Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Chili

Looking for something inexpensive, easy and delicious for dinner?  Don't worry - I gotcha.

I made this dish for a freezer meal group I'm a part of.  You can read more about how it works HERE.  I ended up making seven meals which I put together in gallon sized Ziploc's and froze flat.  Nice and compact for storing in the freezer.

This chili is really flavorful and has just the right amount of spices that everyone will love.  It's great as a chili but also works well in tortillas as tacos.  It would make a good chili to put on top hot dogs or nachos.  Assembling the meal is simple and cooking it is even easier.  Flick a switch on your crockpot and walk away.  What's easier than that?!?

Here's how it's done -

  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 c. salsa (I used Pace )
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cans chili beans in sauce
  • 1 Tb. oregano
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

If making freezer meals - place all ingredients into Ziploc bag and freeze.  When ready to cook remove from bag and place in crockpot (frozen or thawed).  Cook on high for 4 hours until chicken easily shreds with a fork.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Updating the Deck - Phase 1

It's spring so naturally I've been gradually emerging from the cave which is my house and getting out into the sun to work on some house projects.  Plus, I'm tired of being fat and I've been looking for ways to "work out" without actually working out.  Saturday's project was to tackle the deck.

When we bought the house in 2007 the deck pretty much looked exactly like this.

Outdated lattice and dead dry looking wood.  I never had a deck growing up and I just figured that the deck was old and that's just what they looked like.  I did not learn the magic of a pressure washer until recently.  My neighbor just built a beautiful brand new deck which I have been enviously staring at for the last couple of months.  I thought I was just doomed to have the crappy deck.  But last week he had his deck stained and a man came out and pressure washed the stairs that we share at the same time {you can see them in the background}.  They were new again!  What?!?  Seriously?!  My deck isn't old and dried out!  It's just dirty!  It was like a tiny little flicker of hope burning inside me. 

I could do this.  I could make this baby awesome again.  Sweetness.

The man who did the neighbors deck quoted me $1,000 to revamp mine.  Uhhh.... no dude.  That's cool.  I think I can tackle this baby on my own.

So today was phase one.  REMOVE THE LATTICE.

Wanna see how it looks now???

Gone baby!
I did it mostly by myself {Jackson always had a tool in hand and Maggie helped me haul stuff to the curb}.  But all it took was a hammer and a chair to stand on to reach all the tall parts.

Let's look again shall we?

So much better right?!?

To remove it I just used a hammer to remove the rusty nails and to act as a crow bar.  The lattice came off fairly easily after that.  I listed the large lattice pieces on Craigslist for free {maybe someone could use them in their garden} but I'm pretty sure most of it will just be picked up by the garbage company.

It only took about 2 1/2 hours from tear down to clean up and a portion of that time was dedicated to screaming, and jumping and waiting for the big scary lizard to relocate.  He just stared at me with his creepy dead eyes, daring me to move him but there was no way in hell that was going to happen so I waited patiently for him to move on on his own.  Can you imagine if he had jumped on my face and attacked?  The horror.  Just my luck though he'll have relocated into my house now that I've torn his down.  *shudders*

Okay let's think of some happy thoughts like this cute helper -
Ahh.... that's better.  He was so determined.  He thinks he's Fix It Felix.  He kept hitting himself in the head with the hammer {I guess that's how you learn} so I eventually moved him to pliers duty.  No more accidents after that.

The deck looks better but it's a far cry from done.

Next on the deck to do list:
  •  Clean out the leaves and junk from underneath
  • Pressure wash the deck
  • Repair loose railings
  • Stain and seal the deck {I may try to match my neighbors deck but I may go with a nice dark stain.  Thoughts?}
And if you're like my mom and are wondering about that one beam that looks a little bendy, don't worry, that beam is mostly to support the lattice.  There is nothing wrong with the structure of the deck.  The three large beam are the main support beams.  I don't know yet if I'll remove those extra beams yet.  Who knows?  Probably not though. 

Hope you feel inspired to get out there and tackle a project at your house that you've been putting off.  Even if it means getting out there and doing something that looks tough all by yourself, I'm here to testify that YOU CAN DO IT!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter Bunny Egg Cozies & Owl

Did you have a nice Easter?  I hope you did!

Ours was very nice and relaxing.  Church and the bunny stuff and dinner with friends.  What could be better than that?!

A few days later we were surprised with a great big box of even more Easter stuff from Nonie and Grandpa.  Inside were the cutest little bunnies I ever saw.  My mom had knit these adorable Easter Bunny Egg Cozies.  I died.  Inside each one was a little Cadbury egg that I did not let the kids touch because I did not want them messing with the bunnies.  I declared them MINE!

I've showed you other great stuff that my mom has knit or crocheted before HERE and HERE.  She's just so talented.  I can't get enough.  If you're on Ravelry (a social network for yarn enthusiasts) you can check out her page and even more of her projects.  Her user name is MOBOYLE.

The pattern she used is called Huggie Bunnies and is available for free download from Ravelry by Sandra Paul.

{P.S. If you're wondering about the background fabric, it's a clothing cotton I found recently at JoAnn Fabrics.  There's a whole line that goes with it.  Super cute.  It will soon be a dress so keep an eye out for that post in the future.}

Mom put a Cadburry egg in each one but they could easily fit a regular sized egg too.  Such a cute little project that I can't wait to save and pull out for next years Easter baskets.  Maybe by then I'll be more generous and share with the kids.  Maybe.

But the bunnies weren't all that Nonie knitted up for the kids.  She also included this adorable little Owl Puff.  I thought the eyes were especially neat.  It's little rounds of felt attached with rounded safety buttons.

The pattern for the Owl Puffs is available for free on Ravelry by Jenna Krupar.

Hope you feel inspired by my talented mom and all these adorable patterns! 

Kisses from the Cutts Family!  xoxo

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