My Other More Exciting Self

Farm Raised, Shoe Enthusiast, Turkey Talker, Wine Lover, Mom

The Many Faces of Joe during 6th grade math homework | via

Thursday night has commenced and it’s just Joe and me around home tonight. Teacher Man has his second night of parent-teacher conferences this week so he will be rolling in later, presumably exhausted but no less excited about the weekend coming up than we are.

Here are the Thursday night particulars thus far:

  • Pizza: Domino’s. (We only order this when Teacher Man isn’t home because he’s not a big fan.)
  • Homework: Math. (Wish me luck. See also the many faces of Joe doing homework above.)
  • Practice: Piano and percussion. (I am infinitely more helpful in these areas.)
  • TV: NFL football on mute (Sound interferes with math homework concentration.)

As for the rest of the week, here are five highlights:

Animal Print Heels | via

Yes, animal print heels are definitely on the highlight reel for a multitude of reasons, of which I’ll state three. 1) I don’t get to wear these all that often (my office is pretty casual on a day-to-day basis); 2) I walked into the Madewell store at Mall of America wearing these shoes and the store clerks gushed over how cute they were and how they had to be J.Crew. (For the record, these are Nine West heels and I paid much, much less for them than any pair of shoes J.Crew offers); and 3) Since I was filling in for the boss at an event on Tuesday, I had to wear my most boss shoes. (Get it?) ;)

Nars lip crayon | via

As long as we’re talking fashion, I am going to share that I’ve been trying out a new red lipstick to inject more color into my face this fall. (I mentioned my obsession with lip color here.) I was given a sample of NARS Lip Pencil in “Cruella” and I must admit I’m kind of digging it. I’m usually wary of red lip color, mostly because it’s hard to find the right shade and it needs to glide on pretty smoothly, which if it doesn’t, it could really age me. (Hence the whole “Cruella” thing.) But with all that said, this little experiment has been fun.

Earl the Pug | via

Have I mentioned that years ago we should’ve set up Earl the Pug with his own social media accounts so that we could pose him in different ways every day and post the pictures? (This would’ve also, I’m sure, led to a full-time job as his marketing coordinator and we would be selling an Earl the Pug calendar on Amazon by now.) But alas, this did not happen. Instead, we just goof around and take pictures of, for example, Earl “doing” math homework and post these on Instagram where Earl has more fans than I do.

Earl the Pug | via

This is Earl the Pug every single morning, watching his beloved Joe Man walk down the street to catch the bus. What you didn’t see this morning, however, was a text that came in five minutes later when Joe declared that he had somehow managed to miss the bus. I picked him up (in my car, wearing pajamas and slippers), and he did indicate that he walked with purpose, mostly, except for this one moment where he stopped to look at something for no more than 10 seconds – or well, maybe it was 30 seconds. This was also apparently the exact moment the bus drove by – without him.

My Girl Morgan | via

And finally … this face! My niece Morgan went to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with her mom and Grandma Marilyn today and all I got was this photo by text. ;) Ha! Apparently this morning, as her mom was getting her ready, she suddenly said “Shhhhh!” When her mom asked her why she should be quiet, Morgan pointed upstairs and said “Joe-Lawa!” as if we were sleeping at her house. This girl is too funny!

That’s all, kids – hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Lara (also known as “Joe-Lawa”)


Turkey Tuesday: Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Turkey Italian Sausage | via

Here’s my deal with Turkey Tuesday. I want to show you some unexpected ways to switch to turkey in recipes that are not only delicious but also relatively easy to make and (generally) family friendly.

That’s not asking for too much, is it?

I didn’t think so. :)

Take The Pioneer Woman’s Three-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce. I switched out the pork Italian sausage for turkey Italian sausage and voila! You’ve got yourself a winning Turkey Tuesday recipe!

Truth be told, tonight I actually completely switched up this recipe using the homemade tomato sauce I made using this recipe, which happens to be amazing and a game-changer for me in terms of using extra home-grown tomatoes. (I eliminated the additional garlic and basil in the original recipe for the stuffed shells because the sauce already had plenty of both.)

If you don’t have homemade tomato sauce, then by all means follow the recipe below as I have made it before – it’s equally delicious. (Bonus tip: I put this together the night before and kept it in the fridge until supper the next day. Or, you could easily freeze this for much later use, as well.)

And whatever you do, please don’t forget the Italian turkey sausage (sweet or hot, depending on your preference). It’s the most important part!


Turkey Tuesday: Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Turkey Italian Sausage | via

Turkey Tuesday: Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Turkey Italian Sausage | via

Three Cheese Stuffed Shells with Turkey Sausage Meat Sauce

  • 8 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • 30 ounces (2 containers) Ricotta Cheese (I used part skim)
  • 8 ounces Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
  • 1/2 cup Grated Asiago Cheese (or Romano would be another good option)
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 12 leaves Basil
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 pound Italian Turkey Sausage (remove meat from casings)
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1 whole (28 Oz. Size) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 whole (15 Oz. Size) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time (do not overcook). Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for 1-2 minute.

Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; you can add crushed red peppers if you want this more spicy.

In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.

To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

I am part of Jennie-O’s Switch Circle of bloggers, but I do not get paid for my posts. I do receive some complimentary turkey products to try upon occasion. Opinions and topics are entirely my own.

Contrary to popular myth, gardens are still growing and flowers are still blooming in Minnesota this time of year. Granted, it won’t be long before we get a hard freeze and we’ll be putting the gardens to bed for the winter. For now, though, there are still plenty of blooms to enjoy before that happens.

Garden Walk-About | October Edition | via #gardenchat #gardening

My Mammoth Mum is on its second round of blooms – I cut it back in late July and now it is completely full of color again.

Garden Walk-About | October Edition | via #gardenchat #gardening

I never tire of looking at my Queen Red Lime zinnias.

Garden Walk-About | October Edition | via #gardenchat #gardening

Rudbeckia (I think this one is ‘Herbstsonne’ ) is always a stellar fall flower – this particular plant is well over 7-feet tall and makes a lovely backdrop in the corner of one of my gardens.

Garden Walk-About | October Edition | via #gardenchat #gardening

I love the feathery plumes of Miscanthus grass in the fall, as well – I leave this plant up all winter long because it creates a beautiful backdrop against the snow. (Then I just cut it back down in the spring.)

Garden Walk-About | October Edition | via #gardenchat #gardening

Another mum – this one vibrant purple!

Garden Walk-About | October Edition | via #gardenchat #gardening

Even my rose bush hasn’t given up on fall yet. :)

Garden Walk-About | October Edition | via #gardenchat #gardening

And of course, sedum is in its glory in the late summer / fall … this particular plant borders our garden shed.

What’s still blooming in your garden this time of year? Do you like fall garden prep, or are you like me, and get (ahem) a little bit lazy in the fall? Truth be told, I do some cutting back of perennials and shrubs in the fall, but I never get everything done that I probably should. I’m much more motivated in the spring to get out in the gardens, after a long, cold winter! :)


How was your weekend?

We had gorgeous fall weather here in Minnesota – sunny and 60s for temps, plus not too windy. While my favorite season is summer, I will say that October weekends like we just had are quite stunning. I only hope we have a few more of these days before the early stages of winter make an appearance.

(College football side note: The U of MN Gophers lost abysmally to Northwestern but Teacher Man’s Iowa Hawkeyes strolled out of UW-Madison with a win, so at least one of us was happy.)

(Pro football side note: Vikings lost, but not nearly as bad as we thought the game would be. Which I guess is  saying … something?)

And now, without further ado, my weekend in a few snaps:

Weekend Snaps | via

#Harvest15 has kicked into high gear and this was my view Saturday morning while going for a run. I love the smells of harvest, which maybe sounds weird but there are certain scents that just remind me of growing up on the farm and the combines getting rolling this time of year.

Weekend Snaps | via

The farmer in the above photo was harvesting soybeans. This is the corn in a nearby field.

Weekend Snaps | via

My mom surprised me with this adorable Halloween quilt! Teacher Man drove out to the farm Saturday morning to “sight in” his gun so that he’s all ready for deer hunting season in November. He came home after lunch with this quilt. Not a bad deal all the way around! (Thanks, Mom!)

Weekend Snaps | via

Ah, yes. This is what weekends are for, my friends. Teacher Man got back from the farm and we decided a little mini-date to the local Buffalo Rock Winery was in order. We tried a new cranberry wine (above – good if you like cranberries and not as sweet as you might think) and a dry white called Blond Bomber, which we really liked.

Weekend Snaps | via

Meanwhile, Joe had a friend over for a sleepover and the two spent a solid 5 minutes in the kitchen concocting this “premier” junk food mix: Cheez Its, Doritos, Popcorn and two kinds of Pringles.

Boys. And these two are peas in a pod – so funny to hang with.

Weekend Snaps | via

It wouldn’t be the weekend if I didn’t bake something. (I know, I know … but I can’t help it.) When I saw this Apple Fritter Cake recipe, I knew I had to make it. I have a thing for apple fritters and I also have a thing for cake so what could go wrong? :)

Which brings me to tonight … a piece of Apple Fritter Cake (okay, my 2nd piece of cake – #NoJudging) and the season premieres of Madam Secretary and The Good Wife. A good ending to a pretty great weekend.

I’ll be back soon with a fall garden update and another turkey recipe!


As we wind down at our house with pizza, wine, and football (oh, and some math homework) on a Thursday night, I am pleased that the weekend is almost upon us. I am also pleased that I will be getting a new Macbook Pro laptop for my office tomorrow as I am beyond tired of not having enough “OOMPH” in my current computer to do much of anything.

That said, here are a few fun and/or interesting photos/links to kick off the first weekend in October:

Why I love Ina Garten: because she is real and she does things herself. “There isn’t a letter, there isn’t a recipe, there’s no photograph, there isn’t a font, there isn’t a color, there isn’t a detail that I don’t totally do myself.” That includes her Facebook page and Instagram account. If you are a Barefoot Contessa fan, then you will want to read this article.

In case you have ever wondered if I eat any other protein besides turkey and eggs, I give you this photo, which showcases what we threw on the grill last weekend. Two mega-huge, gorgeous ribeyes that, if we followed nutritional rules, would feed about 10 people at 4 ounces each. (Reality check: they fed two people at two meals.)

Ribeye steaks

These two cuties. Pardon me while I get all veklempt at how sweet and adorable it is that Miss Morgan loves her cousin Joe sooooo much (and vice versa). :)


I’m going to throw one work-related link in here this week because it’s just THAT good. This infographic busts 6 myths about chicken production – including the ever-present hormones/steroids thing. (Not true. And actually illegal.) Can we start spreading the actual truth, please? #FactsNotFear

And finally … a #FlashbackFriday photo of two cousins – one blonde, one brunette – growing up together in the 197os. I’d like you to meet Christine, my cousin and arguably my oldest friend as she and I are just 6 months apart in age. We have decades of memories full of secrets, giggles, sleepovers, and silly antics and I am so lucky she is in my life!


Have a great weekend, everyone!


P.S. I’m linking up with Diary of a Real Housewife this week!

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