Friday, October 28, 2016

Crockpot Comfort Foods

It has finally happened!  The temperatures are beginning to feel nice and fall-ish at last.  And I personally couldn't be happier.

One of my favorite things about cooler weather is indulging in some warm, yummy comfort foods. Especially soups, chili, and stews.  However, because I can be a tiny bit lazy - nothing takes the "comfort" out of "comfort foods" like having to spend half the afternoon doing a lot of prepping, mixing, and cooking.

Enter the crockpot.  Best.  Invention.  Ever.

A couple of years ago I shared five of my favorite crockpot recipes.  This seems like the perfect opportunity to revisit that post:

Five Great Crockpot Recipes for Cold Weather
I am all about cooking in the crock pot.  It prevents having to turn on the oven and heat the kitchen up during the summer months.  And it's perfect for making delicious soups, chili, and stews which give the house a warm, cozy "homey" smell and feel during the colder months of the year.

Over time I have found a few big winners which my family has approved - giving them a permanent place in my recipe folder. (and yes... a few failed experiments - but that's not what this post is about)

1)  Cockpot Gumbo
Spicy, warm, and de-li-cious!  I used to make gumbo on the stove top.  But I finally came up with a version for the crock pot.  Just as yummy - and super easy to toss together.

2)  Creamy White Chicken Chili
The family loves a good chili.  (in fact, this is the first of two which made it to this list!)  This recipe from Lovely Little Kitchen is a delightful change from the typical tomato based chili.

3)  Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
Several members of my family have voted this recipe from Creme de la Crumb "The best soup I have ever eaten".  Seriously... it's just that good. Even the pickiest eater in the house keeps requesting it!

4)  My Basic Chili
 This recipe is written for stove top preparation.  But once the meat is browned, all the ingredients can be tossed in the crock pot and left on low for a minimum of 4 hours.  You'll have a warm and yummy chili waiting for you at the end of a long, cold day.

5)  Roasted Chicken Dinner
I love a good chicken dinner as much as anyone.  But it always just seemed like so much work to make a whole roast chicken.  Not so!  Especially if the crock pot is doing most of the work for you!

What are some if your favorite crockpot recipes?

(Access recipes by clicking the name!)

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Spirit of Gratitude: October 27

I Am Thankful For:
Dinner out with the Man of the House
PF Changs lettuce wraps
Staying up late watching scary movies
Nap time
The grand baby declaring he would only nap if he can lay down with the dog

Reading The Wizard of Oz with the grand baby
Watching the World Series with my favorite former Ohioan

The Indians winning Game 1
The Male Offspring is learning  to drive a manual transmission

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Birthday Wish List

The countdown is on, y'all!  One week from today I mark another year of being in this planet.  I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not that I actually had to do the math to remember how old I'll be.  (47.  If you really want to know)

The Man of the House asked me last weekend what I want to do and what I want for the big day.  I still haven't answered him, because I honestly had no clue.  I decided it was a good sign that I don't have a big list of wants at the ready.  Maybe that means I have reached a point in life where I have achieved  some level of contentment.

But, I decided what with my birthday and then Christmas coming up, it was probably time to start putting together a wish list.

Besides the usual gift cards to Michael's or Hobby Lobby or a mani/pedi - which are always on my wish list - here are a few fun things I'm hoping for this year:

After the heel fell apart on my ankle boots toward the end of last winter, I knew I would be needing a new pair this season.  Somehow, I still haven't gotten around to picking up a pair.  Probably because all the ones I like seem to be on the pricey side.  But I could use a new pair...

I really love the look of these Frye short boots:

Or these by Lucky for a shorter bootie:

As an 80's gal, I had my ears pierced multiple times.  Over several years, I neglected all but the bottom piercing; but recently I have started trying to wear earrings in the top two piercings also.  That's why I am in love with these triple hoop earrings which are created by an artist here in North Carolina:
Phoenix Mountain Creations on Etsy

I adore a cute watch!  (And have several needing batteries at the moment)  I also adore bees.  So, when I saw this watch it was...  well, like a bee to honey.

And while we are talking about bees...  I'm completely  head over heels for this bee mandala t-shirt!!  
Astrolaboratory on Etsy

Last, but certainly not least is this crown ring which I have had my eye on for a while.  I think I would want this sized big enough to wear on my index finger.
Mountain Metalcraft on Etsy

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Spirit of Gratitude: October 20

I can't believe I have gotten this deep into October without writing a single gratitude journal post!  Yikes!  I could blame it on the month being very busy, in a good way - which is one more thing to be grateful for!

I Am Thankful For:
The Man of the House's birthday
Soup in the crockpot
Going to a Styx concert with my sweetie

Beautiful Autumn weather
Listening to the male offspring play guitar

The silliness of the grand baby
Late night crocheting

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Flashback Friday: Just Words?

I originally wrote the following two years ago .  Today, I feel compelled obligated to share it once again.  What we say matters !  "It was just words" is neither an excuse nor an apology.  Words can hurt and leave deep scars.  Think first, then speak kindness!  

Are You Mean?

It seems to be an epidemic recently... a sort of social game to belittle, mock, make fun of, and say hurtful things about people - both those in the public eye and not.

We stand in line at the grocery store next to the magazine pointing out which celebrities have cellulite or the "worst beach bodies" and the like.  Mocking pregnant women for how much weight they gain, or obsess over how quickly they lose the "baby weight".  We read online gossip about who is cheating on who and which marriage is on the rocks.  We watch television shows discussing who wore which outfit better, or who looked fabulous (or not) on the red carpet to some awards show.

We post cruel comments on social media and under blogs. Hiding behind a keyboard to be our most hateful, judgmental selves.

Women gather and complain about their husbands. To talk about each other. Whisper across grocery carts, in school pick up lanes, and around corners in church corridors about what this one or that one wore/did/said.

We give others less than flattering labels. We focus on their short comings.  Point our their flaws.We build ourselves up, try to cover our insecurities - by tearing down others.

And then we wonder why our children bully. We can't tell them to "be nice" and then act the way we do.  Children learn by example.

It's time to break the pattern!  I challenge you today to only be kind and encouraging.  Build someone up by complimenting them.  Sit on your hands or bite your tongue when you feel hurtful, negative, judgmental words rising up in you.  Refuse to take part in gossip about others.  Speak love.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunday Inspiration: Dwell

Dwelling in God.  It's not about busyness.  It's not a long to-do list.  It's not even a long "don't do" list.   It isn't constant working and striving.

It's resting there.  Finding peace there.  It's just BEING there in His presence.

May you enjoy His peace and rest today, friends.
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

My Love

Today we celebrate the Man of the House's birthday.

I adore this man!  He's so much more than just my husband.  He's my best friend, my rock, my biggest supporter, my fellow explorer/traveler, and my heart's joy.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life!

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Autumn

As I mentioned in my post from Monday, I have been doing a little Autumn decorating around the house.  Fall is my favorite season.  I think because it's such a cozy season. And I love adding all the comforting accents of rich reds, oranges, and browns.  Along with the spicy pumpkin and apple scents in my wax burners.

I thought today I could give y'all a brief tour...

This has been my go to porch decoration for the past few years.  Now, to be completely honest I haven't actually created it yet this year; but it should be happening by the end of the weekend.  I also have a little wire basket I plan to fill with some little gourds.

In the entry way you'll find a cute wooden pumpkin and some candles on the small cabinet where keys are (supposed to be) kept.  And these pillows I picked up last year in the dollar spot at Target rest on the storage bench.

The mantle is pumpkin and candle central!  Lots of fun pumpkin finds over the years from Michael's.  My new yummy smelling jar candle from Kirklands.  And the Give Thanks box I picked up the night my youngest sister and I were thrown out of a Hobby Lobby.  (not really - we were asked politely to leave because we didn't realize they had closed 10 minutes ago.  But we like to make it sound dramatic and exciting.  LOL)

The kitchen table scape displays a simple runner (this year's Target dollar spot find), a red wooden tray from Kirklands, my napkin holder, a set of adorable  pumpkin salt and pepper shakers, a pretty thrift store find pitcher with some artificial flowers and berries, and a pair of candles.

There you have it.  Simple, but it all makes me happy.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Currently... October

October has arrived!  I love this month.  The weather finally starts to behave like fall (usually).  It is always so beautiful with the leaves changing color.  We celebrate the Man of the House's birthday.  And Halloween wraps things up.

What else is going on as we head into this last quarter of 2016?

Reading:  The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  Somewhat Downton Abbey-ish in the setting, time period and general theme. At least from what I've read to this point.

Eating:  Soups!  The weather has taken a slightly cooler trend and I am ready for pots of yummy comfort foods.   I have two on the menu for this week.   Plus the gumbo we had last night.

Making:  Besides soups? A whole bunch of cotton washcloths for customers!

Enjoying:  Decorating the house for fall.  When the offspring were young, I decorated more in a Halloween theme.  Now that they are older, I stick with a general fall, harvest-y look that can carry right through Thanksgiving.  I'll share more on this later in the week.

Anticipating:  The Man of the House's birthday next week!  Although he hasn't given me any ideas of what he wants to do to celebrate yet.

Feeling:  To say "a mixed bag" might even be an understatement.  In just the past couple of weeks I had my feelings hurt pretty significantly which left me very angry and very sad.  I haven't been sleeping great; so I'm tired.  Which can leave me grumpy. And I've also had some things which have me feeling very stressed.  So... ye.  On the other hand, I've had some great evenings out with the man of the house, which make me very happy and help me relax.  

What are you currently up to?  Share in the comments, or write your own "Currently" post and share the link!

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

When It All Just Feels Like Too Much

So much sadness and badness seems to be showing itself in our world right now.  On top of all the general violence, anger, and hatred pouring out - individuals deal with sickness, hurt feelings, heartaches, pain, and more.  It all can seem so overwhelming.

As I pondered it all this morning, an old saying came to mind.  It's one I've heard over and over in my life.  One I've even said in the past.

The thing is this - at this point in my life and my relatonship with God, I no longer believe that to be true.  

I believe God gives us more than we can handle all the time.  Things that are too big for us.  To hard for us.  Too painful.  Too difficult. Things we can't deal with on our own. 

He allows these "too much" times in our life to remind us of our dependence on Him.  To remind us of His strength.  His wisdom.  His power.  To teach us to turn to Him.  To lean on Him.  To trust Him.

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