I shared a guest post with you yesterday from MeLissa Hicks. I shared it because I can relate to it. Her sense of what was normal was different from everyone else’s perception of the term. I think we all have a different “normal.”

When I was younger I thought everybody had broken families; I had exactly two friends whose parents were still together when I was in high school and remain so to this day. I’ve seen my best friend’s parents dance in their living room to music that nobody else was listening to while their kids teased them about how “mushy” and “gross” they were. That is what is supposed to be normal, but to me it was strange and wonderful considering my parents (& most of my friends’ parents) were divorced & both remarried. My childhood normal was…tense…and you can bet I never saw any combination of my two sets of parents slow dancing in the living room like they actually loved each other. That sweet moment with my friend’s parents is one that has always stuck with me & I hope someday I’ll hear my kids complaining about how gross their dad and I are.

As tense as things were when I was a child, as I got older I began to notice and appreciate how close certain parts of my family are. I believe my mother’s side of the family in particular is how we got through a lot of heavy things. My granddaddy was there every single time my mom, his brothers, one of his grandchildren or anyone else he loved needed him. There was not a thing he owned that we couldn’t have also. My grandmother had the kindest soul & the sweetest spirit. She was also, sometimes unintentionally, the funniest person I knew. My mom is like the best parts of both of them. She is the strongest & most wonderful woman I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, and she raised my siblings and I to always love and care for each other no matter what. She has come literally halfway across the world to be with me when I needed her, and even when we don’t necessarily agree we respect & support each other. My family is very loving & supportive, so I was appalled to learn that not everyone is similarly blessed. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I suppose I always knew it, but I didn’t really let it sink in until I was an adult.

I have friends whose families disregard their very existence and won’t lift a finger to help them unless there is something in it for them. I don’t understand how families can be that way toward one another. I understand tough love, but what I’m talking about has nothing to do with love of any kind. Sadly, it’s more common than I’d like to believe and in this situation, I know my family is the odd one. I’ve had several people tell me they have never met another family like mine; so eager to help & lacking the usual squabbling & family drama that has come to be depressingly common in other families. We have our share of dysfunction, for sure, but my grandparents & great grandparents made sure our roots were so firmly planted that there isn’t anything in this world that could truly break us. I’m thankful for that.


It’s Okay To Be Emotional…Until It Isn’t

I’m going to be honest: I have no idea if Albert Einstein actually said that. I just thought it was appropriate for my blog today.

Surely you’ve heard people say, “it’s okay to cry” just as often as you’ve heard people – probably the same people – chastise their children for doing just that. So, when is it okay to display negative emotions? Because from where I’m standing, it seems as if it’s only okay to show them when you’re in a therapy session or at a funeral. Otherwise, suck it up, Buttercup! There’s nothing to be upset about.
 Actually…there’s nothing for you to be upset about. That person you’re talking to may feel entirely different, or maybe they’re experiencing some internal battle you know nothing about, which they can’t tell you about for fear of being judged, belittled, or embarrassed. It’s kind of an asshole move to tell someone when it’s okay for them to express how they feel or dictate how they should do so.

Someone asked me today why my youngest child is so emotional, and have I “gotten to the root cause of it?” The question threw me off a little. I actually said, “I’m not sure what you mean…” even though I did know exactly what she meant. It took me by surprise and I guess my brain just needed (more than) a moment to process, which I didn’t get and so I ended up giving a blundering, awkward response.

The more I think about it, the more I wish I had answered differently. I keep replaying my response (& the subsequent tears) over and over again in my head and the more I do, the more frustrated with myself I become. Why did I react that way and why did I give such a stupid reply?


It was an innocent question asked from a place of concern, but I felt oddly (& irrationally) attacked by it. I’ve never thought of The Cuteness as being “emotional” so much as she’s just intuitive and so very receptive to the world around her. She has such a pure, sweet, sensitive soul that I think even the smallest delights and cruelties in life affect her in the most profound – and sometimes puzzling – ways. I was told last year she had a high level of anxiety. Given our circumstances last year, I’m not surprised by that in the slightest, but then I thought about it a little more…


It wasn’t long before it struck me that my child is only 8 years old (and only 7 years old when I was told she rated very high for anxiety). Let that sink in a minute. She is only eight.
The Cuteness has the most vibrant, innocent, tender soul of anybody I’ve ever met. She expresses joy over the smallest things and it takes very little to make her happy. All she really needs is a lot of hugs, a puppy and some good music, and she’s the happiest girl you’ll ever meet. I call her my sunshine, because she really, really is. She radiates it like magic. 🙂 As generally happy as she is though, she’s the one that cries when she sees someone else crying, or a scene in a movie with someone hunting a deer, and especially when she sees a dead animal on the side of the road. She sheds quiet, melancholy tears every single time she hears the song “Burning House” on the radio…even as she’s singing along to it.


She has a mom who is overly-empathic & (I like to think) pretty intuitive myself, an authoritarian dad who is stern & rough (at least on the outside), and she lives in a world that forces children to grow up too quickly, to ‘know better’ too soon. She is a student in an educational system that is broken; too much is demanded of our kids (not to mention our teachers), much of which isn’t even developmentally appropriate. She tries so hard and she still struggles. On top of all that she’s supposed to somehow figure out how to appropriately navigate social situations, make friends, deal with bullies, which is another burden entirely when you consider that she’s being taught to defend herself at home & told not to at school. It would be overwhelming for anyone, but an 8 year old who already has a proclivity for being sensitive?


How could she NOT be emotional? How is an 8 year old equipped to handle all the millions of unique thoughts & incomprehensible feelings they have on a minute-to-minute basis? When you think of it this way, it sounds silly to even ask why one is ‘so emotional.’


I know there are tons of kids who come in and out of school, church, and everywhere else who have some much bigger issues they’re facing which cause a lot of baffling emotional and behavioral responses; what if they’re being neglected or abused? I get the need to ask questions, to find the root cause & I understand this is the sad reality of the world.


However, sometimes a kid – an adult, even – is just emotional because they’re designed that way & the world is often a brutal, unforgiving place…I don’t think it’s terribly strange to see a child react to that in a mournful sort of way. It’s tough to know “the right way” to respond in any given situation. Especially when you’re a ridiculously perceptive eight year old and you have a limited number of tools in your belt to deal with those perceptions. People have so many absurd expectations! Why does there have to be a cut & dry reason/answer for everything? Sometimes, it just is what it is.


Sorry, today was a ranty day I guess. If you read this, many thanks to you. 🙂 If you would like to chip in your two cents, I would be happy to hear it in the comments below. ❤

Wordy 30

It’s almost that time: my 30th birthday is just two days away.

I could say a lot about turning 30:

I could whine and complain and refuse to ever be older than 29, continuing to celebrate each subsequent birthday as “The [1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.] Anniversary of My 29th Birthday” but cute as it is, that’s not really my style. I’m SO EXCITED about turning 30! Maybe that makes me a weirdo, but I just think that the future is exciting. The fact that I’ve made it 30 years in this beautiful, amazing, horrible, awful, extraordinary life is exciting! I have fought for the privilege to be another year older & I feel blessed that God has allowed me this much time on Earth. I pray he gives me many, many more years, but I’ll be thankful for each one I get no matter how many (or few) they may be.

I also think that resentment of growing older is a bit incongruous. Nobody wants to die, but nobody wants to get older either; how’s that working out for you? I feel like grey hairs, crows feet, laugh lines, scars, and all most of the other things that come with growing older are a beautiful privilege, and they tell a unique, physical story about how we’ve lived. I do hope that when I’m 50 my story will say I’m 30 *wink wink* but still…even if it doesn’t I’ll be thankful for whatever story my body tells.

I could go on about how my health and fitness have been more important to me in the last 3 years than they have ever been, but that’s not really what I wanted to share today either. I’m sure that’s the story you’re dying to hear, but suck it up, buttercup. 😉 I want to share with you 30 things I’ve learned in my 30 short years.

30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years (In No Particular Order):

  1. Potty-training is the devil.
  2. You’re never “too old.” Wear what you want, style your hair how you want (purple and blue hair anyone??), and get excited over unicorns, rainbows, and glitter. Two words: Lisa. Frank. I am not ashamed.MTI0ODc2MDQ2MDg3NjA0MjM0
  3. Life is too short to waste time worrying about what other people think of you. To the extent of getting and keeping a good job and doing the things you need to do to take care of your responsibilities – yes, present yourself in a manner that people in positions of authority find pleasing (good hygiene, prioritizing, always being respectful, that sort of thing), but don’t change who you are at your core to please someone else. You want people in your life who love you for who you really are, not who they think you ought to be. Nerd out. Go on & share your love of T-Swift & YA novels with the world. You didn’t actually hate it when your three year old used to watch The Backyardigans? Go ahead and sing the theme song out loud. 99faefe255167765afeed34e19d0488f
  4. Comparison is the thief of joy. Yes, it’s a famous quote and you may have seen it so many times it makes you throw up in your mouth a little, but it’s beautiful and very, very true.
  5. You will never see me wearing matching
  6. It’s okay to go at your own pace. Sure, I got married at 18, had a baby, and didn’t get my license until I was 21 or start college until I was 22. I did things, as they say, “backwards.” Who died and made you The Keeper of Chronological Life Events? I turned out okay. If you did it the other way around, or if you’re unmarried at 30, don’t have kids, have a bunch of kids, don’t want kids, or still haven’t figured out what you want to be when you grow up – it’s okay! It’s not a competition.
  7. There is no one-size-fits-all “right time” to do anything. The right time is whenever you decide to do it.
  8. Getting carded is awesome.
  9. My high school playlist is on a loop…on the oldies station.
  10. It’s cool when people think you’re wise when really you’re just making it up as you go along just like everybody else.
  11. Jagermeister is disgusting.
  12. Jameson is even worse.
  13. Mixing them is not advised. 012624b3251ab1c8e7f934bc0c0b2484
  14. Don’t waste time trying to be trendy. Instead, strive to be a trendsetter. Mean-Girls-Meme-Fetch-05
  15. For the majority, no serious consequences will occur when your kid eats something that has touched the floor. It’s okay…relax.
  16. The best stories occur while your kids are on the toilet. I’m pretty sure my Facebook feed has been flooded with funny stories of things my children have done or said while on the toilet, in the bathroom, or having some relation to poop. 4013d2c3d7f8068ce2f291357b76447a
  17. There are more fun and creative ways to curse that your children can actually repeat and they have the added benefit of entertaining other people. POOP IN A BASKET! I don’t give a flying flock of frolicking catfish! “Fudgin’ touch me again and I’ll fudgin’ kill ya!” – Dean Winchester. However, sometimes it’s just nice to say the real thing. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’ve just been married to my F-bomb dropping husband too long, but either way, sometimes it just feels good not to censor yourself.
  18. When you become a mom, you talk about poop a lot.
  19. “What is that smell?” is not an altogether uncommon thought.
  20. “Put that in your juice box and suck it” is probably the best line I’ve ever taught my children.  I am not ashamed. (Yes, there is a story behind this.)
  21. I will likely never master the art of keeping things “short and sweet.” I’m sorry. Actually, no…no I’m not. Suck it up.
  22. What is heard cannot be unheard. What is seen, cannot be unseen. 6f220603_what-has-been-seen
  23. Money isn’t everything. We need it to survive, & it’s nice to have a little extra, but there’s always more to be made. You can’t make more time & do-overs don’t exist. Prioritize what’s important to you and spend your time & money on those things as much as possible.
  24. Everybody compromises. Sometimes your ideologies take a backseat to your immediate needs. It’s okay to barely get by as long as you do get by. It’s okay to just be ‘okay.’
  25. Sometimes you’re the pigeon and sometimes you’re the statue. It’s just how life works.
  26. It’s okay if you don’t fart rainbows and sunshine 100% of the time. You don’t always have to be positive. Good days and bad days are part of being human. Embrace them for what they are and just keep moving forward.
  27. You should never stop having weird conversations.
  28. Laundry is never-ending so there’s really no rush to fold it. As long as it gets washed and dried, I don’t really care where it goes after that.
  29. I will never be adult enough to know how to properly fold a fitted sheet. A ball in the closet is good enough. 1021cef94d717a7ade3dcc5ab1c7b713
  30. “You can never have too much butter” is still the best life lesson I’ve received. Thanks Grandma.

Bonus lesson: Coke > Pepsi. Thanks Granddaddy.


Happy Birthday to me! I have no idea what I’ll be doing, but I really hope it includes Jensen Ackles James Dean (my husband, not the dead actor. Ew.)

My Eight Year Old Has Yoda-Wisdom

Happy Almost Christmas everybody! I hope you’re all ready for the holidays, snuggled up with warm socks by warm fireplaces eating Christmas cookies or whatever it is you do for the holidays. For those of you who are missing loved ones or just stressing in general, my heart goes out to you. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but a pair of warm socks really improved my outlook on life this morning…I urge you to try it if you’re feeling less-than-cheerful. 🙂

Anyway, this post was inspired by Progressive (and maybe a tiny bit by all the Star Wars fans). For real. My girls and I were watching TV together this morning and that silly, misogynist Progressive commercial came on. If you don’t know which one, I’ve linked it below:

I was so proud of my girls because both of them just rolled their eyes at it & laughed. “Where’s her husband? She doesn’t have to have a husband. Crazy man.” My girls are often such silly little creatures, but they are also super, extra special! It made me think of a conversation with a friend the other day in which it was suggested that girls learn to become co-dependent from the womb. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and decided it’s ultimately true.

In utero, we’re all dependent on our mother’s care to keep us alive. As babies, we depend on our parents for our every need. For boys, the older they get the more independent they’re taught to be. When they fall and scrape their knees they’re told to get up and walk it off. “Stop crying like a little girl.” (Which is another post entirely.)

It’s a little different for girls. We’re taught that we can be whatever we want to be, but somewhere along the way “whatever you want” turns into “someday you’ll meet a boy and you’ll want to get married and have a family…” and “someday when you’re married…” yada, yada, yada. We go from depending on our parents to depending on a man “to save us” from…I don’t know what…loneliness? Having to pay our own bills? I mean, really, I’m not sure why females automatically get handed the role of damsel in distress and boys must automatically assume the role of the provider. (Like that’s all either of us can be??) It’s pretty typical though. Little girls then spend their whole lives dreaming about their fairytale wedding day and then pitying themselves when it doesn’t happen in the timeframe they’ve allotted for themselves. Single at 30, anyone?

Because that’s what this whole life is about, right? Getting married. Having a family. We’re conditioned from a very young age to believe that our ultimate goals in life should consist of fairytale romances and a prince to whisk us off to his castle in the sky to make all the babies.

Some of These are great things and I’m not knocking them in any way. I myself enjoy my family and my marriage more than anything, and to be perfectly honest, I never wanted that when I was growing up. Getting married and having a family just wasn’t a goal for me. I thought it meant sacrificing everything else I wanted: college, a career, happiness in general. Now, I couldn’t picture anything better.

Having said that, I want to teach my girls that they can be anything they want to be and that includes single. Even at thirty. Being single doesn’t make you sad. It doesn’t make you pathetic and lonely. It doesn’t mean your life is wildly off track or that you’re destined to be a cat lady. By all means, if you want to be a cat lady, be a cat lady! I’m just saying that no matter what age and stage you may be at in your life, it can still be whatever you want it to be. You have the power to mold your life into whatever you want it to look like. Boys don’t have to be falling over themselves for your attention in order for you to feel validated and worthy. This goes for boys, too. Life is about much more than what the opposite sex thinks of you. Period.

e7accf4a634d77baaa166c418e376a24I want to encourage my kids to really stop and take inventory of their lives and their goals, to determine if what they have decided they want is really what they chose for themselves, or just an idea that someone else has established for them. If they don’t want to be married and have a ton of babies, awesome! If they really do want marriage, awesome! If they want to run away with the circus…well, I guess that has the potential to be awesome, too. As much as I want them all to be independent and free-thinking, I also want them to know that marriage doesn’t have to mean co-dependence either. It doesn’t mean that this other person is going to come in and create all your happiness for you, but it can be a joyful experience all the same. I asked The Cuteness (my 8 year old) where her happiness comes from and she said, “my heart.” I thought that was a pretty great answer.

We create our own happiness.

You might as well stop waiting for Prince Charming, let go of any expectations that other people have set for you and your life, and just start LIVING! Start enjoying your life for what it is, wherever you’re at in this moment. It’ll be hard at first if you’ve always operated under the impression that you can’t be alone, but the more you do it the more liberating and enjoyable it will be. Learn to be okay with yourself/your life and you’ll never need to worry about needing anyone else; they’ll just be a bonus. 🙂

Merry Christmas my lovelies!

Pink Potatoes & Hair Storage

Oh wait…did I get that wrong? Pink Hair & Potato Storage: that’s better.

I shared this post on my SpiffySnaps blog last year, but I recently rediscovered it and thought it appropriate to share here as well.

If you’ve ever struggled with discovering (or just being) who you are as opposed to who you’re expected to be, maybe this can be helpful to you. And if not, there’s a picture of me with some badass pink hair so (I think) that’s worth taking a millisecond look at. 😉

10278367_mOh, if you read the post & wondered what the potato storage email said (I had to look it up, too, because I completely forgot) here’s some info on that:

Happy Monday!

Dawn Smells Better On Husbands

  I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s sexy when her husband washes dishes. Or am I? My husband has sworn on countless occasions that he “does not do dishes” and so I am especially grateful when he does, but more than that I just think it’s hot!! 🔥

Don’t let me be alone in this! Comment and tell me what you think. Are you indifferent to your husband washing dishes or do you, like me, think it’s super hot? 

Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It Part 3

In my blog post the other day I talked about changing your reaction to your kids, allowing them room to make mistakes, and just generally trying to sort out the reasoning behind things instead of just making harsh judgements based off your own assumptions. It brought to my attention to very reason why the suggestions people have given me in the past about how to deal with my ODD child will never work.

It’s because nearly every suggestion I’ve ever been given is based on the thinking that my child needs to change.

To a degree, that’s true. She has some behavioral issues that certainly need to be sorted out & some changes are going to need to be made on her part for that happen. However, there’s nothing I can do to force her to change. The decision has to be hers.

So what do you do in the meantime? You change yourself.

I know what some of you are thinking:

“So, you’re telling me that my child is the one with the problem, but I have to change?”

Yes. That is exactly what I’m telling you.

That’s where I messed up so frequently before & still do more often than I’d like. I dealt with her in ways that my other two children responded to rather than tailoring my response to what she needed or would be able to understand. I’ve had to make changes in the way I discipline her, talk to her, respond to her, and even in the ways that I love her.

Up until the past couple years or so I think my husband and I have used every method that we could think of to force her behavior and her attitude to change without changing anything about ourselves. My daughter and I didn’t understand each other or “speak each other’s language.” A person who is strong-willed is going to resist any change or action that they themselves didn’t come up with. It’s what they do…they resist, they challenge, they analyze, they go against the grain. That’s a really great thing if used correctly & I realize now that I don’t need to punish her for being such a strong, amazing, fearless person. She needs understanding and guidance more than she needs punishments & power-plays. Yes, there will be some negative consequences for both of us, but I’m finding the more I change my reaction to her, the more her behavior changes along with it. We don’t quite “get” each other yet, but we respect each other and that’s where understanding starts. 🙂

How do you respond when your kid is being particularly difficult? Do you blow up, stay calm, ground them, take things away, give them chores, give them some sort of multiple choice?? Let me know in the comments! 🙂


Yes Silly, Of Course The Tooth Fairy Has Email!

When you’re a crappy Tooth Fairy you have to get creative. I sent my daughter an email this morning. 
Dear {Princess Sassypants},
I am emailing you because I wanted you to get this as soon as possible and also because your parents have a reputation for firing Tooth-fairies and I don’t want to be next! 

I’m so sorry I was unable to collect your tooth on time. Please allow me to explain: Yesterday was a super busy day for the Tooth Fairy. There were LOTS of children who lost teeth and so many of them even go to your school! 
I collected all the teeth I could, but then my satchel got full and I couldn’t carry it anymore. I had to call the ToothCab (the Tooth Fairy Taxi Cab Service) to come pick me up because I couldn’t fly with all those teeth. 
It took the Taxi two hours to come pick me up (he says he ran into some elf or something on the way, but I’m not sure I believe him. He was probably just rolling around in pixie dust again) and when he finally got there it was nearly time for me to stop collecting anyway. I still had 13 teeth to collect! 
Anyway, I noticed that you got up earlier than usual this morning so I wasn’t able to come back and get your tooth yet. I’m sorry dear. 
I’ll come get yours (& all the other teeth I couldn’t fit in my satchel) tonight and there will be an extra special prize from me included under your pillow.
Can you take care of the tooth until then? 

Thank you for being so kind to me {Princess Sassypants}. I’m so proud to have the honor of collecting your teeth! Please ask your parents to give me another shot. They just want their kids to have the best Tooth Fairy, and I want to be that Fairy!


The Toothiest Tooth Fairy That Ever Fairied Teeth 

Care to share your Tooth Fairy fails & successes?

Thanksgiving & Zuppa Toscana Recipe

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday crammed with loud, boisterous family, more food than you could fit on the table, dressing that was burned on the outside, but still super moist and delicious on the inside, kids laughing & yelling, and dogs (or cats) that ran around your feet lapping up your droppings. Or you know, whatever it is that makes your holidays special. There’s something about the imperfectness of it all that makes it truly memorable for me so I tend to appreciate all the little things that go “wrong.”

In the last three or four years my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our house, but this year we decided not to (for reasons). We ended up doing it at my mom’s house which is considerably smaller cozier than ours, which is my favorite thing about it. We had to put some kids on the floor at the coffee table to eat, but we managed.

Image-1My husband made a honey-glazed spiral ham (yum – I wish I had a picture of it), and I made an apple pie (which was devoured in about 5 minutes), a pumpkin pie (which I’m pretty sure my brother ate almost entirely by himself), 2 gallons of sweet tea, and Zuppa Toscana (which I’m going to share my recipe for shortly.) My apple pie was not pretty. It cracked all across the top and when it was cut apples slid out everywhere, but it sure was delicious. I ended up improvising with my soup (don’t worry, I’ll get to that), but delightfully enough, it turned out to be the best soup I’ve ever made.

My sister made a turkey for the first time ever! She was worried about it, but there was no reason to be. She killed it! (The recipe…not the turkey.) It was amazing. I don’t really eat turkey because it’s so dry, but hers was so tender and juicy. My mouth is kinda watering just thinking about it. I’m pretty sure Princess Sassypants went into a turkey coma last night she ate so much. Anyway, it was so juicy that on the way to my mom’s house, the juice leaked out all over the front of my sister’s pants causing her husband to have to go get her some new pants to wear and almost every male in the house to make juvenile jokes about my sister’s bladder control. See what I mean about the imperfections being the things that make it memorable? We’ll probably be talking about that one for a while.

My mom made a bunch of stuff, but there were two things in particular that stick out. Her homemade pineapple pudding that the kids destroyed by eating almost all the merengue off the top (I’m sorry Mom…I’m laughing…the merengue is the best part) and my Granddaddy’s dressing, which has very specific instructions for how it is to be prepared. Apparently you can only make it during a full moon when the 3rd planet is in its 6th house, and exactly 6 minutes and 32.5 seconds after you put it in the oven you must spin around counter-clockwise three times on one foot without falling over while touching your nose precisely .2 degrees to the left of center with your right ring finger while clucking like a chicken. This is the second time my mom has tried to make it. The first time she didn’t take the rules seriously and it didn’t come out right. This time she followed all the rules as far as I’m aware. She may have made the cornbread and boiled the chicken the day before, but is that really considered cheating? Something somewhere must have gone wrong because the top of the dressing was burned.

*sad face*

We were pleasantly surprised though because the inside was still nice and moist. I really enjoyed it! Although, my brother had plenty of jokes about how we should have waited on him to make it since he’s the only one Granddaddy ever gave his actual recipe to. I guess they’re the only ones that get to be a part of The Secret Recipe Club.

Moving on…

I was asked to share my Zuppa Toscana recipe so here we go! For those that don’t know what it is, it’s an Italian soup that I fell in love with at Olive Garden made primarily of potatoes and sausage with some greens thrown in there to make it appear healthier. :p

I initially found the recipe by searching Google for an Olive Garden copy cat version. I found a pretty good one, but it needed some tweaking for our family so I kept searching. I came across one more that I liked well enough to try to make it. It was good, too, but I still wanted to tweak it so after knowing the basic ingredients and directions I just took the recipes I’d found online and adapted them to what worked for me. I discovered that you can put pretty much anything in this soup and it’s still delicious so have fun with it!

Beth’s Version of Zuppa Toscana

* I don’t really measure my ingredients, but I’m going to try to remember what I used in my Thanksgiving recipe so I can give you measurements. Feel free to tweak it to what works for you. My version of this soup does not taste exactly like Olive Garden’s so I can’t call it a copy cat recipe, but I could eat it all day everyday so (needless to say) I think it’s frickin’ delicious. Lol

Makes 12 servings • Prep time: about 30 minutes • Cook time: 45 minutes (This makes a lot because it was for Thanksgiving, so you’ll want to use a large stock pot. Otherwise, you could half the recipe & use a regular size pot.)


•1 lb Mild Italian Sausage (casings removed) (use 2 lbs if you don’t want to use the little smokies in your recipe. You can also use hot sausage if that’s more your style)

•1 package all beef little smokies, chopped into bite size pieces (I used these because I didn’t have enough Italian sausage and they were delicious. You could just use 2 pounds of the Italian sausage or 2 pounds of these…totally up to you.)

•3 cups Kale (stalks removed)

•Baby Spinach (because I had some that needed to be used) (I put in approximately 2 cups, but it cooks down so much I could have put in more and it would have been fine.)

• 1/2 large Italian Red Sweet Onion (chopped)

• Garlic (4 cloves, chopped or minced)

• Chicken Broth (8 cups)

• 5 Red Potatoes, sliced (I like to cut them like potato chips, but a little thicker and then slice them in half to make them easier to eat)

• 2 16oz cartons of heavy whipping cream

• Bacon (I cooked about 10 strips of thick cut bacon until it was crispy enough to crumble up to use as a topping) *Can substitute with bacon bits.

• Cayenne Pepper to taste

• 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil



  • Fry your bacon. You’ll be using it as a topping for your soup so you’ll want it to be crispy enough that you can put it in a bag or something and crumble it up. OR you could use bacon bits, but real bacon is always better! 🙂
  • Fry your Italian sausage in the same pan you cooked your bacon in. The flavoring from the bacon…yum. Drain off excess grease and store (covered) until needed. I also cut up my little smokies and fried those right after I finished with my Italian sausage. Store, covered until needed.
  • Chop up your onion, garlic & potatoes. Set aside.
  • Take a large stock pot and add your 1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Heat on medium heat. Once heated, add your onions and garlic and let cook for about 3 minutes until onions become translucent.
  • Add chicken broth. Let it come to a boil. You can turn the heat up here if you want to.
  • Once chicken broth boils, add in your potatoes. Let those boil until they become soft. (About 10-15 minutes)
  • Once potatoes soften add in sausage and heavy cream.
  • Let the heavy cream heat through and then add in your greens one cup at a time. (You can use Kale, baby spinach, or you could even use rainbow chard now that I’m thinking about it…) The greens will cook down relatively quickly and you may or may not want to add more.
  • Once you’ve got all your greens in, this is when I usually add in my cayenne, but you can really add it in whenever you want, or leave it out altogether depending on how spicy (or not) you like things. I just don’t like to add mine until I can taste test it. 🙂
  • Serve immediately with bacon sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

If you’ve been following my Keep Calm series I’ll be getting back to that soon. Princess Sassypants really tested my patience on Wednesday and I’ve got to tell you about that at some point. Until then, enjoy your family time and your soup. Let me know if you try it, if you like it, what you liked and what you changed. I’m anxious to know your thoughts. 🙂 I’d also love to know what makes Thanksgiving or the holidays in general memorable for you. Has anyone in your family ever stabbed someone in the hand for the last piece of chicken? I hear that happened once in my family. Maybe my mom will come guest-blog about it one day. 🙂



I Broke It On Purpose!

This photo was brought to my attention & my name is on the list. 

I have an announcement for the nincompoop that made this & the hopeful expression it may have caused to pass across my husband’s face. 

To All Whom It May Concern:

This facility has been closed for business. All personnel and valuable equipment have been safely evacuated. Utilities have been shut off, entrances boarded, “Keep Out” signs posted, and sustainable energy sources depleted so as to effectively condemn this location to all life forms, human or otherwise. No rental space available. No storage allowed. 

Any individuals caught attempting to squat in, use, repurpose, or otherwise restore this establishment shall be swiftly apprehended and sent home with a “nice try” sticker and a free puppy. 

Thank you for your consideration.

– Beth’s Baby Factory