Wrap it Up: Weekly Link List

Columbia River

I realize I’m a bit late posting on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but you need to see the photos of the balloon release that happened.  Stunning!

Better security questions when setting up a new account on the internet.  Made me laugh.

Sign language has accents.  Who know!

I have a son with ADHD, so I was interested to read this

Joshua Tree is on my list of places to visit

This article is so disturbing and I can’t get it out of my mind.  There are people who’s job it is to monitor all content posted to the internet (specifically on social media web sites) to make sure beheadings, porno, etc. are kept off.  The long term effects of doing this kind of work and looking at this content for hours on end takes it toll.

Why we love Tina Fey

Big batch Thanksgiving cocktails

25 stores and what they should actually be called (#24 and #25!)

Come closer

Because we all needed to see this video of a baby otter learning how to swim

If you want to know what it’s really like to homeschool, my daughter will tell you

Have a great weekend!


White Bean Spinach Soup with Tortellini

White bean spinach soup

Me and tomato soup go way, way back.

When I was pregnant with my son, all I wanted the first trimester was tomato soup and grilled cheese.  Pretty straightforward, right?  Not homemade tomato soup…the canned Campbell’s condensed variety with rice.  It was easy enough that my husband could prepare it for me.  It was just about all I could stomach those first few months, but after a prenatal visit at which I lost (rather than gained weight), the doctor told me I had to increase my calories.  He gave me permission to eat lots of ice cream and I never lost weight again that pregnancy.

Off subject, I know…but my love for tomato soup has not waned and I’m always game to try a new variation.

A few notes about variation:

-Use whatever stock you’d like:  vegetable to keep it vegetarian, chicken is delicious, and beef definitely adds richness

-feel free to use a cheese or meat tortellini.  You could even use a short non-filled pasta, such as ditalini

-kale, spinach, chard-any of these would work

-I highly recommend cooking your own beans.  You can buy them from bulk bins, cook a large batch, and freeze them.  You can find everything you need to know about cooking your own beans here  or here  (you can even cook them in a slow cooker or the oven!)

White Bean Spinach Soup with Tortellini


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 12 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (see note above)
  • 3 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 12 ounces cheese tortellini
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-regianno cheese

Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add olive oil and butter. Add onion, stir to coat, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, paprika, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the fresh spinach, stirring continuously until it wilts. Add the crushed tomatoes, beans, and stock. Increase heat and bring soup to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes Add the tortlellini and cook according to package directions (about 5 minutes or so). Stir in the grated cheese before serving.

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A Taste of the Whole Foods Thanksgiving Holiday Menu

I admit that I am a newbie to Whole Foods.  For a long time, the nearest store to me was in downtown Baltimore and even though I make frequent trips into the city, it just wasn’t super convenient when there are a plethora of grocery stores in the suburbs where I live.  Whole Food’s reputation of being “America’s healthiest grocery store”, however, was one that I was very familiar with.  I had seen documentaries about Whole Food’s business practices and their philosophy of partnering with local and sustainable suppliers.

Whole Foods makes grocery shopping easy for discerning (sometimes overly crunchy) shoppers like me because they take pride in being thoroughly transparent about the source of everything they sell.  Visit their “About Our Products” page, and you’ll get all the information  you could ever want to know about their suppliers and quality standards.  When you finish reading a story about any of their numerous suppliers, you’ll feel like you know them personally.

Do you want to know about food safety?  Whole Foods knows.

Wondering about their position on GMO’s?  They spell it out for you. 

So when I learned that a new Whole Foods store would be opening a mere five miles from me this past summer, I was pretty excited to check them out.  The new store, located in Columbia, Maryland,  recently held an event for local bloggers to taste their Thanksgiving holiday menu and I was lucky enough to be invited.

( All photos were taken with my phone, so I apologize for quality.  I wasn’t sure of the lighting situation at the event, so I didn’t lug my DSLR along)


About 15-20 local bloggers (and their guests) got to sample Whole Food’s holiday menu offerings while we listened to in-store chef Patrick discuss and answer questions about each dish.  It was pretty impressive to hear about his visit to the local farm to check out the living conditions of the turkey we were enjoying.


The best thing about this holiday menu (besides being delicious!) is the versatility.  Even if you like to cook like I do, you probably don’t want to be spending all of your holiday in the kitchen.  Whole Foods gives you the option of buying your turkey fully cooked or you can cook it yourself, and all of the sides can simply be reheated before you’re ready to serve them.  From appetizer platters to dessert*, Whole Foods has it covered.  If you’re vegetarian, Whole Foods has you covered too.  You can pick and choose what you want (or opt for a full dinner for 4 people), order it all online in the comfort of your pajamas, and pick it up at your convenience (I recommend getting dressed for this part, though).


In case you were wondering (I was)…they will be offering an upcoming Christmas holiday menu for pre-order as well.

*healthy doesn’t mean skipping dessert!  We were served a pumpkin pumpkin pie, which is a pumpkin pie with a layer of pumpkin mousse on top.  It was aaahh-mazing!

Oh yeah, swag happened…presented in this adorable bag (a collaboration between Whole Foods and Etsy)!



Disclaimer:   All opinions expressed here are my own.  With the exception of luscious food, I was not compensated in any way for this post.









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