My New Hobby : Do-It-Yourself

Being a Single Mom, I don’t have a ‘guy around the house’ who could indulge himself in a bit of DIY to fix all those little maintenance annoyances. So I have had to strike out on my own into this male-dominated past-time. This is where the internet is invaluable. You can learn just about anything when it comes to…well, anything! So as any aspiring DIY-er knows, it’s all about the power tools…arr, arr! And I have learnt a great deal over the last few hours of researching how to use them to sort out some pretty common house maintenance problems, so very soon I will need to take a trip to my local Home Depot to get myself all geared up. However, one problem I have been struggling with is what sort of power system to power to tools should I invest in : electric or air-powered. Certainly, electric-power tools seem to be the easiest solution, but on the other hand, air-powered tools are less expensive particularly if you are going to need a bunch of them because they can all run off the same ‘power’  from the air compressor, which has ultimately sold me on the ‘air power’. But if you are like me, and are struggling with your decision on which air compressor to buy, then once again, the internet to the rescue, in my case I found this air compressor review site to be particularly well thought out. Happy DIY-ing!

A fruit bowl that WON’T function as a mixing bowl!

I was at a loss for a subject for “Works for Me Wednesday” today, so I asked my 15 year-old daughter. She had a quick answer: “A fruit bowl that can’t be a mixing bowl!”

You see, every time I buy a nice fruit bowl to put out on our kitchen island, I end up snagging it for a mixing bowl. And then I end up with no place to put the fruit – which apparently really annoys my daughter!

Recently I was in a TJ Maxx store, and saw this:


which I bought as it fitted my idea of a true fruit bowl. It turns out that my daughter was right because today I needed a mixing bowl and since this was empty I tried to use it for this unintended purpose. As you can imagine, things did not go smoothly (pun not intended 🙂 ), and I soon had cake mix all over the kitchen table as it constantly toppled over … should have bought a mixing bowl that also functions as a fruit bowl instead!

Menu Plan for April 11-17 and Tuscan Soup Recipe


Sunday Tuscan Soup (Recipe below)

Monday Black Bean Burritos

Tuesday Breakfast for Dinner

Wednesday Chicken breasts with balsamic pan sauce

Thursday Leftovers

Friday Farfalle with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce (from Simply Recipes)

Saturday Fish, brown rice, and brussel sprouts

Breakfasts: Oatmeal pancakes with blueberry sauce, oatmeal with fruit, cold cereal

Lunches: Quesadillas, leftovers, smoothies, sandwiches

I am madly in love with the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden. I think that it and the tiramisu are the only reasons to eat at Olive Garden.

This week is “make the most of what you’ve got” week for us (meaning it’s not strictly “eat from the pantry and freezer”, but the less I can buy to round out what I’ve got, the better). I have been meaning to try my hand at a soup inspired by, but not entirely copied from (that’s no fun!) the Olive Garden soup. I had Italian sausage in the freezer, and I had spinach — I had planned kale in this, but spinach was what I had. And that worked out just fine.

This is what I came up with, and MAN was it yummy.

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 Tbs shallots, diced
3 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
3 15oz. cans chicken broth (fat free)
2 cup water
1 potato, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
3 Tbs basil, chopped
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk

Fry sausage in a large sauce pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels. In the same pan, cook shallot and garlic until translucent. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add broth and water and turn heat to medium. Add sausage back to pan and add potato. Cook until potato is done, then add the spinach. Finish with the evaporated milk and serve.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 180 calories, 109 calories from fat, 12.1g total fat, 29.6mg cholesterol, 741.1mg sodium, 304.4mg potassium, 6.2g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 8g protein.

And now we have 2 more meals’ worth of this tasty soup in the freezer!

I also served homemade bread sticks. I used Lynn’s 40-minute Rolls recipe, but I cut it in half — I used a whole egg, and added a little extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the egg. I shaped them into snake-shapes by rolling balls of dough between my palms, like you would with play dough, and then baked them. After they were done, I sprayed them lightly with butter-flavor nonstick spray, and sprinkled them with a little bit of garlic salt. They were fantastic!

Everyone except my pickiest eater loved this soup (and that pickiest eater doesn’t like ANY soup). We will definitely be having this again!