Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Soup

I posted this photo on Instagram last week and instantly got asked to post the recipe.  For a simple soup, it is incredibly tasty. Perfect for the Fall!!


Sausage, Kale, & White Bean Soup

Ingredients:
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 links italian chicken sausage, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped kale (remove ribs)
1 14oz can white beans (also known as cannelini or great northern beans), drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
salt, pepper, garlic powder (may use fresh garlic but honestly I didn't want that strong of a garlic flavor)

Directions:
1) In a saucepan, add olive oil and heat of medium heat. Saute onion until beginning to turn translucent.
2) Add sausage slices and saute for about 30 seconds.
3) Add remaining ingredients. The kale is going to look like there is too much but it will cook down. When adding salt, pepper, and garlic powder - just a pinch will work but you can always add more/less to taste. Remember the sausage is flavored also.
4) Simmer over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes.
5) Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan or mozzarella cheese and some crusty bread. ENJOY!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Love For Horses

This isn't a new concept necessarily in my life, but it is a reignited love for sure.
As a little girl, I asked for a pony. In high school, I took some lessons during the summer after camp, and wanted to continue but they were just too pricey.

It is something I have always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to do again. This summer a Groupon for 4 lessons came up and I pounced on it. Because I knew it was something I wanted to do.

Well, now I'm hooked.

It goes beyond riding, because obviously I am somewhat capable of getting on the back of a horse and making it go. But there is just so much more to it than that. 

Reining, training, horsemanship/riding techniques...so much for me to learn.

I am enjoying every moment of it.


Saturday, as part of my negotiation to continue my lessons, I helped out at the ranch I am training at. I spent 2 hours sweeping out the tack/feed room, shoveling mud/manure/hay, and clearing the hitching area. It was back-breaking work (or in my case - soreness-inducing work). But I cannot complain because I also played with the dogs, got kisses from 2 of the horses (one of whom showed her affection by dragging her muddy nose on my tshirt...but ya know, dirt comes out), and was able to chat with the owner, another instructor/trainer, and in general be social while being outside on a beautiful day.


Was I sore today and yesterday? HA. Absolutely.
Am I going to ask if he needs more help around the ranch? Definitely.

 I learn something new every single time I am there. Not just about riding but about horses and ranch life. And to say I want to learn more and more would be an understatement.


Last week (Thursday night), I rode after work. Even though I had worked a full day, I was super excited to slip on my boots and drive out to the country. It was amazing and by the time we were done, the sun had gone down and the stars were up. It was just breathtaking to breathe in the cool, crisp fall air, and look up at the sky.

Oh and I mounted the horse that night without a mounting block thankyouverymuch (a personal accomplishment believe you me).

Unfortunately, I can only afford for it to be a hobby at the moment. I can't afford a horse of my own. Someday I will. But, for now, it does good for my soul to be able to go a few times a month and spend time with the horses. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I'm Reading

It is no secret that I read...a lot.
I don't even know how many I've read in the last few years.
But, here are some really good reads. Some are part of a series, so you may or may not want to read the other books first.

ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER

I've written about this series before. Mainly Anna and the French Kiss. This is the final book of the series and is rivals Anna as my favorite one.

BREATHE ANNIE BREATHE

This is also part of a series, but, again, one of my favorites of this series. The main character is training to run a marathon to honor her boyfriend who passed away. It is sad and sweet but a good one. Can probably be read as a stand-alone, but it is book 4 in the Hundred Oaks series (which is set in Franklin, TN AKA right down the road from Nashville!)

ECHOES OF SCOTLAND

I lied. Apparently all of these books are part of series. I would recommend reading the other books in this series because it does have some crossover. Cole was a teenager in other books...well he is grown up and he's swoon-worthy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My (Mild) Obsession with Country Life

You may say, "how can you be obsessed if you live in Tennessee??"
Well, yes, I live in Tennessee, but I also live in Nashville- which is a city.

I am a city girl though. 
I lived in NYC. I grew up in the suburbs of Connecticut.
I am the least likely person who would be sort of obsessed with living in the middle of nowhere with smelly animals.
Yet, I am sort of intrigued by the lifestyle. 

Blame my Dad & Grandpa and their westerns...
Blame country music...
Blame Tennessee...
Blame whomever you want but I am sort of obsessed with cowboys and ranches and farms and such...

Maybe it is the small town charm and knowing your neighbors?
Maybe it is the change of pace?

When did this obession begin (other than moving to Nashville and starting to experience some things firsthand)?
Well, I have always admired and kind of wanted to be The Pioneer Woman.
She introduced me to blogging, ranching life, and all that jazz, quite awhile ago. 
I was highly interested because here was this sophisticated woman who managed to make rural ranch life work for her. Not to mention I love horses and animals. So I wouldn't mind being around them.

I also tend to read a lot of romance novels. (Go ahead, make fun of me...)

I think living in Nashville has allowed me to see the best of both worlds for now.
I can visit the city or drive 25 minutes south and see all the farmland.

For now, I am staying put, but I can dream of my farmhouse with horses in the back, can't I??

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Las Vegas Baby

Turning 30 wasn't nearly as painful as I expected it to be. I suppose the fact that I celebrated while in Las Vegas helped lessen the blow for sure.

I flew into Vegas on my actual birthday, which lead to a lot of people seeing my ID and wishing me a happy birthday. Can't tell you that wasn't a little nice ;)

Southwest is the cheapest airline to come out of Nashville to pretty much everywhere, but the downside to flying Southwest is you sort of feel like a sardine! But, the view was awesome as we flew over the Rocky Mountains...snow-capped and all!


We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which was right in the middle of the strip. It was very nice, but might have been a little more geared towards the male clientele. (Side Note: Vegas as a whole is geared toward men, however, women are definitely at an advantage, and somewhat the minority too)

View from our hotel room of the Bellagio Fountain!

We went for a nice dinner at the italian restaurant in our hotel that night and I even got free dessert!
(that picture does not do justice to just how good it was!)

I did not go out Thursday night to any clubs because I had to get up early on Friday for a trail ride.

I splurged for myself and booked myself a 2 hour horseback trail ride in Red Rock Canyon. What an amazing experience that I would love to repeat!



The terrain was dusty, rocky, and up/down/around. I was relatively sore that evening due to being in the saddle for 2 hours straight.

This photo was taken by one of the wranglers. The cute one named Robert. A cute cowboy taking my picture?? Yes and please :) too bad he lived in Nevada and I have no clue if he was single. Sigh. 


The horse I rode...her name was September and she was a little fiesty.

I went to Vegas with my mom, her best friend, and 2 of my cousins.

But Friday's happenings are a secret...what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right?? Dinner on Friday night was at a brazilian restaurant and it was so good. Needless to say, including my trail ride, Friday was a lot of fun!

Saturday was spent exploring, but first I went with my Mom and her best friend to Hash House a go go. OH MY WORD. The food was amazing and the portion sizes were insane!
Mine is the bottom one...which is a fried chicken/egg/bacon/biscuit benedict monstrosity. I think I ate only half of it, but it was so good.


I gambled, but not much. Vegas is definitely not cheap and there was a lot of things I didn't get to see or do. I'd love to go back but I would certainly have to save my money.

All in all, it was a great trip and an awesome way to celebrate my 30th birthday!


Monday, October 13, 2014

One Year in Nashville

I am sorry about the sporadic posting. I am trying to find the inspiration in me to post these days. I would rather not post, than post a bunch of crap entries. 

Yesterday was a major milestone. I've lived in Nashville now for a whole year!!

Crazy, I know!

12 months ago I made the crazy move from the Northeast, the only place I'd ever lived, to the South. I left my parents and my friends to see if I can find my way in a brand new city.

So far, it has been the best decision of my life.


I've accomplished quite a bit - lost more weight, got a dog, found a new passion for horseback riding, and have become the happiest I've been for a long, long time.

I have grown so much in the last year as a person. I've found things out about myself and what I want out of life. I turned 30 and the world didn't end.

There is so much I want to do still. I have so much more to see in this great city. I have so many more goals that need to be met. But, I have no plans to move.

I look forward now to continuing to pursue things that I enjoy and reaching goals I couldn't have imagined reaching 3, 4, 5 years ago. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thirty Years Old

It's here.

I am now THIRTY.

The past 10 years have seen a lot of ups and downs, happiness, disappointments, sadness, and personal growth. I moved to NYC, back to CT, and on to Nashville. I graduated from NYU, went back to school for nursing and graduated from that school. Made new friends, lost some friends, got a dog, had my heart broken...so much has happened in my 20s. 

Yet, I dreaded this birthday. 

You may ask, "why?"... 

Well, because I hadn't let go of what I expected my life to look like by this point.
I haven't fallen in love, gotten married, and started a family yet.
I haven't lost the weight I gained during that horrible relationship in my mid-20s.
I am still dealing with a lot of debt and worry all too often about my finances.

Then it hit me.

I am being given a clean slate...a new beginning...
I can take what I learned from my 20s and continue to grow.
I can make my future even more amazing.

(I wish I could find the source...)

So, I'm going to say Happy Birthday to myself and start the next chapter in my book.
I'm hoping that along the way I can continue to update you on what those chapters hold.
In the meantime, I'm headed on an airplane to have a fun weekend in Vegas to celebrate this milestone. See you when I get back :)