White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup

This is one of the first recipes I started making when Bobby (my adorable husband) and I decided we were going to start this whole “kale” thing that Beyonce and the rest of the world were talking about. Eating healthy is not always fun, so I like this recipe a lot because it’s light and helps you get some greens in without wanting to die each bite.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 Cajun Andouille Sausages (or your preference) sliced thin*
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth (2 boxes)
  • 2 cups water (play it by ear may not need)
  • 2 cups kale stems removed and torn into 1” pieces (or half a bag)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

*If you are vegan, you can take out the sausage and only continue with beans and kale, maybe even add in sweet potato as a substitute for the sausage, as I’m typing this maybe next time we should just add sweet potato anyway!

How To:

Take a 3 qt or larger saucepan and

  • Heat the oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sausage and cook until browned (about 4 minutes each side). With a slotted spoon place the cooked sausage into a bowl to rest. Add a little more oil, and add the onion cooking until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mash one can of beans in a small bowl. Add mashed beans, broth, sausage, and water (if needed) to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  • Stir in remaining beans (left whole), kale, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer about 20 minutes, until kale is tender.
  • Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve

Shana Tova!

In what is most definitely a blanket generalization of Miami geography and cliche- Miami is where most of the hispanic community is based and on Miami Beach you come across a more transient crowd, but also it’s a high Jewish population.

So with that said when we were looking for preschools there was 1 or 2 Catholic options, but we wanted Montessori and we settled on this great preschool based out of a Temple.  I’m not very religious (we can discuss this later) but I come from a long long line of very rule abiding Catholics.  As you can imagine- this was a problem for certain members of my family.  But for us it wasn’t.  The school was packed with love and God is God people.

Well let’s circle back to the point.   We had been living on the beach for a couple years at this point, and right around Rosh Hashanah our car rides were filled with songs about apples and honey and Shabbat Shalom and we were happy.

Rosh Hashanah morning my daughter wakes up so excited and runs out of her room saying “Shana Tova mama Shana Tova, when are we going to Temple?” (Shana Tova means “a good year”).  I realized in the moment that it may have come time for a little talk.  Before I could get a round to it there was a knock at my door. I walk over and open it up.

There before me is a man dressed in a button down, dress pants, a hat and a full beard.  “Shana Tova” he begins, “Is your family Jewish?”  Traditionally these men are going around collecting money on the holiday.

“Good Morning,” I reply, “no I’m sorry we aren’t but…” I couldn’t finish my sentence before my daughter has come running to the front door.  She looks up at him smiling eyes wide open, “Shana Tova Rabbi!”

The man looks back at me in disgust like I am a dirty liar.  I laugh nervously, “No you see we send her to the Temple down the…”

She cuts me off again, “I love your Shofar” {for those who don’t know it’s a Ram’s horn used in certain Jewish ceremonies}.  Now this guy is looking at me.

I only had one thing left to say at this point, “Let me go get my checkbook”.

Let’s Just Say NO!

Over the weekend we celebrated my daughter, Dylan’s, 7th birthday with a big gymnastics party!   

I made the controversial decision this year to refrain from handing out goody bags to the kids.  Obviously, this did not make me very popular with the children.  I was the anti-Santa. I had so many adorable little 7 year olds coming up at me.  Each one would hug their mommy’s legs, eyes full of hope, voices timid as they said “um hi, Dylan’s mommy, thank you for the party, can I have my goody bag?”  I would gently come down to eye level with each one of their gorgeous little 7 year faces, and with a warm smile say “Nope!”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I enjoyed saying no.  I’m not a monster. Did I feel guilty about it? Sure didn’t.  Not even a tiny bit. It was a relief.  I had just nailed this party {Yes- I did!}.  I brought in Mickey and Minnie.  I even had Mal from the Descendants pop in as a special surprise.  There was pizza, popcorn chicken, cupcakes, cookies, and all the pirate’s booty you could ever want.  I drew a line in the sand- no goody bags.  

Goody bags? Why do we do this to ourselves?  Do we not have enough going on as parents?! Why are we adding this absurd “to-do” to our lists that are already endless.  We, as parents, should get a goody bags {I mean vodka} for throwing our awesome little assholes parties in the first place.  We are already coordinating and managing all their school schedules, projects, homework, and the like. Plus their after school activities including but not limited to making sure they do not overlap, driving them, carpooling, buying all the required equipment, and coaching fees.  We plan and get dinner on the table. We monitor whether their shoes fit for crying out loud. We have jobs. We have relationships. Agreeing to take on a party is a bold task in the midst of all of this.

If we so lovingly and generously throw them a party, why do we also have to give goody bags full of cheap little garbage to all the kids who attend? Who started that trend?

Am I cheap? Yes! But that is not the point here.  Let’s do the math:

  • I dedicate  $5 p/kid (which is a lot) for the goody bag.  
  • At 40 kids that’s $200 just in goody bags.  This is a lot of money.

What am I getting for $5 to put in each bag-  It’s going to be either a bundle of cheap little plastic toys in line with the theme of the day, or slime or a lego set that you will inevitably step on because it was too small for them to assemble and they got bored.

The only thing worse than paying and assembling the goody bags, is knowing that inevitably you are going to have a few left over and now what are you supposed to do with all of it? Throwing away always seems wasteful, so out of guilt and obligation you keep it.  This, Marie Kondo, is how we end up with a house full of things that spark no joy!

I not only refuse to hand out goody bags to my guests going forward BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY I request that you do not give my kids goody bags at your party.  

Am I ungrateful? I guess the argument can be made.  However you want to know the dirty truth- when you give my child a goody bag it has the lifespan of however long it remains in my child’s field of vision.  The second I can throw that away without them noticing- it’s gone. Gone! You read that correctly.

Is it because I am extremely eco-friendly? No! But since I had to give up my plastic straw in my iced coffee, I decided to have a zero tolerance policy for plastic crap in our home. 

What are goody bags? Essentially a cheap bundle of  plastic uselessness, all of which manage to spread into all the random areas of my home, and ending with the inevitable stamp to my couch.  You know what I am talking about those cheap stamps that are impossible to remove from a child’s skin without a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Don’t get me started on the stickers, mazes, straws, and candy.  I’m throwing it all away. No matter how nice you think it is. Stop being upset with me, you also want to throw out goody bags. Maybe not as quickly as I do, but you throw it all away as soon as you can.

I want us to stand together and agree we can take this off the list for future parties.  Save your money. Save the to-do. When you throw a party you’re not only entertaining my children for a significant amount of time but you are also feeding them.  They’re having a blast! That is the gift to them. It’s a win-win.  We should stand together as parents. No more goody bags. Say it with me NO MORE GOODY BAGS!  

 

Tales from a Camping Quitter

It was just a regular Wednesday night, and there we were eating dinner when my husband looks up and says, “Let’s take the kids and go on an RV this summer.” Naturally, my first reaction is to burst out laughing.  I mean you have to understand my husband is in no way Davy Crockett.   I love this man deeply, but he is a tech guy who has a deep affection for his laptop and internet. He has never been camping a day in his life, we don’t own a BBQ nor does he have or know how to use any pertinent camping equipment.

As for me, I am a bonafide city girl.  I understand the appeal of roughing it… for other people. However I could have told you before this trip with absolute certainty that I am not one of those people.  Perhaps it is my affinity for central air conditioning, non-communal hot showers, working WIFI, television, and of course a closing a door.  Call me crazy, I like a little luxury on my vacation.

Then, there are our children, Blake, 4, Dylan, 3, and Tristan 1 ½ . Only one is fully potty trained. I do more laundry in a week than a professional wash and fold does in a month.

Anyway to put the entire conversation in a nutshell, on June 27 my husband pulled up to our building in a 30 ft RV, and the trip began.

Here are 9 things I learned about myself, our family and ‘Merica on our trip

  1. Cruise America: when rookie or non-professional people want to rent an RV and cruise around America, this is where they go. The most common question we get is, where did you get the RV? Well we picked up our RV, Bertha, as I so affectionately named her, at Miami’s finest Cruise Americapick up point and we were off!
  2. There is such thing as RV envy.  I mean our RV was nice, Big Ups to Cruise America! But after having been now to more camping grounds than I thought I would ever see, I can tell you people have AMAZING RVs. These bad boys had rooms and beds for everyone, flat screen TVs, and all state of the art. I found myself looking at these RVs longingly (what was wrong with me).
  3. The elusive water heater. The first day we learned the hard way that once you hook into the “shore line” you should just turn your water heater on (if you plan to shower). My husband took the kids to the pool while I was preparing dinner. He came back and we were getting ready to bathe them (which is almost always like an episode of WWE) and we find the water is freezing. So to avoid this:

Make sure you turn that heater on. It takes about an hour to get going.

  1. The internet is not found everywhere. There may be the appearance of internet everywhere, however it’s like a dangling carrot when you are sitting on an RV in the middle of a campground. We burned through more than 10 gigs of data aboard Bertha. I got enough WIFI on one night to watch Netflix. Anyone who knows me, knows that getting through two weeks without any TV would be nearly impossible. Hi, my name is Cristina, and I’m a TV-aholic.
  2. I hate potty training. Potty training is only that much harder on a moving vehicle, and actually brings you to your knees begging your toddler for mercy. We had to make a pit stop for some groceries, particulary we had to find a coffee maker, coffee, and of course food. We stopped at a Winn Dixie, and my husband and I got all the essentials. At checkout, my semi-potty trained 3 year old looks at me in a panic and shouts “POO POO”, as she clenches her adorably plump butt. It’s one of those parenting moments where you don’t even have time to worry about the embarrassment, you just go into action. I put her over my shoulder and sprinted to the back of the Winn Dixie with a 3 year old chanting poo poo. We made it. As I strutted through the store, singing “poo poo in the potty” in my mind, I realized we still had ten more days before we returned to a reliable toilet.
  1. You can argue about poop. There is nothing fun about connecting a sewer pipe that transports the entire family’s “poo” and even less fun draining and disconnecting it. My husband tried to put a ban on pooping on the RV. This lasted an entire day. Again, call me crazy but I like a little privacy when I go. Our fight had us saying things like “you need to go poop in the community bathroom”, “No babe, please I need to have a little privacy when I go.” Married 7 years and proud to say that before this trip we never really discussed this. For those wondering, he stuck to his rule and never once dropped a deuce on Bertha.                                
  2. Camping is a way of life. We met quite a few great people on our journey, and through each conversation or simply just observing them it was clear this wasn’t their first rodeo.  One man even semi-mocked us by saying “Oh that’s your rental over there.” Yup sure is! We were shamed for having a rental! We walked with our heads held a little lower that day.
  3. I love my family.  Not that I didn’t know this before the trip.  However spending 24 hours a day with these 4 other people in a tiny 150 sq ft RV could drive anyone crazy.  Somehow we are closer than ever.  Were there times where we wanted to jump out of the RV while it was moving, yes.  We spent so much time in all these different places, together.  Definitely makes it one of the best trips of my entire life.
  4. I also really love hotels. 10 days in and life on Bertha was grinding on us. It was a very rainy day, the campground was covered in mud, and laundry was piling up. It was this glorious day that my husband looked at me and said “do you want to skip our next 2 campgrounds and go to a hotel tomorrow?” In that moment, I remembered why I loved him so deeply.  For he was not a camper either! The next day I used every ounce of data I could find to find a hotel.  We were no longer going to Berman, GA to stay in a campground we were going to Atlanta to stay at a hotel in. I have never been so happy to see a hotel in my entire life.  We opened the door to our room, and it hit me I was not the only one happy about being in a hotel:

 

 

My husband brought up Starbucks (naturally) and we went to dinner.  That night we relished in being camping quitters.

After all the “poo” I talked, I would do it again. Maybe not next summer… While camping is not my favorite thing in the world (had I mentioned that yet?) in a couple of years when the kids are a little bigger, I think an RV trip could definitely be our thing. However there’s no way it’s going longer than 6 days, got that husband? We all get a little uncomfortable go see amazing new places and just be together. Not bad. Actually sounds pretty dreamy. Until we meet again, Bertha.

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Surviving Cristina

Me in a Nutshell

I’m Cristina.  I’ve been married to my husband, Robert, for 10 years, and some would call him a saint.  I wouldn’t, I would actually make the argument that I should receive an award or something, but most people, most people would say he deserves a statue erected in his honor.  I loathe those people, but they’re probably not wrong.  We have three amazing children together, Blake (a girl) 7, Dylan (also a girl) 5 and Tristan (a boy) 4.  If you are wondering if he was named after Brad Pitt’s character in Legends of the Fall, the answer should be obvious.  If you are doing the math we had 3 kids 3 and under, and it is exactly as hard as that sounds.

I always wanted to be a writer.  But I was the first in my immediate family to have the opportunity to go to college, and writing seemed a little like a dream. Naturally, I went to law school {insert sad face emoji here} as this seemed logical, mature, responsible (at the time).  Fast forward through the some pretty brutal and boring years of my life, and I survived the bar and began practicing.  

Once I had Blake, I tried to work out a deal to work from home.  My boss shot this down, and my husband took this as an opportunity to keep me pregnant for what felt indefinitely but was just around 3 years.  I never went back to being a lawyer, because well, I hated it. Don’t feel bad for the law, it hated me too and I didn’t mind.  I decided to focus on my kids who were so little and time is just so precious.  Somewhere between changing Dylan and Tristan’s diapers or cleaning Blake’s poopy accidents (as potty training children is the bain of my existence) I realized that I needed something in my life that involved adult conversation and absolutely no one else’s bowel movements.  I launched an online business called Baby Love Luna where I sold baby and kid clothing and accessories.  I absolutely loved running my own business, and learning how it all works.  However it grew a little too big too fast, and then my kids grew a little too big too fast and I decided it was best to close down shop.  

Which brings me here.  Surviving Cristina.  On some days a guide for to survive life with a circus of monkeys that make demands and basically run your life.  On some days it’s daily observations and things I’ve learned along the way.  Most times it is a place for me to go and unleash all my thoughts so that my husband doesn’t have to pretend he is listening to my rants at night.

I’m a, wife to one, mother to three, self-diagnosed TV addict, a hater of fitness but a prisoner to it’s benefits, home cook, with a nonexistent organizational habit and just trying to survive this life.  

Welcome to the madness.

Every week (if I can) I send out an email with some cool articles, recipes, book recommendations, or just shit that flat out made me die laughing.  If you want to receive Surviving Weekly just sign up here.