Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recipe Review: Sausage and Cabbage

If you want to just snag the recipe, jump to the bottom.

A little bit ago, I got the "Irish Cooking Bible" as a gift. I honestly couldn't tell you if this is legit Irish food or not, but so far it's been good!

Tonight I made Smoked Sausage and Cabbage (page 72 if you have the book).

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but not what came out. It was bitter, sweet, and savory all at once. The cabbage was slightly bitter. I used sweet onions so, obviously, they were sweeter than the cabbage. For sausage, I couldn't find smoked sausage, so I used an Irish sausage from Johnsonville.

The directions are really simple. It would have been really hard to mess this up.

Step one was to cut the sausage and brown them in a pan. So I did, like so:

Mind you, this was before they were browned.

I honestly have never cut a sausage before in my life. They're a little icky. The weird wrapper thing that holds the squished stuff together...ew. Super tasty, but ew.

I also have never cut cabbage. It said to cut it coarsely, so I left it big. I also got a little carried away:

That is definitely more than 6 cups. My bad. The amount of cabbage wasn't a huge problem. It was the size of my skillet that was a problem:

 I need a bigger skillet.

So these are the only steps. Cut and brown sausage. Cut and brown the cabbage and onions. No big deal.

After everything is thrown together, the book says it should look like this:

Mine turned out a little less photogenic: 

The towel looks amazing, the food looks less colorful. I realize they don't typically photograph actual food cooked the way it says it is, but I like to pretend it's attainable by following the recipe. 

Finally, we ate it. It wasn't bad. It's not something I could eat every day. I would get a little...bored...with it. Maybe if I had other things with it, like potatoes or something. Next time. 

Richi loved it. He ate a lot of it. His review: 

"The only thing I would change is the sausage. I would add more sausage!" 

There you have it! It's a very simple meal. Took less than ten minutes to make (not including my fight with the cabbage). Super nice for a weeknight like tonight. I'll probably make it again. Not right away, but maybe later in the fall.

K, now for the recipe:

1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 2-in. pieces (more sausage is probably better)
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (more cabbage requires more space, just fyi)
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Cook the sausage in a large skillet (they mean large) until browned. Remove sausage to a plate.

2. Heat the oil in the same skillet (get all that sausagey goodness leftover). Cook the remaining ingredients in the skillet until the onion is brown.

3. Add the sausage back. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before eating.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

An Unofficial Guide to Family History: Build a Foundation for the Future

It's been a long while since I posted about family history. I'm sorry. I said before that I will be posting as I am working, and right now I have been hitting dead ends.

One thing, though, that is often overlooked in family history is the future. It makes sense because it isn't called family future. Something that is very important, though, is record keeping.

You can browse family history documents, like censuses and marriage licenses. That's not what I mean though. I mean journals, photos, etc.

One of the most important things I have received while working on family history is a book of poems by a great-grandma.

I've never read a poem that touched me nearly as much as this.

I've also gotten the opportunity to help my grandma mount her travel photos, which comes with stories of the places she has visited. After an afternoon of mounting, I cannot stop smiling.

Photos, personal writings, they are what bring your ancestors to life again in a way official documents can't.

What does that have to do with the future? Well sometime, you will become the past. You are laying a foundation for the future. Someday, your descendants will want to know who you were, not just where you lived. It's important you start building that foundation.

But writing in a journal can be really hard to maintain. I understand. There are many ways you can keep a journal, though. You don't need to write down the events of each day in order to keep a good journal. In fact, sometimes less is more.

It's easy for me to sit here and tell you to write in your journal. After all, I write in mine. From ages 8-16, I wrote in my journal daily. While that is great, it isn't necessary (especially if you ever have to move, journals weigh a ton). You only need to write what matters most to you. Did you see something amazing? Did you hear a song that made you smile? Did you talk to someone who touched you?

Sometimes we aren't good with words. That's alright. I have a journal that I fill with words, but then I also have what I call my adventure journal. Instead of loading it with words, I load it with items from "adventures" I have. Then I jot a quick sentence about what I loved, or hated, about the experience. There are a lot of movie tickets and playbills in there. My descendants will know how much we enjoyed entertainment.

Here, this is what my adventure journal looks like:

As you can see, it's just a blue book (bonus, it's the "Diary of River Song" if you watch Dr. Who). The pages inside are just blank, not lined, nothing fancy.

Then I use acid free mounting tape to attach the items. When it comes to tickets, I tape them on one side so they can "open" up like a small door. Underneath I write what I enjoyed.

These definitely aren't "pinterest" worthy photos. My journal is far from those beautiful creations people post online. But that's alright. A journal is personal. If you want a fancy journal, with beautiful handwriting, then do it! If you don't care, then don't sweat it. The most important aspect of journaling is the information. It's meant to be a preservation of your memories, not a showpiece for the world.

Right now, you are living in what will be considered the past. You are making memories that will mean the world to someone who isn't even born yet. If I had a journal of the lives of my great-great-grandmas, I would be in heaven. I am here because of "average" people living their lives. I am here because one day someone probably took a road trip that changed their life, or maybe they met a funny stranger. Who knows! One day, your descendants will thank you for taking the time to jot down "I really hated that Justin Bieber song". Give them a chance to get to know you. Let your memories survive the eternities. Write in a journal.

P.S. I started writing this post in September of 2016, and finished in August 2017. Just in case the first and second halves seem disconnected.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Longer Time, No See

Last time I posted, I had every intention of writing often, I thought maybe I'd make some profound statements about marriage. Maybe I'd give expert advice for other first time moms. Instead I neglected my blog and lived my life.

I could attempt to fill you in on every little detail of the past year, but let's be serious. I don't even remember what happened yesterday. Life zooms by so quickly that everything blurs together like riding a train in the rain (near a plane with your friend Jermaine). Unlike a train in the rain, though, life doesn't stop to let you off. Instead you have to enjoy the ride, jot down the important details, and relax.

That's what we've done this year. We've grabbed the memories we can with pictures and journal entries. We've relaxed together after long days and weeks. We've enjoyed every tiring second of every exhausting day

The trite phrase "they grow up so quickly" is often said sadly, as if to say watching the baby grow isn't amazing. M is growing quickly. Amazingly quick. But that's the fun! Every day he learns something knew. He astounds us with his talents. His smile and laugh melt our hearts (he thinks he's hilarious). Every day we get to cuddle him, help him, guide him, and love him. It's incredible to watch him experience life.

That sounds like we know we won't have him long. As if he was born with an illness that could take him at any minute. That's not the case. There are many, many families out there riding that train. That is not our train. We got lucky. M was born 5 weeks early, but never saw the NICU. He was placed in my arms when they pulled him out (well, as much as he could have been with me so medicated), and we got to come home the same day I did. I wouldn't trade that for the world, but I also don't plan on taking these moments for granted. I don't know what the world holds for M or our family, but for now we are enjoying every small moment.

Speaking of moments, here's the one I am enjoying right now:

Night time is one of my favorite times. Mostly because I am a huge fan of sleep, but also because he talks in his sleep. He coos and giggles. I don't know what angels dream about, but I bet it's marvelous.

I am not promising I'll be back, but you might just see a little more of me around. (And if you don't re-read this post, because it's likely nothing will have changed.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Long Time No See

Have I used that title before? Probably. But it's true. I haven't posted in a while.

I won't bore you with all the mundane details of what has happened since I last posted. (When was that? I don't even remember.)

The biggest thing that happened was my wedding! Woot Woot!

The process was an ordeal. No one told me that before going into it...and I kept it simple. I got my dress for $30 at Macy's (don't knock it. I bargained for a discount, and it was on sale anyway). We got married in a temple, and had the reception and luncheon at a church. So (other than food), both free. Including food, clothes, and decor, we didn't spend over $1000. (This was largely due to all the donations and help we received from our families.)

But even with all that simplicity, it was an ordeal. Moving was an ordeal (have I mentioned that I have never moved in my life until now?). Getting settled is an ordeal (it's a work in progress). Learning my new role in life is an ordeal. It's all very new.

The hardest part for me was changing my name and having a small identity crisis. I don't know if everyone feels that, but I certainly did. I was no longer at the front of the alphabet. Instead I'm nestled in the middle. Waking up each morning in a room that wasn't familiar was hard. Trying to find outfits in my new clothes arrangement was hard. Looking back, this all sounds so silly, but it was difficult. No one told me about that part of being married. If they had, maybe I'd have better prepared for it.

It's over now (the crisis, not the marriage), and it feels like it never happened. It's almost as if I've always been a wife. It feels like Rich and I have been married since the dawn of time. It feels like my new home has always been my home (except, I still can't find things in the kitchen). It feels like this has been my life for longer than two months. I feel like if I ever switched back (my name, bed, room) I would be more lost. This all just feels right.

Anyway, enough of the words. In case you don't follow my Instagram, or you don't look at my photos on FB, here are a couple of pictures for ya:

Our doormat. Welcome Home! 

Turning these rooms into a home. The bottom right was our cake topper. 

Photo by Scott Twitchell

Photo by Scott Twitchell. Cake by Stacey Cazier.

This family right here is a large reason for my wedding going so smoothly. Not only did they give me great examples growing up, they also helped pull together a wonderful wedding. I am so lucky to have them in my life. 

I'm going to try to post more. Maybe. No promises.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

An Unofficial Guide to Family History: Part 2 -- Gathering Information

This really should have been part one. Like I said, I am just explaining this as I do it.

Gathering information should be the first step. It's what you need in order to do anything.

Without information, you won't be able to really accomplish anything.

For some of you, gathering will be easy. For others, not so much. It's okay. These aren't timed steps. Just steps.

Here are some ways to gather information:


Obviously. If you are researching your family, talk to them. If you have any older living relatives, they will be the biggest fountain of knowledge. Take notes. What they say will escape your brain faster than seventh grade algebra. I thought for sure I would remember everyone, but that was a little much to expect of myself. 

For example, I have a confusing home life. We live with my grandma. We being my nephew, brothers, niece, aunt, mom. I live here, so it's easy. If you don't, it makes no sense. I got to meet a couple of cousins this past fall. Grandma drew out a family tree for them. They still were confused. And we are alive. Imagine the difficulty of remembering names and dates for people who have passed. Not easy. 

Take notes. Ask them to take notes for you. Record your conversations. Even the dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind. Write that down so you don't forget. 


This one might not work for everyone. Some of you might have books. Some of you might not. I am lucky enough to have books. Want to see? 

These are just a few of the books I have. I have read one and a half of them. The pieces I have read have been amazing. My Great Grandma had a great sense of humor. 

You might have some of these books lying around. 

You might even have a family bible. Aside from having spiritual benefits, these bibles often held family information (birth and death dates, marriages, etc.). I feel like almost every family has one of these. 

Family Search and Ancestry.

These have a lot of records digitized. This option is a little tough if you have nothing to go on. They do have obituaries and census records that often hold some really awesome information. To utilize these, you need an ancestor's name, any dates associated with them, and any locations. 

Using this can often require a lot of patience. I don't have a ton of patience, so I use this one sparingly these days. If you have the time and patience, you can use these whenever you want! Parents have to sleep sometime, but the internet never does. If you have insomnia, feel free to research your ancestors. You will be productive, and often times, reading the search results gets tiring. Maybe it'll help you sleep. 

Family Friends.

This one is like family, except different. These are people who knew your parents or grandparents. They are the ones who pinch your cheeks at weddings and say "I remember when you were knee-high to a grasshopper! My, how you've grown!" Often times, you might not actually know these people. It's okay. They tend to be nice. 

They also might have a lot of fun stories you can glean information from. 

For example, my sixth grade teacher used to tell us hilarious stories about his childhood best friend. Turns out that teacher's best friend was my cousin! I didn't realize this until the end of the year. I haven't met this cousin, but I now have stories about his childhood that make me laugh all the time. 

Sometimes, the stories will be about things they did that also have clues about needed information. "I remember one summer, when we were celebrating his birthday," one of them might say about a grandparent. Aha! Your grandpa was born in the summer. Good to know. 

Have you ever watched Sherlock Holmes? You might want to. You'll need to study his deducing skills. 

These are the most common ways to find information. 

Do you have any other ways to find information? I need to know! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

An Unofficial Guide to Family History: Part 1 -- Going Digital

Did you read that really long introduction I posted? If not, you can read it here.

I once took a writing class in which we had to learn to write directions for various activities. I can write you a fantastic "How to Make a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich For Dummies." I am not sure if I can write a "How to do your Family History for the confused." As these posts go on, they will get better, I promise. Please feel free to email me (morganmalvari@gmail.com) or leave a comment. Or message me on facebook. I will answer all your questions to the best of my ability (even if you just need a waffle recipe, hit me up).

Like the title says, this is an unofficial guide, meaning I officially have no idea what my next step will be until I get there, so I can't officially say how to do any of this. This is just my way of doing it.

Alright, enough chit chat. Let's get down to business (not to defeat the Huns, sorry Mulan fans).

Step 1: 

Asses the situation. 

Many of you will have parents, grandparents, aunts, or even occasionally uncles, who have done a lot of the family history work for your family. It might seem like there isn't a whole lot to do. That would be false. There is always a lot to do. 

For many, a lot of the work that has been done has gathered dates, places, and names. Those are incredibly important factors in this. But a lot of those items gathered have been collected on paper, or in scraps of paper tucked into folders. For some of you, that information might already be digital. You need to discover where the work ends, because that's where you will begin. 

For me, it's a combination of things. Half of my family is digitized, the other half is collected in neat folders and messy boxes in many houses. 

For this step, I'm going to help those of you who are not digital yet. Or maybe you don't know if you are digital yet. 

Going digital. 

There are a lot of online options for sorting, collecting, and organizing your family history. Ancestry.com is one. Familysearch.org is another. I use both. For the organizing part, I use Family Search. For finding records, I often use Ancestry. 

Let's start by creating a Family Search account. (I neglected to mention, Family Search is free. Ancestry is not entirely free. That's why I use Family Search.) 

You will want to create a new account on Family Search if you don't already have one. It's really quick. (Be sure to write down your password.) It's okay, I will wait while you do it. 

Did you do it? Excellent. 

Next we need to get your family tree going. If you notice, you will appear somewhat lonely on your tree, with no one connected. Let's add a parent. 

You should see something like this: 

Click on the parent you want to add. 

Here's where it might get a little confusing. I'm going to create two mini-sections for this. Jump ahead to "Living Parents" if your parents are still alive. Continue on here if you your parents are deceased. 

What to do if your parents are deceased.

You will need a few bits of information if your parents have passed. You will want their name (if they went by Ed, you will want their full name. Ed is really common. I know from experience.), their birthday (remember celebrating it? Get the real year. Your parents were likely not 24 the entire time you were alive like they led you to believe.), and their death date (this is likely scarred on your heart, and I am very truly sorry for your loss). These will help you find your parents so much faster. 

When you have all of that information, you are going to click the little plus on the parent you want to add. This will prompt you to add the information you gathered. It'll look like this: 

Enter all of the information you have. It will pull up a list of people who match the criteria. Here you will need to use your best judgement. Pick the person who matches best. I am always nervous about this. I always worry I will merge my tree with someone else's and all will be lost. Turns out, nothing will be lost. You can always correct the mistake later. (There will be a post on how to correct various mistakes I have made.) 

Once you select the correct person, or most correct, your tree will have been started! You are now digital! 

Jump ahead to learn how to continue growing your tree. 

If your parents are still living.

Go visit them. This is important. Parents are important. 

If your parents are living, you will want to add them as place holders in your tree. Living people (including yourself) will not have information on the family search sites. This is a privacy thing. While I want to invade the privacy of all family members, it's not a thing. You can't. But you can add them as a place holder so you can continue to add others in your tree. 

If you are adding living parents to your tree, click the plus sign on the parent you want to add. You will make sure to check the radio button that says "living." You will then have a chance to add as much information as you have. (Again, just ask your parents for their real birth date.) 

Unlike a deceased parent, you will not have the option of selecting record information already on the site. Your parent's name will appear in the proper place. 

Adding to the tree.

Once you have your parents added, the next level will become available. The pattern of adding grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents will always be the same. 

On occasion, some ancestors will already be linked. This means, when you add a deceased relative, many more deceased relatives will appear (their parents and grandparents). This is always the most exciting part of digitizing your tree. 

Keep following the pattern for as long as you can. I have no idea how far back someone can really go. I've heard rumors that someone has gotten all the way back to the beginning of time. That is ridiculous. I haven't gotten that far. 

Let me know how far you have gotten. Post a screenshot! I want to see it! 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Unofficial Guide to Family History: An Intro

Do you have a sec? I want to tell you a story. 

I grew up feeling like an island. Not that I felt like I had palm trees and tourists running around on me, but that I was isolated. Not just me, but my immediate family. Many moons ago, choices had been made by many individuals, and it left me without knowing my extended families on either side. All of my friends had family reunions yearly, and I barely knew the names of a few uncles and aunts. 

But then something happened. I grew up. I wasn't a kid anymore, and I no longer relied on grown-ups to give me family. It's taken a few years, but I realize now that I am not an island, nor have I ever been (thankfully...tourists are awful). I was just facing the wrong direction. Turns out, I'm just a peninsula. There is a vast ocean of a future ahead for descendants, but all of my family is behind me, connecting me to the larger landmass that is our family tree. 

Having a family, both alive and passed, has been the most amazing asset in my life. As an island, everything seems odd, new, and inexplicable. (Why am I so interested in writing when no one else in my house is? Where do I get this ridiculous sense of humor? How did I get my killer good looks? etc.) As a peninsula, you realize that everything you are is a unique extension of the landmass behind you. (My great-great-great grandma wrote poems and stories. My cousins, share my same silly sense of humor. I have a lot of really attractive ancestors who passed along their sexy genes.)

The more I have gotten to know each of these family members, the more I have understood myself and the world around me. Alone, I have 24 years of experience. Let's be honest, that's nothing. With my family behind me, I have more experience to draw off of than you can shake a stick at (do people shake sticks at things anymore?). 

The past holds a lot of amazing secrets, stories, and answers to questions humans have been asking since the dawn of time. Letting those remain in the grave with those who have passed on is a great disservice to yourself, your future, and the future of mankind in general. Our ancestors have already lived. They have experienced heartbreak, failure, success, and they have found answers to questions we haven't even thought to ask yet. Exploring family history is giving yourself a leg up when it comes to wisdom and life. 

A lot of Millennials think "no one understands me." We have all been there. This is a very unique generation in that we have a lot of new technologies, science is farther along than anyone dreamed (except Einstein maybe), and we seem to be in the transitional stage of figuring out what to do now with all the wars, diseases, and environmental issues. What we don't realize is how completely wrong we are. Yes, we are in an astounding era of technology and science, but we are still people. We as humans have no changed as much as technology has. 

Our ancestors didn't have Snapchat or Twitter so what could we possibly learn from them? 

What are Snaps and Tweets? Ways of expressing ourselves. What are we expressing? Our feelings? Our thoughts? Our fears? All humans have always had those issues. How do we express how we feel, what we think, and the problems we face? 

You are the genetic result of people long ago, so chances are, you have some of the same qualities as them. Science constantly argues nature vs. nurture, and I honestly have no answer to which trait comes from which aspect of life, but I do know that genetics are strong. What you have felt has likely been felt by many generations before you. No, they didn't Snap or Tweet, but they did face problems, and many of your ancestors likely found ways to solve those problems. Exploring their answers will give you answers to your own questions. (How you express those answers is entirely up to you.)

I'm in the middle of figuring out my family history. Many people have had parents and grandparents who have done family history. So there doesn't seem like a whole lot to do. That's the falsest falsey false thing you could think. Remember how we live in a world of technology? Our parents and grandparents didn't have that. We are one lucky generation. We can Google whatever we want and find answers. There are searching tools to help you find answers, pictures, and even some really cool facts about ancestors. 

If you want, you are more than welcome to join me, work with me (on your won family things of course) and together we can maybe figure out how to unlock the answers our ancestors have kept in their hearts. 

This beautiful lady is my Great Grandma. She is one of the women who will be helping me along this journey. Believe it or not, she has a million photos stored in boxes, and family trees typed up on paper that need to be digitized. Lucky for me, I get to know her, visit her, and listen to the wonderful stories she has. Find yourself a beautiful lady (or handsome man) who has collected your ancestors' stories. Maybe the stories are spread out among many relatives. That's great! You get to meet more people! Do it. You won't be sorry. 

Was this post a little too long to read? That's alright. In summary, family history = awesome. Doing family history = worth it. I will walk through it with you, because that's what I'm doing now. Want to join in? Good. I thought so. ;)