Somehow it really hit me today that Thanksgiving is just over a week away! It made me think of this cheap and cheerful place setting that I made several years back. Small terracotta pots from the Dollar Store (you know my love for this store!) were sponge/rag painted with gold, crimson red and hunter green paints - also bought on the cheap from local crafts superstore. Becomes a napkin holder or could be done with any painted theme for any party/holiday to hold candy or other goodies at the table. Think painted pink with white polka dots with gumballs for a girls birthday party. Even better if you have kids who'd like a project over the next couple of weeks. Let them paint/sponge away :)
I have been making this chili for years and it's an adaptation of a couple of different recipes. It's not super spicy but you can tailor this to your tastes based on the type of chili seasoning packages you use. My family loves it and kids seem to love it even more when topped not only with cheese and sour cream but a good handful of fritos as well...ENJOY - and remember a crock pot meal is organized multi-tasking at its best!
1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1.5 lbs (about 5) Italian Sausages, casing removed - pick sweet, mild or hot depending on your tastes - I always use sweet.
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
2 envelopes (.75 oz) chili seasoning mix - pick them to your tastes - I always use one mild and one low sodium
1 16 oz can of beans, drained - again pick which kind your family likes - we're not kidney bean fans so I use white cannelli beans but black would be great too
2 cans diced tomatoes (one of which is "chili ready" tomatoes)
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 15oz cans low sodium chicken broth
Brown meats and onions in skillet, drain and have ready to add to crock. While meat is browning, add all other items to crock (BE SURE AND USE A LINER FOR EASY CLEAN-UP) and stir to combine, then add meat/onion mix. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. This freezes great and makes enough for a crowd or dinner for 4-6 TWICE. I usually serve half one night for dinner and freeze rest for a quick dinner down the road.
Veterans Day - Supporting Our Troops Past and Present and maybe cleaning out a closet in the process...
It's Veterans/Remembrance Day as well as the birthday of the Marine Corp this weekend - many of us with a 3 day weekend to celebrate. Is there a chance that maybe you can spend a few minutes finding a way to thank our troops both past and present? If so - please check out this amazing group: www.operationgratitude.com and find/like them on facebook as well. This group sends out 50,000 (yes, that's correct) care packages to troops deployed as well as to wounded warriors and veterans TWICE a year. Yes, that's 100,000 care packages a year. I crochet and donate scarves each year as they aim to put a handmade scarf in each of the 50K care packages sent in the fall/winter. They also collect numerous new/or gently items used like paperback books and small stuffed animals such as "beanie babies" for the packages. I bet you've got some of the things they are looking for in a closet or tucked away just waiting to be moved out of your house and onto helping someone else. Our family is also a monthly $ donor to help fund the costs of shipping care packages. Please check out their website for a full listing of ways you can help. As I have said before, the most we can do to support the troops is the least we can do...As the holidays approach, consider their sacrifices as well as their families left behind while we plan how to feed and host our loved ones over the next several weeks...Freedom has never been free - God Bless America.
One thing I've noticed in working on basement/garage clean outs and talking to people that those items we use less frequently we seem to have more of than anything else...We all know how much milk we have in the fridge because we are constantly using and mentally keeping an inventory everytime we open the fridge. Things in the basement, garage, and storage areas - not so much. This is why we either have 8 bottles of bug spray, paint roller covers, containers of round-up, etc or NONE. Stop wasting $$ buying too many of the same things! Once you have organized these areas and sorted your items by category/use: TAKE a close up photo of the shelf or area with your phone so you can have a "PICTURE INVENTORY" for an area which a mental inventory isn't always reliable. You'll always have your phone with you so you can do a quick check. Update these photos after each major season so you know what you'll need heading into the next.
This is the "after" pic of a garage clean out and re-org job that I worked on today. Lots of fun and I love knowing my client will happily be able to pull both cars into her garage tonight. Check out the project before/after tab of the website to see all the before and after pics. I also have an album posted to the Facebook page.
I’ve decided to start a new blog feature which is to showcase a new crock pot recipe each Monday that I hope will help you as you meal plan for the week. Many of you know my great love of the crock pot and making/freezing meals in advance…I have a total of 4 crock pots of different sizes/uses and they can really make a huge change in your weekly meal planning and prep especially this time of year and through the winter. Due to personal preferences and crazy schedules – detailed meal planning may not be up everyone’s alley BUT having a delicious meal ready to go with little prep that cooks while you are doing something else is loved by all.
Crock pot cooking is organized multi-tasking at its best! Don’t forget to buy the crock-pot liners for easy clean up. Can you believe that clean up issues are what people tell me is the main reason they don’t use it more! Spend $2 for 3 liners and never look back! This recipe was bubbling away in my crock yesterday and was my lunch today. I have adapted it from a Cooking Light 5 ingredient Cookbook:
Mediterranean Beef Stew:
2 large zucchini, cut into chunks
1– 1.5 lb beef stew meat, “bite size -small cut” if pre-cut at
store or cut into ½’’ pieces at home
2-14oz cans small/petite cut “garlic & olive oil” diced tomatoes
Generous shake over all meat /veg in pot of “shawarma meat”
(Shawarma is a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean spice blend popular in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Syria. The blend contains coriander, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, pepper, etc. and has a smoky/sweet quality to it.
It can be found in International Grocery stores or International areas of
Layer zucchini, then meat and tomatoes, spice in pot. Cook on low 8 hours or 5 hours on high if pressed for time. Serve with hot buttered bread/rolls.
Different and delicious!
This note is for everyone who got in touch and asked about the metal shoes trays I featured in the album on my FB page "Landing Area Ideas"...I know they can be found thru many on-line catalogue resources (i.e. Improvements) but thanks to my friend's keen eye...they've been spotted at Target for $25...Not bad when you can't put a price on a clean floor and such a help to corral the shoes at whatever door you enter most...
I recently went to a jewelry party at a friend's house and noticed the frames/boards that the consultant had from her company to display/stage the items available for sale. It got me thinking...I can make that and it would be great for storing/staging/displaying the items I use most each week. I have a big jewelry case that stores away the things I use less frequently but my other items are usually left on my dresser top at night before putting back on the next day. Well, not any longer :) I picked up the frame for $3 at a flea market, used two coats of white paint, added 5 small hooks, bought a bucks worth of linen to wrap and glue around the back and now I have my finished piece. This can be hung in a closet or behind a door out of the way but is pretty enough to be hung anywhere. I love the possibilities as far as paint colors/fabric combos especially for a younger girls room. This idea is also super for making custom pin up boards as all you'd need is to string ribbon along the fabric within frame so you could pin/clip photos or other items. Could be used above a desk or anywhere in a kids room. Any large wooden frame can be repurposed with 2 coats of paint and transformed into something super.
Jen Payne, CPA, Professional Organizer and mom to two boys: Brendan (17) and Ryan (15).