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!