Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Today’s post comes from Emily of fooding with Emily, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Red Pen Mama, where I talk about motivation.

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I have quite the hate-hate relationships with diets.  I hate going on them.  I hate fat-free, ill tasting dishes.  I love to exercise (OK, I hate getting up, making myself go to the gym, I’m OK when I get there, I hate sweating, I hate feeling exhausted, but when I’m all done I LOVE IT – so I only ‘love’ exercising when I’m done). Trying to be healthy means exercising and eating healthy(er). I’ve had my fair share of yo-yo diets and none of them sticking.  But the one thing that has stuck is eating well and just move.  Indulge from time to time.  I will eat my cake! Just not every day.  I will have chocolate! Just not every day.  I will eat my brussel sprouts! I actually really like brussel sprouts.  Like a lot. Probably more than one should.  If I had to pick between chocolate and the sprouts, I’d pick sprouts hand down.  I know, I’m weird.  I would trade you my chocolate cake for your brussel sprouts and feel like I was the winner of that trade.

I’ve found this one recipe that is not only on the healthier side, but it’s QUICK. I love cooking, but sometimes when I am just tired on a Tuesday night, I’d rather pick up the phone and order a pizza. This recipe is my new saving grace.  It’s nothing terribly fancy so it will please most picky eaters.  It’s also tasty.  I can’t get enough of it.  I found it on Cooking Light and was blown away.  That magazine has had it’s fair share of ‘meh’ in my experience.  But since I have subscribed last year, I’ve been SOLD. And I’m sold again with this dish.

My only substitution was instead of using fresh tomatoes, i used canned diced tomatoes with some oregano and basil seasoning.  I cut corners where I see fit.  I hate chopping tomatoes.

You’ll need:

8 ounces uncooked penne
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup vertically sliced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, chopped
6 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.

My only problem with this recipe is that I want to eat and eat and eat until it’s all gone.  Stupid diets!

 

   

5 Easy Tips for Teaching Children about Philanthropy This Holiday Season (Guest Post)

Today I’m sharing with you a guest post by Jan Helson, creator of The Global Game Changers children’s entertainment brand and author of the children’s book, The Global Game Changers. 5 Easy Tips for Teaching Children about Philanthropy This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a wonderful time to start teaching children about philanthropy and the joys of giving. The key to encouraging your child to become a life-long giver is a simple equation: Your Talent + Your Passion = Your Superpower! You don’t have to be bitten by a spider to be a superhero. By encouraging each child to combine their individual talents and passions, you can make giving an integral part of their lives.

Here are a few simple tips to help your child reveal their inner superhero!

1.Discuss how important it is to give as well as to receive. Read them a book with a Christmas theme, and discuss the spirit of the holidays as seen in these books. My family used to attend yearly performances of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ classic tale of a man who learns the value of giving back. O Henry’s story of The Gift of the Magi also shows how much people who care for each other are willing to give up to make each other happy. Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is another fun way to introduce the concept of the Christmas spirit and giving.

2. Engage in giving as a family. There are an abundance of opportunities to show children how to give, and to explain to them that while Christmas might be an opportunity to receive presents, it’s also a great time to give back! There are so many wonderful opportunities to give over the Christmas holidays. Participate in a Turkey Trot or other run to benefit a charity. Stop by a local church or mall to find an Angel tree and shop for Christmas presents for a child who might otherwise not get anything. Bring your kids along when you deliver meals through programs like Meals on Wheels. Donate new or gently-used toys to programs like Toys for Tots. Arrange a Christmas carol sing-along at a local retirement home. Send Christmas letters or treats to troops stationed overseas. Drop some change in a Santa bell-ringer’s jar.

3. Cultivate their passion. Now that you’ve participated in giving, figure out what kind of giving interests your child. What’s their passion? Perhaps they would like to do something to help kids like them who are sick or in need. Perhaps they are interested in the natural world and would like to do something to help the environment. Encourage your child to think of a way that she/he can give back to a charitable initiative that they feel a connection to. Engaging your children in giving back to something they care about will make them life-long givers.

4. Unleash their talents. Expose your child to the tools necessary for them to create his/her own charity project by combining their passion for a particular cause with their strengths or interests. Is your child a baker? Then she/he can have a bake sale to raise money for a favorite charity. Perhaps she/he is crafty and can sell trinkets made. Athlete? Organize a sporting event to raise awareness for a charity they care about. My daughter Rachel is an actress. She put on a show to benefit the Susan G Komen Foundation after discovering three of her aunts had been diagnosed with breast cancer. You can show them online tools for raising money, and give examples of what other children have done to make the world a better place.

5. Embrace their individuality and re-enforce that they can make a difference. Help your children learn Ebeneezer Scrooge’s lesson: “”I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Now that your children know about giving, help them continue to give throughout the year!

Using these tips, you can show your children how the holiday spirit can spark interest and get them moving toward making the world a better place all year round!

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Enter the Global Game Changers contest!

“Like” the Global Game Changers Facebook page and then post a picture of your child(ren) in action “igniting good!”. Jan will choose one lucky fan to receive a gift pack complete with The Global Game Changers book, an Ignite Good! superhero cape, a 56-page Ignite Good! Activity Book and $30 Amazon gift card.

#SpiritDay On Being an Ally

It’s no surprise that Greg and I are anti-any kind of harassment, especially when it comes to race, sexuality, and religion. We are raising the kids to truly do what God would want, and love everyone. Today, October 19, is GLAAD’s Spirit Day, a day to stand up against bullying (especially of those in the LGBT community).

As an ally, I wrote a post that was shared on my friend’s blog, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. Hopefully you’ll consider taking a few moments to read it, and to stand up against bullying yourself. Here’s a snippet:

After getting out of a bad relationship, I finally became an ally. The ladies who are some of my best friends (and now sister-in-law) were some of the most supportive people I’d ever met. They weren’t man haters. They opened my eyes to a world in which “hell, we all struggle, let’s kick back a drink, dust off our flip flops, and move on TOGETHER” was key.

Tales of Traveling with ‘Lil Burghers: Part Two

Last time I talked about traveling with kids (a baby and a toddler), I told you all about how we always pack “Everything But the Kitchen Sink”. Today, I am over at Marine Parents Blog talking about the first car trip with a potty training toddler and what we packed to make it helpful. Please head over to read Part 2 of this summer’s Travel Series and be proud of ‘Lil Miss A!

(PS: April has lots of beautiful handmade products over at her Marine Parents Etsy Shop. You really should check that out, too.)

Introducing…Operation Every Cent Counts

This post was written by Mrs. ‘Ski over at Oh Yeah? Roger That! about our joint blog community service project. If you are interested in helping us out, feel free to reply to this post, on her blog, or to lilburghers@gmail.com. We hope you will join us in making Every Cent Count!

Last week was Couponing for a Cause Week. Yeah yeah, I’m a week late. Shut it. If you follow B & G over at ‘lil Burghers, you know they LOVE couponing. B and I have teamed up for many projects in our lives before, but I don’t think any have been so personal for me and so DUH for her.

When the Japan earthquakes occurred, I stalked my twitter feed, waiting for the milspouses I’ve spoken to a few times to post they were ok. I wept. I couldn’t imagine being alone in a foreign country with two children. Oh, and knowing my husband was deployed across the world, unable to console any of us. Unimaginable for me. I’ve mentioned before that I often don’t feel like a milspouse. When I come across situations like the one I just described, I feel guilty. My husband was with me. If there was an emergency, he’s never too far away to come home to console me.

The reassurance that long distance acquaintances and their families were fine took far too long for my pregnant soul, but they came. The US military bases in Japan didn’t sustain any damage and everyone was accounted for. But it made me realize just how tiny my world has become. Because of the uniform my husband wears and the explosion of social media, I now had people across the world who I cared about.

Shortly after the earthquake, one of the milspouses mentioned her involvement in the Coupon Queens Of Okinawa. Essentially, the group is comprised of milspouses based in Okinawa who share coupons. They’re able to use coupons up to six months expired. That’s awesome! I knew I could help these families. Don’t tell G, but I got coupons every week that I just threw away. Why not collect them and ship them over!

And that’s exactly what we’re doing. ‘lil Burghers and Oh Yeah Roger That will be launching our first joint service project (in our adult lives). We shall call it “Operation Every Cent Counts.” We’ll be collecting expired and unused coupons to send to military families in Okinawa Japan. We’ll send our first shipment on June 1. That means any coupons dated 2011 will be useful! Email me (ohyeahrogerthat @ gmail . com)to arrange pick up of your coupons!

Daddy’s Home!

Why hello there, Mr. Lil Burgher aka G!

As many of you may know, I am a stay-at-home father to two beautiful, amazing children. What you may not know is that this really is my dream job and in a way, a source of healing for my past.

Growing up, my father worked a lot and suffered from clinical depression so he wasn’t very involved throughout most of my childhood. I ended up resenting him for his absence (we have since reconciled), and vowed to never put my kids through that pain and be as involved in their lives as possible.

Every day I get to wake up to, “Daddy…MOOOORRRRNIIIIING!!!” A is ready to get dressed, eat breakfast and watch “shows”. While she eats, E gets a bottle and Daddy checks FB, gets a snack and lets face it, watches kids shows with A.

Now it’s not all snuggling and watching cartoons, there is still a house to be kept and work to be done. That is where our magical Moby Wrap comes in handy, especially when E doesn’t want to be put down. I wear our little man tightly to me as I sweep and vacuum floors, dust, wash dishes and do laundry.

Of course, all work and no play makes daddy, well, lame. We make sure to spend plenty of time out in the yard and in the pool (except in crappy Pittsburgh winter), painting, coloring, sliding (weee), playing make believe and all other forms of tomfoolery.

I have truly been blessed to have such an amazing wife who supports my choice to be our children’s caregiver and we are so lucky that her job affords me the option to do so. To anyone who doesn’t agree with or understand a man taking on a role that has traditionally been the mother’s, I say, it’s the 21st Century, any guy can throw money at a kid, it’s called child support, but a real father goes out of his way to get to know his children and be there for moments large and small. This is not to make light or take anything away from all the fathers who bust their butts every day to put food on the table, just saying, there doesn’t have to be a double standard.

At the end of the day, I have a job, and it just happens to be one of the best things in my world. My children have given me a purpose, a drive and a confidence that makes everything okay and anything possible. I’ve been good at many things but being a father is the first thing I can honestly say I am great at, and you can’t put a price on that.

Moms of Daughters, a guest post by Mrs ‘Ski

Today’s guest post is from my dear Chatham friend and mama-to-be, Mrs. ‘Ski of Oh Yeah? Roger That!. Enjoy!

After we announced we were expecting, the very first person to predict a baby girl was Little Miss A. You may not know this, but A has a successful track record of predictions, but the majority of our circle was leaning towards a son. B, better known as the author of this blog, made sure to remind me of Little Miss A’s prediction just before our third attempt at a sonogram. After the tech’s announcement and the excitement settled a bit, I thought of that prediction and how B and I would soon be in the same boat, the mother of a daughter.
Of course when we announced it was a girl, comments poured in about how cute girls’ clothes are, how easy they are to shop for, etc. While all very true, there is so much more to the relationship of a daughter and her mom, sticky, complex things that scare the bejeezus outta me, things you don’t think about right away unless you were expecting a boy. : ) I think I’ll feel better if I get it all out there. Here we go.

The how do I style a 3 y/o’s hair breakdown.
The I want my Daddy meltdown.
The I had a bad dream snuggle.
The you have to stop spoiling her talk.
The first bra shopping trip.
The your attitude is out of control and you are 11 talk.
The OMG you’re too young to have your period talk.
The how can you send 35,000 texts in one month talk.
The black nail polish really? talk.
The you can’t wear that in public talk.
The why is that your profile photo??
The we can’t afford that talk.
The sex talk.
The self respect talk.
The birth control talk.
The after-prom activities lecture.
The your boyfriend doesn’t deserve you talk.
The its called a breakup because its broken talk.
The her boyfriend isn’t much different than you, Dear talk.
The women’s colleges are great options talk.
The 80/20 wedding obligation talk.
The honeymoon is over first marital fight talk.
The life will never be stable and easy talk.
The she’s just like me realization.

And B and I may phone a friend for help on any or all of these, but its all for the love of daughters.

Mr. Ski and the ‘Lil Burghers…Mrs. Ski just told us she was expecting when we took this photo, so we have spared her the photo. 😉

Being An Aunt–Guest Post by ‘Rin

Since I will be away for work this week, I asked family and friends to help out. Today’s post is brought to you by Greg’s youngest sister, Nurin. Thank you for helping out this week!

Being an aunt is incredible. Having these amazing little people who are your family and who you love endlessly is so much fun. They are the cutest and I get to show everybody pictures of them all the time, and it’s great.

But being an absent aunt is really hard.

It’s so hard to form a relationship when I am lucky if I get to see them once a year. And that was before I joined the Peace Corps and came to Morocco.

Watching them grow up so fast only through pictures can be sad and frustrating.

Not knowing what is going on in their lives, the milestones that they’re passing, their likes and dislikes, it is not ideal.

But thanks to the great parents they have who document so much with pictures, blogs, facebook updates, I still feel like I get a part in their lives.

So, thank you B & G for the two little miracles you’re raising, being their aunt is one of my favorite aspects of my life.

Oh, and GO HEELS! 🙂

I will never live this down…but it was worth having Nurin post!

Guest Blog Post–Eliz

Today is a guest post from my friend Eliz (of SC and Yup, we’re having twins). Enjoy!

Since Bex and Greg are off on a mini Vegas vacay, i thought i’d share my thoughts on the Willis(north) 4.
I’ve known becky through 5 years and we’ve both changed immensely. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, but we’ve both made it through, and are better people for it. I’ve seen Becky change the most since Greg entered her life. They are truly a perfect pair. Arianna and Evan have just made their circle of love bigger, better, and stronger. Here’s what I’ve learned from them:

1. No matter the situation, there is ALWAYS some sort of resolution.

2. Where there is family, there is <3.

3. You choose your own family.

4. Becky and I CAN keep each other sane, through the trials and error of mommyhood, even from 10+ hours away.

5. We both love a good deal and will search it out. (though Bex is definitely the couponing queen!)

6. Children make great couples even better!

7. You don't need lots of $$ to have fun!

8. Moms cannot survive without our smart phones! hehe

9. Our husbands are the GREATEST!

10. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE. <3

Hope Becky and Greg are enjoying their vacay and the kids are having a blast with the grandparents!


Me and Eliz before we were mommies and when I was a southern gal she was still a newlywed. Wow how time flies!