So this is the first week of homeschooling for us. There is still a part of me that can’t believe I just typed that. Never would I have thought homeschooling would feel like the best option for our family. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t wait until our kids were school age. FINALLY I could get a bit of my old “normal” back. A few hours that were mine.

I didn’t have too lofty of ideas of what I would do with that time, it’s often the mundane solitary tasks that I miss the most. Using the restroom without interruptions perhaps, or taking a leisurely stroll through the market without little hands reaching out of the cart at brightly colored packages. Or maybe I would just sit. Yeah, that sounds nice.


But age five came more quickly than I had anticipated and as the time to really think about the decision for school came it was homeschooling that seemed the most appropriate for him and for us.

We’ve found a great group in which we are surrounded by support, lots of other children, and one in which Baron will get the opportunity to learn from others, rather than just listening (or not listening) to me all day.

We remind ourselves that we are taking it a year at a time. In times of increased anxiety and nervousness, I tell myself it’s a day a time.

As they say, never say never. For here we are. Another year with all three at home and I am thrilled. There will be more noise, more laughter, more wrestling, more glitter, and glue. More tears, more messes, more time, and there will be warm, home-cooked lunches.

On this particular day our timing was perfect as we grabbed a just-out-of-the-oven baguette from a local bakery on our way home. Gabe came up from his garage office and we all gathered around the table to enjoy this hot sandwich slathered with sweet apple butter, topped with smokey ham and aged Gruyere. The broiler melted and caramelized the cheese. I topped mine with arugula, the others didn’t but we all dipped our sandwich in mustard.

This time is sweet and this season is short in the perspective of a lifetime. So right now here we are and with this hot sandwich by my side I’m thinking this is one of the best seasons yet.

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Love sandwiches as much as I do? Check out the sandwich game going on over at and vote for your favorite.

Disclaimer: Hillshire asked me to create a recipe using their product. I was compensated for this post. The content is original and Rodriguez family approved.


The perfect Fall sandwich

Sweet and salty, tangy and fresh this sandwich epitomizes Fall.

⅓ of a baguette, sliced in half
¼ cup apple butter
3 slices each Hillshire honey and smoked ham
2 ounces gruyere
arugula (optional)
2 tablespoons good mustard (our favorite is Maille)

Pre-heat your broiler to high.
Divide the apple butter between the two pieces of baguette. Spread evenly then top with thin slices of ham. Finish with the gruyere then place on a baking sheet under the broiler. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden in places.
Carefully remove from the oven and top with arugula, if using. Serve with mustard.

66 Responses to “Fall’s sandwich”

  1. Shannalee

    Kudos to you for being brave enough to take this on, Ashley—and for doing it with such wonderful lunches. It’s so inspiring! And it honestly strikes me as a true blessing for your family.

  2. Crystal Malek

    Ooo, lovely sandwich! Yes, having ALL babies at home ALL the time can be a tad bit overwhelming at times. But, like you said, the season is short. I’m so thankful I get to be with my crazy little bunch, witnessing all the little things I’d certainly miss if they weren’t here with me. I will say this, getting my 3 days/week at the gym has been a major help w/my sanity. I’m getting healthy while getting some quiet me time as well. A win-win. 🙂

  3. la domestique

    I just made a batch of apple butter yesterday, and it hadn’t occurred to me to put it on a sandwich. Looks delicious. It’s so nice to enjoy a homemade lunch together as a family. 🙂

  4. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I’m not going to lie… this sandwich looks darn good. And I’m not even a meat eater.

    On a separate note, I love how this dish has so many textures. You don’t even need props to make this look interesting. Gorgeous, darling!

  5. Snippets of Thyme

    Congratulations to you on making what I know is a very very very very difficult decision. When my son hit second grade, we launched into the same scary world. When made yet another move across the country, my 5th grade daughter (at the time) decided to join us.

    You have just the right attitude. Year at a time and then a day at a time are good focus points. Now that mine are in high school, we have a combination of all sorts of schooling. We have online high school courses, small private homeschool classes, and the traditional learn from “mom” courses. High school definitely presented the most challenges for us.

    My daughter is entering the college application process with strong academic scores and such a rich education to guide her into the next phase. It was messy and not perfect at all but a beautiful process to take with my children. Let me know if you have questions.

  6. Prerna@IndianSimmer

    Every morning right after I leave her at her play school (which lasts for maybe 3-4 hours) I say to myself that I will homeschool my daughter because I miss her as soon as that steps inside that door and blows a kiss in the air waving me bye! Then in a few hours she comes back home and within minutes the whole house is a battlefield and right then and there I say I guess homeschooling? Umm, will have to think again! 🙂 Your story just inspired me to take a step towards it! And apple butter in a meat sandwich? What a genius idea! Never tasted it before I am sure it will taste divine.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Prerna – I go through that very roller coaster of emotions everyday. I just keep reminding myself that right now this feels right even though the chaos and the work is exhausting. We have a babysitter come two mornings a week. That way I’m able to focus on the things I need to do (blog and such) and maintain some sanity. I’m not afraid to send them upstairs to play when I need a time out. A day at a time. 🙂

  7. Smylee

    That sandwich looks amazing, but I wanted to comment on the rest of your post. I’m always surprised to hear others homeschool, because sometimes it feels like I’m the only one! Kudos to you for making that amazing decision. It’s one of the most important ones you’ll ever make—being home with your kids and taking of your own time and life to teach them the way you think they should be taught. It can be tasking, but it has many rewards! Your kids will thank you! Trust me, because I’m a homeschool graduate, and I loved every minute of it! 🙂

  8. Colleen

    It goes by SO fast! My kids are 14 and 16 and it just never seemed like the right time to send them off to school… so, one year at a time, we never did. They are the joys, frustrations, inspirations of my days, and I know they will be moving away soon enough. I’d like to enjoy their company while I can. Your blog is lovely, thank you for the delicious visuals.

  9. Sophia Katt

    Homeschooling is a crazy hard decision for a lot of families–good luck on your choice!

    Thanks for being so upfront about the Hillshire Farms disclaimer, as a number of bloggists aren’t always so honest. I must admit that using this processed ham product with sodium nitrates really gives me pause. HF’s corporate parent is a huge conglomerate with fairly low ecological rankings by Newsweek. I enjoy your postings that cover good locally available food a great deal, though.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Sophia – I appreciate your honesty. I took pause with agreeing to this post but the reality is we don’t always eat sustainable meat. My aim for this blog is not to paint a picture of perfection but rather one that is honest. While I do prefer to purchase local products sometimes that is not always the case. Our life is not perfect and it’s chaotic, sometimes I make sacrifices in my desires in order to retain my sanity. I felt it was more dishonest to not take on the post as I continue to want to be as real as possible. Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and so sensitively voicing your opinions. I am proud that this is a place where that is welcome.

  10. Melinda Ortley

    Hi, there. Just came across your blog and I’m in love. I’m beginning my journey into food photography and your blog is chock full of inspiration. Which lens would you recommend for food photography?
    We have home schooled going on 4 years now (10 and 7 year old girls) and it’s a journey in itself. It def. makes working a bit more challenging. My advice would be to be open to change at any given moment. What works one month, may not work the next, and to breath deep, while letting go of all of the educational guidelines and know that if you are continually learning your children will follow suite.

  11. Hannah

    I’m sighing as I read your words…time is so sweet and the days fly by. Savor these moments with your kiddies. Mine are in high school and I can honestly say each day is a joy with them. I cherish every memory and look forward to future adventures with them!

    Your sandwich has me drooling…I don’t eat meat but I think it can stand on its own deliciously without the ham.

    I so enjoy your blog! 🙂

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Hannah – Thank you for these words. So encouraging to hear from someone who has walked in my shoes. These days can be long but it’s a good reminder to think of the fruit of these days.

  12. Lola

    Oh my! That’s my kind of sandwich! Thanks for creating it–I know what’s going on my shopping list!! And as for homeschooling…great approach taking it one year at a time…this is our 12th year homeschooling and our 1st (and only) year teaching all 5 at home–it has been a journey I never expected and have much loved.

  13. Trace

    That’s so funny that you would write this post. Yesterday I was going through the leftovers of 17 years of homeschooling that somehow made it into four boxes and stayed their for four more years. (I was probably too tired to care much about dealing with them earlier!) The memories – from kindergarten all the way through high school – where more poignant than I anticipated. I spent an afternoon revisiting their painful struggles and inspiring accomplishments. I am so grateful for every day I had with my three. They are all amazing adults now, successful, happy and very close to each other and me. It was worth every difficult day and fears of failure.

  14. Tiffany

    Love it. I just love that you said Never say never. I have always said I would never homeschool my kids, but as the year approaches and we look at our options… homeschooling it will be. I’d love to know what curriculum/group you are doing.
    Also the sandwich looks delish.

  15. Christina Bentley

    Congratulations on your first week of homeschooling, Ashley! What a beautiful path you are venturing upon. It is full of great joy, some struggles, and much growth. But don’t be afraid! The Lord is leading you and he will continue to give you what is needed for yourself and for your children. This is what helps me as I homeschool our four boys~I am not doing this on my own. And when I am tired or things are hard, I call out for help and he picks me up. He lets me be the child sitting on his lap, finding comfort and rest in him. Lately he has been reminding me to enjoy my time with my family. It is sweet. It is short. It is precious. I see that you share this same feeling 🙂 May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you as you go on, moment by moment, year by year. If ever you want to talk about boys and homeschooling, feel free to email me! ~Christina (and Shon) Bentley

  16. Niki of Spilled Ingredients

    Wow, I think I could sip a whole lot of coffee while chatting you up about your decisions to homeschool. A fairly new transplant to Seattle myself… I’m already wondering what age 5 will bring for my three year old. I vascilate back and forth constantly. Best of luck to you. I’ll live vicariously for a couple of years. 🙂

  17. Simply Vintagegirl

    How exciting to have had your first week of homeschooling! I was home educated all the way through to graduation. The Lord used it to grow us and draw our family closer together – home education is a wonderful blessing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

    May the Lord bless you on this journey,
    Emily Rose

    P.S. That sandwich looks delicious!

  18. Katie

    Oh my. I am so incredibly glad I found your blog through Pinterest! Gorgeous photos, amazing food…can’t wait to go through your archives! I live over in Port Townsend…glad to meet another Washingtonian online. 🙂

  19. Dru

    I’d homeschool in a minute! Every kid I have met who has been homeschooled with groups of kids has been happy, secure, well adjusted. And getting into tough colleges, going onto work as productive members of society. Their parents love them, get to hang with them, usually don’t allow tv and all those ads to be the greatest influence in their is all good, enjoy!

  20. Nicole Franzen

    sandwiches like those, make me miss eating ham. yum! but I choose not to eat the piggies anymore. When I lived in Argentina it was Ham and Cheese everything. Never got old 🙂

  21. Y

    I can never say no to ham and cheese in a sandwich, but this, with apple butter to boot, looks like a complete masterpiece. Yum!

  22. Lauren

    I love the Maille whole-grain mustard and use it in my vinaigrettes! I love the idea of apple butter with the ham and gruyère. Such a great idea, I’ll have to try it at my house.

    Good luck with homeschooling!

  23. M.

    this sandwich looks so beautiful, and so good, i just started my experiments with sandwiches and your fall’s option is next to do 🙂

  24. Jenna

    This sandwich was delicious. I had just made some apple butter yesterday and didn’t have any ham. Used turkey instead. So good! Never thought about putting apple butter in a sandwich before.

  25. Lindsay Wormser

    This sandwich looks delicious and was super surprised to see the use of such a standard ham, made me feel grateful that something so sophisticated looking doesn’t have to break the bank. Thanks too for the honesty, the more I talk with moms, the more I realize it’s the simple things they desire, like just to sit without interruption, in peace for a bit. Who would have thought?! Bless you!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      @Lindsay – I appreciate this comment. While we do prefer to eat local and sustainable meat sometime it’s unrealistic for us. But that doesn’t mean our food has to be compromised. Thanks, again.

  26. molly

    aw, ashely, way to go! one year/day/moment seems like the way to take it, exploring and learning as you go. and yes, warm lunches i think must be one of the highlights 🙂

    as for the apple butter, that’s just plain GENIUS. love love love apples and cheese, but sliced apples on a sandwhich never quite seem right. but now apple BUTTER… and since we just picked fifty pounds of apples this afternoon, I dare say the timing is perfect.

    happy weeks two, three and four of your journey 🙂


  27. Mary Johnson

    I just stumbled on to your blog, and I must say three things:
    1) LOVE IT. Your writing is lovely and thoughtful.
    2) Your pictures are gorgeous.
    3) I am now starving. I love a good baguette with salty ham, dijon, and either some Brie or Gruyere.
    4) Okay, this is four things. Oh, well. We are homeschooling, too; and while there are days where I think I’ve had it, the good days obliterate any negative thoughts I may have previously had. Keep it up! I really feel it’s worth it.


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