settled.

sometimes being settled is a good thing.

spending 2016 on the move was a great thing.

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spending 78.5% of 2017 in a constant state of flux was a not-so-great thing.

 

so, this thanksgiving, being settled in our own place feels kinda great.

 

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gluten free all the things (except those darn crescent rolls. not that I couldn’t have made gf crescent rolls (I totally planned on it but ran out of energy.)

Anyway, it proved a good time to teach a couple of young men exactly how to roll triangles of refrigerator dough into crescent shapes.

(I think they did a pretty good job)

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being back in my own kitchen is helping me get back on the eating right train. would you believe I made a kale lasagna today? yes. kale, once my sworn enemy, occasionally finds a place in my diet (trader joe’s broccoli and kale slaw is downright addictive) 

this kale sausage lasagna was super easy to throw together and a low-carb dish to warm you up on a chilly winter weekend. *recipe adapted 

ok in complete honesty, calling this a lasagna might be a bit of a stretch. it’s more of a casserole. 

IMG_0320Ingredients:
1 lg bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, cut into 2″ pcs

2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb bulk italian sausage (hot or sweet)
1 jar pasta sauce

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

preheat oven to 375 degrees. spray a 9″ x 12″ glass pan with non stick cooking spray.

heat the oil in a large heavy sauce pan, brown the sausage until cooked thoroughly.

when the sausage is done, add the pasta sauce, and let the sauce simmer 20-25 minutes, or until it’s thickened and the liquid is reduced.

 

add about a teaspoon or so of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  drop the kale into the boiling water and cook until barely wilted. this should take between 1-3 minutes depending on the kale, so keep an eye on it. drain kale into a colander in the sink and toss it to remove as much moisture as possible. dump the cooled kale onto a clean cotton dish towel, roll up and squeeze out remaining moisture.

begin layering the ingredients in your prepared pan, starting with half of the kale. then half of each of the sauce, the parmesan, the mozzarella. then repeat. you’ll have two complete layers.

cover with foil and bake, covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.

let casserole sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

enjoy!

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All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

obsessions.

first off, maybe you’ve noticed I’ve made some changes around here. I’m not entirely convinced that I love it yet, still tweaking the edges, but it was time for a new look so I picked a new theme and well, here we are. let me know what you think! (or not, you know I’m not one to order people around… and ok, if you really know me, then you know that’s a bold faced lie right there.)

on to my latest obsessions which all revolve around design and decorating. specifically light, airy, modern items like this dining room:

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or this bedroom, with a bed I could imagine spending the whole day in:

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I’m researching every possible sofa in internet sofa land: currently landing on this one from article as a favorite with a strict no coffee drinking rule applied to all who sit!sectional

the reason for all my obsessing over household items (you should see my pinterest) is we are going to be settling down again, taking a break from the nomadic life we’ve been living these past few years. Mr. X is going to be getting a coding certification and we’ll be staying put in our old hometown at least for a few years as he gets his foothold in a career.

I imagine we’ll hit the road again in the future (we still have so much more to see!)

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but, for now I look forward to organizing my laundry room and watering plants, figuring out where to put my baking sheets and things of other high importance. it will be good to have a place to call home, again.

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unless otherwise credited, All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

finding life in death valley.

my son needed a little break from the winter doldrums back in grey-skies-will spring-never-arrive-cleveland, so we sent him a ticket to fly into las vegas and planned a few days of camping and a visit to death valley national park.

now the name death valley conjures up a desolate, barren wasteland of nothingness. a mad max-like expanse of desert as far as the eyes can see, with nothing growing, just the occasional blowing dune, or skeleton of the tourist before you who didn’t bring enough water. (always bring enough water)

so, we were pleasantly surprised when we found that death valley had really more life than death. and just as many highs as lows.

one of the most spectacular highs being dante’s view.

I mean, come on.

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from the top you could see 360 degrees for miles. and on the way up there (you climb a mile high over 13 miles of winding road) was so much green, and wildflowers…..no death anywhere. 

stunning.

and the sunset from there, well, it sure takes the mind off dreary cleveland weather.

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there were lots of opportunities to climb things.

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and climbed they both did.

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this is called the artist’s palette: it’s mounds of colorful mineral-rocks left after volcanic activity. it basically looks like a melted ice-cream sundae.

the lowest point of the trip (get it, lowest) was badwater basin: literally the lowest place in the western hemisphere. we got there before 9am and it was already climbing above 90 degrees. it’s the craziest place I’ve ever been, will probably ever be. the smell in the air is like sulphur/salt; the “ground” crunches beneath you and the silence (once you get away from the other tourists) is deafening. you’re almost 300 feet below sea level, and surrounded by mountains that reach a mile into the sky that are topped with snow. 

insane. 

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view from above:

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there’s 250 square miles of the white stuff; looks like snow from up here, it’s basically table salt. 

my favorite part was hiking through mosaic canyon. the boys left me to do their own climbing of the walls instead of just hiking the path, so I enjoyed the cool canyon walls and the silence all by myself. 

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(hikes in a skirt)

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even though it’s name is intimidating, and some of the days were hot and tough, I think we conquered death valley. it is now one of our top five national parks; it is park number 25 (if you’re keeping track) that we’ve visited since december (including national monuments, not including national forests) *btw: national monuments, like white sands, are not “national parks” merely because it takes an act of congress to make it so. death valley didn’t become a national park until 1994; it had been a monument since the 30’s. your history lesson for the day 🙂

onward, we go!

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 All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

hey, sunshine.

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this morning we had to be up at (early enough to capture this stunning sunrise) to get to yet another doctor’s appointment. (it’s been one of those weeks.)

since we were up, though, we made the most of it. we stopped at a local bakery and grabbed some treats; headed down to the Cleveland Metroparks and enjoyed the best time of year here, which is the beautiful month of September.

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felt a little like a fairy, traipsing about in this loveliness.

“If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you the day just like today

If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way”

john denver said it best.

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life