squash eggs

butternut squash quesadillas

butternut squash enchiladas

butternut squash with pork

Butternut Squash Southwestern Hash (4 ways)


1 lb butternut squash, pre-cut & cubed (1/2 inch cubes)
1 can rinsed black beans
1 cup sweet corn
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2 inch cubes)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 small can green chiles, drained
3 cups baby spinach
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper


  1. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium high heat. Once melted add butternut squash, onions, potatoes, and garlic. Stir well.
  2. Once onions are translucent, add corn, black beans, tomatoes, and chiles. Season mixture with all seasoning ingredients and stir to mix well.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Let cook for 18-20 minutes or until butternut squash and potatoes are tender with a fork. Remove lid and stir in baby spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. serve as is with eggs for breakfast
    serve as is with quesadillas to dip
    for enchiladas: spoon mixture into toritllas, top with shredded cheese, wrap up and top with enchilada sauce and more shredded cheese and bake @ 375 for 10 minutes or until bubbly
    for pork tenderloin topping: add shredded cheese to mixture, stir well until creamy and serve on top of pork
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I was given this product to review by the company, however all opinions and comments are my own.


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