09/28/14

Butternut squash pasta sauce

If social media hasn’t let you in on the secret yet….
IT’S FALL, YA’LL!

And for reasons other than pumpkin-everything, fall is my absolutely favorite time of the year. 
It’s a chance to whip out hearty recipes like this one; even though it’s still 90 degrees outside. 

So if you’re a blog reader from a part of the world that truly DOES get a fall, this recipe will be the perfect dish for those crisp and cool Sunday evenings. And if you’re like me, in an area of the world where fall is only in swing because the calendar says so, well, lower your AC and pretend. You won’t get a chance to look at fall leaves cascading down your window as you eat this gorgeous pasta sauce, but you can do your best to pretend. ;)

Butternut squash pasta sauce
This hearty, sweet, yet savory pasta sauce would be amazing over so many things other than pasta. I used potato gnocchi and sliced Italian turkey sausage for this recipe, but feel free to get creative with this versatile cream sauce (and don’t forget to send me pics of what you come up with!). 

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, seeded, diced and steamed (you can also buy the steam-in-the-bag kind)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
the juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 fresh basil leaves, chopped (save extra basil for a garnish)
1 fresh sage leaf, chopped
1 tsp. salt (reserve more to taste)
1 tsp. cracked black pepper (reserve more to taste)
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. raw honey
1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1/2 and 1/2)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Directions

In a sauce pan over medium heat, saute onions, carrots and celery in a bit of butter until soft. Add garlic and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add butternut squash, fresh herbs, honey, lemon juice and seasonings. Stir to combine, and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour the contents into blender and blend until smooth. While still in the blender, add chicken stock. Blend to combine, then return to pot and reheat. When hot, remove from the stove top and stir in heavy cream. Serve over your favorite pasta with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese and basil ribbons. Enjoy!

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09/7/14

#BeBrave

brave
adjective
ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

What comes to mind when you hear the word “brave?”
A firefighter? Police officer? Soldier? 

We all understand what it means to be brave in those aspects, and appreciate and honor those who dedicate their lives to defend, help and protect us each and every day. They are true heroes and display braveness, above all else, in their daily lives. 

However I’m here to recognize a different form of brave. 
A quiet form that often gets overlooked. 
An internal brave that many people must endure at some point in their lives.
Probably one of the most difficult situations where one may ask you to “be brave”. 

When my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 of an aggressive form of breast cancer, we knew we would need to encourage her to be brave. It was important for her to stay positive; to keep hopeful; to trust her doctors.

When she courageously underwent weeks of chemo, radiation, surgeries, and days where she just could not get out of bed, we would encourage her to be brave. And on that last week, when the outcome was inevitable, we would continue to tell my mother to be brave.

My mother bravely fought for her life until her last breath, and above all else, that is what I remember her for most. My mother was strong and outgoing; fun and positive. She was SCUBA certified, and wasn’t afraid to try new things. She was all about grabbing life and making the most out of it. She was one of the bravest people I had ever met. 

I often think about my mother in moments where I need to find my own braveness, and because of all that she went through, I have adopted this motto for my own life and for #TeamJudy. Because being brave is what makes life worth living. 

Being brave is about fighting against the things that try to take life from us. 
It’s about staying strong and positive; even through the roughest of life’s moments. 
It’s about being there for the ones you love. 
It’ about going for your goals and the things you want. 
Being brave isn’t about being fearless. Being brave is about feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. 

If you’d like to show your support for #TeamJudy and our #BeBrave campaign, please consider ordering one of our upcoming race shirts. We’ll be wearing these as we Race for the Cure in October. 

usethisforblog
09/5/14

So much to say, so much to say

Hi! ::waves::

10653826_10152741414787474_8646149832800265194_nSorry I’ve been so MIA around the blogahood. A LOT has been going on, and life has been anything but calm!

But that’s the way it always goes with the start of a new school year. I must say this is one of the smoothest starts I’ve ever had. I’m still working in that hybrid position as teacher/instructional coach. I’m teaching 6th grade science for three periods each day. The remaining periods are dedicated to helping teachers grow professionally. It’s my 2nd year in this role, and I still love it; even more so this year because I know what to expect! 

In between getting to know my new students and falling into a steady fall routine at work, there was an evening at the Summer of Rum Festival. It was H-O-T, but the drinks were ice cold, and we were able to escape the heat a few times inside the gorgeous Cuban Club in Ybor. 

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There was also a surprise party for my Uncle Marty’s 50th birthday at Hula Bay in South Tampa! My aunt Bernadine and I had been planning it for a few weeks and were so excited that HE was so excited (and surprised!). It was an awesome time with good food, cold drinks, and our closest family and friends. 

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I also teamed up with Callie, from The Wannabe Athlete , for a week of clean eating and a month-long trial (thanks to a teacher friend) of Shakeology and can’t wait to share my thoughts with you guys! My goal for this week is to try and cut back on my dairy intake. Eating NSNG means I rely on cheese a LOT for snacks and such. I’ll be looking for some salty alternatives to help cut the dairy a bit!

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And…we purchased our first camper! During our last camping trip at Ft. Desoto, we decided that we were done with the world of tent-camping and needed an upgrade. After shopping for a few weeks, and being totally disappointed with what our budget was bringing us, we found this little pop-up for a steal! It’s in AWESOME condition, sleeps 4-5 comfortably, has AC, running water, an outdoor stove and lots of storage! We’re going to test it out in a few weeks on our first camping trip with our new home away from home! 

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And last, I had a little snafu in the way of minor surgery…

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10676293_10152750372152474_8533464641680924648_nI’ve always had this “bump” on my shin, which I always attributed to a softball injury from high school. I got hit with a line drive to the shin area which left me with a long-lasting bruise and quite the bump for a few months. The bruise eventually went away, but the bump always kind of hung around. When it started causing me some pain over the summer, I decided to have it checked out. An X-ray, sonogram, an MRI and a visit with a specialist later, and well, the rest is history. The MRI showed that it was nothing terribly serious to worry about and that it could be scar tissue or some type of fatty cyst. Either way, bone and bone tissue looked clear, as well as the surrounding muscle tissue. It was definitely benign and the only reason my doctor suggested we remove it is because it was causing me discomfort. As much as I hated to take off a couple of days so close to the beginning of the school year, I wanted to go ahead and get the procedure over with. Aside from some anxiety from putting in the IV (my first!), and some post-op nasuea from the general anesthesia, it went well. Today I’m resting up in front of the tv with an ice pack, lots of ice cold LaCroix, and some pain medication. I should be good as new (I hope!) within a week or so! :)

So what have YOU been up to lately? Do share! 

Steph :)

08/18/14

Dear Teachers,

Dear Teachers,

As we approach the start of a brand new school year, I can feel the excitement in the air. I hope that everyone has had a restful summer, and that you are all prepared, motivated and excited to make this the BEST year yet!

My wish for all of you this year is to remember what inspired you to go into this profession when you first decided to take this path. Did you want to make a difference? Did you want to be a role model? Did you want to play a part in developing the future of our country?

Whether this is your first year or your 40th, as the new school year begins, I encourage you to dig deeply and remember those first moments of deciding to become an educator.

It takes love and courage to be a teacher. No matter what is thrown at us each year, we pick ourselves up and return; thinking of ways we can learn from the challenges of the past. We go to sleep brainstorming ideas to motivate, inspire and create learning environments that help our population. We wake up with headaches, runny noses, and personal problems. Yet we get dressed, get in our cars and drive to school. And on the days when life becomes too much and we must take a “mental health day,” we spend time preparing plans and activities to ensure that our students are productive while we’re out. We are constantly thinking, planning, worrying, and wanting the best for our students, as if they were our own family.

And even on the most frustrating of days… even when dealing with the most frustrating of students… even when stressing about the most frustrating of policies… we return each year, because we love this profession, and have the courage to continue to try and make a difference.

The courage we carry helps to support students who are overlooked and undervalued. We will face children with the odds stacked up against them. They might live in poverty. They might have gone to bed hungry the night before. They might not have a place to call home. And although these factors may impact how they interact and deal with their world, our willingness to be there for them, go the extra mile for them, and provide a structured, safe, comforting, and meaningful learning environment for them, day after day, is something they really do appreciate; even if they don’t express it in a conventional way.  As teachers we must have the courage and faith to believe that the long hours, meticulous planning, and effort that we put into our profession is truly making a difference in the lives of our students.

No matter what our students walk through the door with this school year, we must show each and every one of them that we care. We want them to feel empowered. We want them to feel like they’re someone important.  

This year I challenge you to greet each and every one of your students as they walk through your classroom door. To laugh and have fun with them. To reach out to someone if you need help. To know that it’s ok to have a “bad” day. To have the courage to love them, because you may be the only one who does.

To be that teacher that your students will always remember.

Best wishes for an amazing 2014-2015 school year,
Stephanie

teacher quote

08/10/14

Key West Inspiration

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow I will have my alarm set bright and early for the start of another exciting school year! 

And although this summer has been BUSY, to say the least, there were some fun moments sprinkled in between trainings, leadership retreats and back to school planning meetings. 

There was that little getaway my gentleman and I took back in June. 

Birthday and 3rd anniversary adventures

Lots of trips to the beach and the pool. 

And just last week, we drove down to the Florida Keys for our annual Key West lobstering trip! Continue reading

08/9/14

Mango Habanero Hot Sauce/Marinade

This hot sauce can be easily used as a marinade or a sauce!  The mango and honey give it just enough sweetness to balance out the spice, and the cilantro gives it a bit of freshness to really liven up the flavor of the sauce!

You can kick up the heat by leaving some of the seeds/ribs of the habanero peppers in, or milder by removing all of them.  Continue reading

08/8/14

The Confidence Bucket List

One of my favorite bloggers, Emmie, From Authentically Emmie has recently brought up this topic: The Confidence Bucket List. She got the idea from another blogger, Brittany, from Brittany Herself.  We’ve all heard of the infamous “bucket list”, but this is a neat little spin on the concept. 

What are 10 things you hope to one day have the confidence to do?

Interesting topic, eh?
I’ve never really compiled a bucket list, but I’m constantly setting new (non-weightloss) goals for myself. I think life without a challenge is boring, and I’m always trying to find new ways to make life fun and interesting. 
For example, just this week I tried boxing for the first time! Continue reading

08/7/14

Budget friendly workout wear: and a GIVEAWAY!

You shouldn’t feel the need to take out a second mortgage on your house in order to afford workout wear. There are endless options out there for clothing that is breathable, comfortable, appropriate…and cute! ;) 

And although there are plenty of options to choose from, there are a few things you do need to consider before swiping that credit card.  Continue reading