Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Chili Recipe

It seems like there are a gazillion ways to make chili and each one varies in taste, texture, etc.  About 2 years ago, I set out to find my "go-to" chili recipe and after trying numerous ones, I landed on this one and haven't deviated since.  This recipe, by Jeanne Allen, comes from the "Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook" (great slow cooker recipe book, by the way :-).  It reminds me of Wendy's (the fast food chain restaurant) chili....full of flavor and meat, the right amount of beans....not too thick or thin and just the right amount of spice.

The next time you're in the mood for chili, give this recipe a try...it may just become your ideal chili recipe!

Trail Chili
# of Servings:  6 large bowls

2 lbs ground beef (ground turkey also tastes great)
1 large onion, diced
28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 - 8-oz. cans tomato puree (or 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained)
1 or 2, 16-oz. cans kidney beans, undrained (yes, undrained....not a typo :-)
4-oz. can diced green chilies
1 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. mild chili powder (IMPORTANT: Be sure your chili powder says "mild" or this will quickly become the hottest chili in town!  Been there....done that....:-)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. pepper

1. Brown beef and onion in skillet.  Drain.  Place in slow cooker on High.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cook on High 30 minutes
3. Reduce heat to Low.  Cook 4-6 hours.

Top individual servings with shredded cheese.

*Note:  This makes enough for 3 meals for my husband and me.  So after it's cooled, I divide the leftovers into two quart-size freezer bags and freeze.  When I need something quick, I pull out a bag, thaw slightly in cold water and then pour the chili out into a pan and heat. 
**If you like your chili really spicy, substitute 2 small cans of Rotel for the 28 oz can of diced tomates.

My favorite pairing with this chili is Marie Callender's Cornbread. 
It's all natural and only requires the addition of water. Oh and it's SUPER delicious!!
*Line pan with non-stick foil or parchment lined foil
*Start checking the cornbread after 22 minutes to be sure it doesn't get overdone and dry out.
*Top with a pad of butter and a drizzle of honey.  YUM!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

BareMinerals Convertible Eyeshadow Palette - Review and Swatches

When bareMinerals introduced this palette a few months ago, I was ecstatic!  
Previously, the bareMinerals READY shadow palettes were only available in groups of 2, 4 or 8 shadows.  While I have enjoyed several of these palettes, I always found myself wishing I could customize these palettes and add the colors that I wanted in a palette.  Furthermore, I also felt that a palette with 12 shadows was much more likely to find it's way into my travel bag because, let's face it, a girl likes to have options when she travels! 

Even though I wasn't sure I loved all of the colors in this palette, I decided to purchase it, hoping that bareMinerals would eventually offer individual READY shadows that I could add to this palette.  Now, after "test-driving" it for over a month, I wanted to share my thoughts on the palette and show you swatches of the colors.

The case for the palette is plastic and looks like this....
(please pardon my dust :-)
The center section of this palette holds 3 shadows and can be removed, making it easy to throw in your purse.

On the inside of the palette, there is a good-sized mirror, 12 shadows and a travel-sized, double-ended brush....

 On the bottom of the palette, you can see the names of the shadows....

 ...as well as a diagram on how to apply the shadows.  Each shadow has a number assigned to it and this diagram shows how they recommend applying each color, according to the number it's been assigned.

Before we get to swatches, here are the pros and cons that I see with this palette:
*Love the idea of being able to "customize" my palette
*Shadows have great pigmentation and staying power
*Virtually NO fall out when applying, even the shadows with sparkle
*Good-sized shadows (the pan size appears larger than those on the other READY shadow palettes; however the net weight is the same ~ 1.5 grams)
*Shadows are easy to pop out
Favorite Colors:  Daydream, Embellish, Hot Commodity, Max Volume, Mixologist, Perspective (see * color swatches below)

*Because the shadows are popped out from the bottom of the palette, it's creates a couple of problems:
----The palette "rattles" around when you pick it up and/or carry it in a bag.
----Even though the shadows can't be popped out while the cover is closed, they can be pushed in slightly and loosened which allows for dirt and lint to get in and also makes it questionable for travel.
*My biggest disappointment, however, is the poor color selection! Take a look at these 5 colors...
While these aren't bad colors, I feel like at least 2 of these shadows are unnecessary.  I would have swapped out Stealth and Muse for at least one mid-tone matte nude color for blending and perhaps a beautiful cranberry shade.  Be aware that four of these shades (all except Custom Made) are "repeat" colors that have also been offered in 2.0 READY palettes.

The other color disappointment came with these two shades....
These are SO similar that I would have loved to see one of these colors replaced with a matte black or a lighter, more distinct, shimmery gray.

Overall, I do think this is a great palette and now that it's on-sale for $34, I think it's a great buy!  While it's not my ideal choice of colors, I will continue to hope that bareMinerals will one-day offer individual shadows for purchase that can be added to make it my ideal palette :-)

Now let's get to the Swatches:
(In Alphabetical Order)
 Custom Made
Color Description: Frosty baby pink
How to wear it:  All over the lid with In Vogue, Perspective or Panorama blended in the outer "V"
Color Description:  Matte bone
How to wear it:  Perfect for brow highlight and to help blend out darker crease colors
Color Description:  Medium, cool-toned taupe with silver glitter
How to wear it:  All over the lid with Perspective blended in the outer "V" and crease.
Hot Commodity*
Color description:  Warm, shimmery, medium bronze-gold (dupe for MAC's Woodwinked)
How to wear it:  All over the lid and softly blended in the crease
In Vogue
Color Description:  Vibrant purple with slight pearl finish
How to wear it:  Outer "V" and softly blended in the crease
Color Description:  Matte dark navy
How to wear it:  Create a navy smoky eye by placing this all over the lid; also great worked into the outer "v" with a lighter shade on the lid
Max Volume*
Color Description:  Dark, shimmery emerald green
How to wear it:  Create a green smoky eye by placing this all over the lid and using Perspective to darken the outer "V"
Color Description:  Shimmery champagne
How to wear it:  Perfect inner corner highlight
Color Description:  Super pale shimmery pink
How to wear it:  Use alone or blended with Mixologist as an inner corner highlight
Color Description:  Blue-toned charcoal gray with a slight pearl finish
How to wear it:  Blended in the outer "V" with a lighter color on the lid
Color Description:   Dark coffee brown with tiny (almost undetectable) bits of sparkle
How to wear it:  Blended in the outer "V" or all over the lid for a dark brown smoky eye
Color Description:  Pale peach with slight pearl finish
How to wear it:  Brow highlight

Coming Up.....
"My Favorite Chili Recipe"
"A Few of My Favorite Things from 2013"

Monday, December 16, 2013

Clean With Me Monday Challenge - Pre-Christmas Purge

*Fill at least one box/bag with toys, clothes or household items and donate them.

*Approximate time ~ 15-30 minutes

*Tips:  Think about the gifts you and/or your children may be receiving for Christmas (toys, clothes, etc.) and focus on getting rid of the excess before Christmas day arrives.  Make this a quick purge....don't spend too much time going through every item in your closet and in your kids' toy box.  Instead aim for those items you know right away that it's time to get rid of.  If you have family members that are particularly resistant to letting go of their things, remind them these toys/clothes are going to children/families that may not have very much and will really appreciate receiving these things.  Encourage them to join in and help you pick out a few things to donate.

Personal Notes:  As you may have noticed, I've given myself a few weeks off from cleaning projects.  When my mother-in-law was here, she remarked several times about how clean the house was and that it "looked like a show home".  So I decided I'd allow myself to do a little "coasting" through to the end of the year. There's still one more project to tackle.....but I'll get to that after Christmas :-)

Happy Cleaning!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Clean With Me Monday Challenge - Preparation For Guests

Whether you have overnight guests coming to stay with you or you are just preparing for guests to come for a party or holiday celebration, make sure your home is in tip-top shape by adding a few or all of these items to your cleaning list:

*Clean Microwave and Toaster Oven, inside and out ~ 10 minutes
*Clean out refrigerator, removing old/expired food and wiping down shelves as necessary (we've got to make room for the turkey and all those side dishes!) ~ 10 minutes
*Thoroughly wipe down counters, backsplash and top of stove ~ 5-10 minutes 
*Dust off chandelier/light fixture over table ~ 5-10 minutes
*If you haven't already done so, wash windows/patio doors in the dining room, kitchen and guest room (if you have an overnight guest staying) ~ 10 minutes/window (if only washing inside)
*Sweep off front porch and wipe off front door ~ 10 minutes
*Put clean sheets/bedding on your guest bed (if applicable) ~ 10 minutes

*Tips:  Don't spend too much time on any one task!  Hopefully, you have been keeping up with the major messes and these areas just need a good touch-up :-)

Personal Notes:  As you can see, most of these tasks cover the rooms/areas where we tend to spend the majority of our time when having guests over, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There's nothing worse than sitting down to carve the turkey and glancing up at a dust-covered chandelier over the table!  Or, having a family member need to heat up something in the microwave and open the door to find the remains of last week's tomato soup splattered on the inside.  With my mother-in-law arriving this week, you can bet I'll be checking all of these items off my cleaning list!

Happy Cleaning!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Browse My Stash - bareMinerals Eyeshadows - Browns

Welcome back for Part 3 of my bareMinerals eyeshadow collection!

Today, you get to browse my stash of 
bareMinerals Eyeshadows - Browns

Favorite, Most Worn Colors:  Coffee Bean, Drama, Queen Tiffany, Snazzy, Tiger's Eye, Twig, Wearable Pecan Medium, You Can Never Be Too Rich Brown (see * color swatches below)

Individual Swatches 

(In Alphabetical Order)
 bareMinerals Eyeshadow - Camp 
Description:  Medium shimmery brown with slight peach undertones
 bareMinerals Eyecolor - Cleopatra 
Description:  Warm sparkly cinnamon
 bareMinerals Liner Shadow - Coffee Bean*
Description:  Matte dark espresso brown
How I wear it: Wet or dry, this is my favorite eye liner shade when I don't want to wear black.  It's dark enough to provide definition but doesn't look as harsh as black.
 bareMinerals Eyecolor - Cognac Diamond 
Description:  Medium warm brown with copper sparkle
 bareMinerals Liner Shadow - Downtown 
Description:  Shimmery medium taupe
 bareMinerals Glimmer - Drama* 
Description:  Cool-toned shimmery taupe with a slight purple undertone
How I wear it:  Great all-over-the-lid color or looks great blended in the outer corner and slightly into the crease with a lighter color on the lid such as Nude Beach or Grace.
 bareMinerals Glimmer - Queen Tiffany* 
Description:  Medium shimmery bronze
How I wear it: One of my all-time favorite colors and looks great with Queen Phyllis or Bare Skin!
 bareMinerals Eyecolor - Restore 
Description:  Dark, shimmery cool-toned brown
 bareMinerals Liner Shadow - Retro 
Description:  Matte blackest brown
 bareMinerals Liner Shadow - Root 
Description:  Medium khaki with subtle silver sparkle
 bareMinerals Liner Shadow - Smoky Diamond 
Description:  Dark, cool-toned brown with silver sparkle and purple undertones
 bareMinerals Liner Shadow - Smoky Quartz 
Description:  Matte, dark charcoal brown
 bareMinerals Eyecolor - Snazzy* 
Description:  Medium mauve brown with a pearl finish
How I wear it: Even though this isn't completely matte, I love this blended in the crease with Humor all over the lid.
 bareMinerals Liner Shadow - Tiger's Eye* 
Description:  Dark brown with a hint of silver sparkle
How I wear it: Wet or dry, this is another great liner shade alternative to black. There is a slight sparkle but that really doesn't show much when worn as a liner.
 bareMinerals Eyecolor - Twig* 
Description: Dark, shimmery, minky brown 
How I wear it: Really beautiful paired with peach and pink shades like Finesse and Heart.
 bareMinerals Eyeshadow - Wearable Chestnut Dark 
Description:  Dark matte rusty brown
 bareMinerals Eyeshadow - Wearable Pecan Medium* 
Description:  Matte medium terra-cotta
How I wear it: Honestly, I didn't wear this shade at all for the longest time.  Then suddenly, I tried using it lightly blended in the crease to warm up cool-tone eye looks and I fell in love!
bareMinerals Eyeshadow - You Can Never Be Too Rich Brown
Description:  Matte, wine/plum brown
How I wear it:  Blend into the outer "V" and pair with a shimmery peachy-pink shade on the lid like Finesse or Heart.

Since there are many similar colors, I also did a side-by-side color comparison to show the slight variations between the shades

Light to Medium Browns
 Medium to Dark Browns

 If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 in this series, click on the links below to view them:
 bareMinerals Eyeshadows - Light/Neutrals (includes full review of bareMinerals loose shadows)
bareMinerals Eyeshadows - Grays/Blues

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

A few weeks ago, I was checking out the seasonal baking display at Walmart and I saw this....
Being that I LOVE pumpkin desserts, I decided this must come home with me!  I thought originally that I might whip up some pumpkin cupcakes with this mix.  But then I got a hankerin' for cookies so I decided to make pumpkin cookies instead.

Of course, I then remembered that I'd also purchased some Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese (Philadelphia makes this Limited Edition in the fall) so I decided to make Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese frosting for the top of the cookies.  But then I got to thinking how nice it would be to have a little "crunch" on the top of these soft cookies....so I added some Pumpkin Spice to coarse sugar and rolled the cookies in this mixture before baking.  The result?  To quote my husband, "They're cookies to die for!"

So, the next time you're at Walmart, pick up a box of Pumpkin Cake Mix and whip up a batch of these cookies.  If you can't find the pumpkin spice cream cheese, you could use regular cream cheese in your frosting or leave off the frosting altogether.  I think the cookies would still be very tasty!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
1-box Pumpkin Premium Cake Mix
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 - 1/2 cup coarse sugar (regular sugar works too but won't be as "crunchy")
1 - 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 oz. Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
1 cup powdered sugar

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*In a medium sized bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir until well blended and dough forms.
*Then, in a small bowl, stir together coarse sugar and pumpkin pie spice.
*Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in pumpkin spice-sugar mixture.
*Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 6-8 minutes or until you see cracks appear on top of cookies.
*Remove from cookie sheet and cool.
*Mix together cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Once cookies have cooled, frost the tops and store in the refrigerator.
Yield:  About 3 dozen cookies

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Makeup Look of the Week - Dramatic Emerald Smoky Eye

While a colorful, smoky eye isn't exactly appropriate for everyday, sometimes I just get in the mood for something dramatic and go "hog-wild" with color :-).  One of the palettes I love to use when I'm in these moods is the Smoked Palette by Urban Decay.

Dramatic Emerald Smoky Eye
This makeup combo, inspired by MakeupbyTiffanyD, would be great for a Christmas party and look especially stunning on those with brown eyes!

Products Used:
 Urban Decay's Smoked Palette Eyeshadows - Kinky, Freestyle, Blackout, Barlust and Loaded

 Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 hr Eyeshadow - 50 Edgy Emerald
bareMinerals Eyeshadow - Queen Phyllis

How to get this look:
*Apply primer all over lid up to brow brone
*Optional: Apply a green-based cream shadow such as Maybelline's Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in Edgy Emerald all over the lid up to the crease
*Apply Kinky shadow as brow highlight
*Apply Freestyle shadow in the crease and blend
*Press Loaded shadow all over the lid, on top of the green-based cream shadow
*Apply Blackout to the outer 1/3 of the lid
*Apply Barlust lightly to the crease and blend. Be careful not to bring this shade up too far!
*Go back and use Freestyle to blend out any harsh edges above the Barlust
*Go back and apply a little more Loaded shadow to the center of the lid
*Apply bareMinerals Queen Phyllis shadow to the inner tear duct and blend slightly into Loaded
*Working from the outside in, apply Urban Decay shadows in Blackout and Loaded along the bottom lash line.
*Apply a thin line of your favorite black gel eye liner along top lashes
*Optional:  Apply black or dark brown eye liner to lower waterline

Since this look is so dramatic, I used a neutral blush (bareMinerals Applause) and lipgloss (Lorac Trendsetter) to complete the look.