“Where there is love there is life.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Manicotti: my first homemade recipie.

Three days after I graduated high school, I moved in with my then boyfriend (now husband).  We spent the summer working and living in his aunt’s house.  I moved to the dorms, and I really never had to make “meals.”  I was never taught basic cooking skills, never took a foods class or watched the Food Network.  My mother, ironically, gave me my first cook book that first Christmas after I moved out, but I didn’t even know what half of the ingredients were.  I grew up in home where both parents worked full time jobs, and dinner was usually a Hamburger Helper or some variation of a quick meal from a box.   I felt in over my head.

A lot of my stay-at-home time has been spent trying to teach myself how to cook.   Being able to feed my children and husband healthy, tasty, easy and fast-to-create meals is something that I believe is a part of my job as mom, something I desperately want to accomplish.  I am thankful for three things when it comes to my self-taught cooking abilities: 1. My slow cooker!!!  Makes the juiciest meals withe least amount of ingredients and you don’t have to stand over the stove watching the food.  The cooker does the work for you and is very difficult to mess up.  (Although I have not had success with adding frozen meat to the cooker.  Someone I know swears this is fine, but I think it creates a dry meat instead of juicy.) 2. You Tube cooking tutorials.  Thank you internet!  You showed me how to cook chicken and mushrooms, how to cook fish, how to fry zucchini.  Recipes can be hard to follow in print.  I like the visual of a cooking show and the specificity I can find using the internet and HOW-TO videos.  3. Being a teaching aide in a high school cooking class.  I supported three students in the beginners class, and I found that I was learning more than the students.

The following recipe is the first one I really mastered after moving out, the first I truly know by heart because I have made it so many times.  Adapted from my mother-in-law…


7 manicotti noodles (pkg comes with 14)

1/2-3/4 LB hamburger and/or italian sausage (I really eyeball the meat amount because 1 LB meat is always too much

for any of our family meals… use all hamburger or all sausage, but I like a mixture the most…)

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

14 oz jar pasta sauce (give or take, eyeball it again)

1 1/2 – 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided

1. In large pot, start water to boil for the noodles; in a separate skillet, brown the meat and onion and garlic.  Once water is boiling, add noodles and boil for 7 minutes.  Drain the water and, using small tongs, place noodles on foil to cool but not stick.    Noodles may rip, so be gentle.  Pre Heat Oven for 350 degrees.

2. Drain grease from meat and transfer to large mixing bowl.  Add 1 c. cheese and stir until cheese begins to melt.

3. Fill the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish with some of the pasta sauce.  Stuff noodles with the meat/cheese mixture and place in dish until filled.  Add more sauce over the top of the noodles.  (If there is any leftover meat, add into sauce before pouring over.)   Cover dish with lid or foil; bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

4. Remove dish from oven, uncover.  Add remaining cheese over top and bake additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  (photo doesn’t do the cheese justice… i didn’t quite have enough cheese to cover the pasta… this dish needs cheese so sprinkle freely!)

Dish does well with salad, green beans, homemade garlic cheese bread are all family favorites.  ENJOY!


In my twenty-somethings and trying to create myself.

“One of the horrible parts of growing up is realizing that your fundamental perception of life’s truths is going to become obsolete.  The game changes, and so do the players.” 

As someone in her twenties, I find it difficult to fit into a prescribed niche.  I’m not the marketed-to teenager who has funds to waste and a desperation to acquire all things new and popular.  I’m not the mature thirty-something year old who is definitely a grown-up with stuff like life insurance policies and a profound collection of paid vacation from the full time job I’ve has since college.  I’m somehow awkwardly in the middle of everything.  And despite my fast approach into adulthood, I am still struggling on finding my identity.

I went to college.  I had a plan.  That plan changed.  I had a baby.  I wasn’t employed where I had planned to be employed.  Then I got married so young and moved into a house because it was an offer we couldn’t pass up.  Then I had another baby.  And now I’m the mama hub of a family of four living on one small income, trying to make ends meet.  But never regretting the time I spend at home being a mommy.

But I still don’t fit with my friends who went to college and then started working, or traveling, or just being amazing.  And I don’t fit in with the older mamas who have extensive retirement plans and worry about dieting or going to bed early.  I desperately wish I could be the perfect mama and wife and working woman, I just don’t know how I’m going to do that.

This blog is about finding my way through it all. About kids and crafts and being a mom, about eating fresh and healthy but not having to really cook anything, about maintaining a relationship with my high school sweetheart who became my husband and gave me two kids.  It is about being in my twenties and wanting to be both an immature, uprooted, spontaneous party animal and also a focused, responsible, perfect mother who gives her children the best childhood possible.


“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Lewis Carroll