Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Cassoulet – but not really


I have no idea what to call this dish. And honestly, I’m mainly blogging it because we liked it and Steve said he will be all sad panda if I can’t replicate so I need to commit it to blog before I forget. Because like many things around here, I made it up. And it isn’t really a cassoulet because that is slow cooked and has duck parts and pork skin and other things we don’t keep in the fridge at Chez Smiles. And you all think I’m fancy because I insist you use real garlic. But because it had pork sausage and white beans cassoulet came to mind so there you have it. How about Cassoulet-ish?


1 lb smoked pork sausage links (you know everything is interchangeable in my recipes what what you have – this was from my CSA)

1 bell pepper – whatever color you prefer…I used red

1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin or diced

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used muir glen brand – and if you are a regular, you know I hate chunks and pureed them)

1 cup chicken broth

1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

1 box frozen, chopped spinach, cooked and water squeezed out – or 1 bag fresh spinach

3 cloves garlic

2 shakes Italian seasoning

Slice sausage into bite sized pieces. Saute. Add onions and peppers. Cook 2 – 3 minutes. Add everything else. Allow to simmer on the stove for 15 minutes. Done.

I served it over cheesy grits (made with some sharp cheddar and smoked paprika). But we decided it would also taste good over brown rice or quinoa. Steve also suggested cous cous but I was less excited by that idea.

It isn’t pretty but was yummy, could be easily made gluten free if you buy GF sausage, and was pretty darn easy to throw together.

**And before someone gets her panties in a twist that I am serving my family gigantic portions (yes, people have commented on those kinds of things), please notice the beans for scale. This is a dessert plate, not a dinner plate.




posted under food | 4 Comments »

I don’t do Spring Cleaning


I actually don’t do much cleaning at all. Just enough that we don’t live in total filth. I don’t like to clean. I don’t even do it very well. I do the regular required things but the above and beyond spring cleaning stuff? Nope. Base boards only get scrubbed when they start looking like a different color than they were meant to be. Walls never get scrubbed – I just vacuum cobwebs when they become apparent. Windows get cleaned when I notice they exist (meaning dirty enough that they are slightly obscuring my view of the outside world). But I do occasionally make up for those short falls by doing other things. I’ve been tackling neglected projects this week.

It all started when we finally got our TV off the end table it had been perched on for the past 18 months. The DVR, Xbox, and DVD player were piled underneath. It was klassy. But when we moved the TV, we couldn’t decide what to put on the wall above the TV. None of our art worked. We looked at some wrought iron pieces and some metal scutlpure but none were It. We still haven’t found The Piece…but we will some day. For now, I found some mirrors at Ikea that will work as a place holder. BUT. But. They required a t-square, level, and math to hang. Steve didn’t get to it as fast as I wanted so I did it. And now they are driving me insane. The top left one is just a smidge too low. And the third one on the bottom won’t stay straight on its nail. All I do is stare at them. (And there will be some major spackle required when we take them down. I might have had to redo several. Or a lot.)

(I’m also currently in love with Instagram which was finally released for Android.)


One my friends and board members for Small Comforts, Joy, organized a yard sale to benefit Small Comforts – we made $1000! So exciting! We will put some of it toward our IRS 501c3 application fees. The rest will likely go toward some initial printing costs and getting some bags going. The yard sale and a small shopping trip to Old Navy prompted me to start cleaning out our walk in closet which has been clogged with boxes since we moved in. Just when I was about to get them unpacked, we decided we were moving. Now that the move is off, we can finally start living here. So our closet is lovely! Just need to install a few more shelves on 1 wall for shoes and sweaters.


I’ve hated our door since we moved in. The screen doors are ugly and don’t fit well. The front door was ok but the grid on the windows was never painted and had turned a funky yellowish color and the door was putty white. Just blah. We are in the process of ordering new storm doors for the front and back doors (goodbye tax return). And it is a process. You can buy a gun faster than a screen door. I picked out the door I wanted. It had bright, shiny, ugly brass hardware but the picture showed brushed nickel was available. The guy tells us that nickel hardware is a custom order and an extra $40. Custom? Really? For the only option that is slightly in fashion at this point? No one has wanted shiny brass since 1989. And the custom factor means they have to come our and measure for the door before they will order it – another $35. After they come out and measure, we have to return to the store to order the door and sign a contract. So because I don’t want my door to look like I ordered it in the 80’s, it will cost me another $75, require another trip to the store, and take an additional 2-3 weeks. Thanks Pella and Lowe’s. That makes me a happy customer (where is that damned sarcasm font when I need it?).

I decided new storm doors deserved a decent looking front door. I was going to paint it white but our house is rather blah outside – pale grey with white trim. I wanted the door to pop. I thought about red but everyone has a red door now. So I went deep purple. I still have to do another coast and touch up the white.


Around Thanksgiving, the cold water faucet in my powder room started dripping. I knew what the problem was – a part that was impossible to track down for a cheap builder’s faucet. Another faucet did the same thing last year. That time, I called the handyman we use for repairs and he replaced it. He is fabulous but I try to have a list of things for him to do when he comes since he charges by the hour and the first hour is pretty steep. I decided we could do it ourselves. We bought a faucet and it sat in the closet. The drip became a stream and I had to turn the cold water off completely. Steve didn’t want anything to do with it so I finally decided it was up to me. I watched You Tube videos and read the directions in the box. I bought a basin wrench and new supply lines. I started the job. No one told me how much of plumbing is brute strength. I did the faucet without any real problem but the supply lines weren’t come loose for anything. Steve tried. Not budging. So old supply lines stayed and were connected to new faucet. It works. No leaks. I was ridiculously proud.





Our newest family member


My sister in law and her husband just adopted this beautiful baby boy. The girls and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go and meet him when spring break rolled around. So up north we headed. When preparing for the trip, I decided that I was done with listening to 12 hours of Disney. I wanted my radio back. That meant headphones for the girls. Tessa was either going to have to get on board with it or watch movies with no sound. I wasn’t budging on this issue. Let’s just acknowledge that Tessa watched a lot of movies with no sound. But momma got to listen to books on CD instead of Disney and felt much more sane at the end of the drive. Win! (Wicked was my book of choice. 17 discs. Still not finished – 1 1/2 discs left. I’ve tried to read it several times and had trouble getting into it. I find I can get through a book on CD much more easily.) (Also speaking of books, spent all week reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63. I’m more than halfway through and I have to say BEST KING BOOK IN AT LEAST A DECADE.  Loving it after struggling through so many of his more recent books.)

I can not describe the joy of seeing my sister in law and her husband realize their dream of becoming parents. It has been a very long journey for them – but that is not my story to tell. Pat is just so excited and Krista just looks so content and complete. So amazing to see. And the baby is such a sweet boy! Our family is very blessed. The girls were enchanted with him and now want to play with baby dolls where they never have before.

The girls had a great time hanging with family up north. I enjoyed seeing everyone. Easter was full of dying eggs, eating candy, and hunting eggs. A good time was had by all. And the girls cried when it was time to return home. Poor Steve was left all alone for the week so he was quite happy when we returned.


posted under family, travel | 4 Comments »