Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken Taco Chili - Crockpot Dinner

If you've been online lately, then you've probably noticed that "crockpot cooking" is all the rage!!!

And no wonder!  I'm amazed at what you can do with a crockpot!  

For instance, I've made "Chicken Taco Chili" a couple of times now.  It is quickly becoming one of our favorite meals - healthy, nutritious, and oh-so-simple to dump in the crockpot and come home to a hot & ready meal.

Here's all you need......

1 onion, chopped 
1 16-oz. can black beans (do not drain)
1 16-oz. can kidney beans (do not drain)
10 oz. package of frozen corn kernels (we love the super sweet variety!)
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 packet taco seasoning (use the reduced salt variety for healthier results)
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
24 oz. (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts (stock up when these are on sale!!!) 
chili peppers, chopped (optional) 
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in the crock pot.  Stir to combine well.  Place chicken on top and cover.  Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.  Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.  Return chicken to the crock pot and stir well, cooking for the last half hour.  Top with fresh chopped cilantro, if desired. 

Now, here's how we dress it up at our house ~ crumble a few tortilla chips on top.......

Top with a dollop of low-fat sour cream.....

And who can resist a little grated cheese on top???  Obviously, I can't!!!

This super-simple recipe is sure to become one of your family's favorites!  It makes a lot of food and the leftovers reheat easily and are even better after a day or two.  So, when you're looking for some comfort food inspiration on these dreary winter days, give this one a try!

**And just a quick note here ~ I've even thrown my chicken breasts in on top, still frozen....and it still turned out perfectly!**

Bon appetit, y'all!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Application of The Word

 Big words that point to God and His power.  
Words I want desperately to live by.... 

Worry. Fear.  
There are days when it just seems so hard to let go of these two words....
Words that point right back at me and my weakness.  

Having begun my own business just over a year ago, the income still isn't steady.  It fluctuates much with the seasons and the housing market.  For the year prior to that, the first year after our relocation, I had zero income coming in.  So, we are still struggling to pull up out of that hole.

At moments, concern over where the money will come from overwhelms me.  Every time I sit down to update the checkbook and pay bills, I break into a clammy sweat.  Each time I spend money on something that isn't a necessity, trepidation and guilt worm their way into my mind.

There are times when I feel compulsively drawn to The Word for reassurance.... and It never fails me.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." ~ Philippians 4:6

"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory 
in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:19

The book of Philippians has much to say about worrying over material matters.  To sum it all up - DON'T DO IT!!! 

God has provided for us this far.  Our job is to be good stewards of what we have been given, work hard, and trust in Him.  Additionally, we are told to give thanks and go to Him with needs. I don't see a thing in there about fretting leading to any gain....

Sounds so simple, but it is often very difficult to do.  It is a lesson to be learned over and over.  It requires deliberate action on my part.

Today, my determination to start living those first two words, faith and trust, has found new resolve.  When the fear and worry start creeping in, I need to just recite these scriptures - to myself or even out loud - and remember their significance.  After all, our determination must be fed so it does not wane.  And what better to feed determination than The Word of God? 

Life is chaotic enough without drowning in a sea of worry and fear when it is totally unnecessary and a waste of time and energy.  Choose Trust and Faith with me today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Getting It Done - One Shelf at a Time!

Remember how I said I sometimes have ambivalent feelings about greeting the morning?

Well, part of the reason I was dragging my feet that particular morning, blogging instead of getting busy, was this......

Before....I couldn't even get to the mixing bowls!

One of the corner cupboards in my kitchen was in pretty sad shape.  I knew, without doubt, that I needed to address it right away (after successfully putting it off all through the holiday baking season).  I was simply dreading it.

Once I got in there, though, it actually wasn't so bad.  I tossed quite a bit right into the trash can.  There was some baking stuff in there that had probably made the move from the Panhandle a couple of years ago.  Yuck!  Out it went!

I had to just work with what I had to organize things, though.  After getting it to this point, I was able to evaluate what I would need and create a shopping list for bins/containers.  So, it can continue to improve from this point, but it already looks a lot better.....
Ahhhhh....much better!
I have been browsing around in Pinterest, and getting inspired to do more organizing in the kitchen.  Of course, some of the photos I find are rather unrealistic as far as "pretty" storage ideas, given the fact our kitchen is limited on space and a man who cooks lives in this house.  But, there is definitely Inspiration to do a better job at putting the cupboards in order!

Next item on my agenda - the cabinet under the sink.  No, wait!  I need to get the plastic ware whipped into shape....or the silverware drawer cleaned out...somehow wrangle Eddie's overflowing spice area into some semblance of order!  The canned foods and dry goods in the "spinner" cabinet are also a priority.  And don't even get me started on everything that needs to happen in the bathroom closet.....

Still a long ways to go, but doing one little project at a time is going to be the key for me to accomplish this task!

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Daily Routine....

Do you ever have ambivalent feelings about getting up and around in the mornings???

I sure do!  I admit, quickly and frequently, that I am not a "morning person".  I love snuggling down under the covers and sleeping in.  I generally need a good half-hour to get rolling and even think about heading for the shower.  My routine requires a quick sip of iced Coke Zero to wet my whistle, followed by a generous cup of hot coffee laced with flavored creamer.  Taking the dogs out to do their business and dawdling on the patio for a few minutes with my caffeine in hand....checking e-mail and Facebook to see if I've missed anything important while sleeping....wandering about the house in a stupor for a bit.....all part of my daily routine. 

Most days, I have some sort of idea what the agenda will be.  I almost always work in my DayPlanner right before going to bed so I will be sure to have a general outline in place for the next day.  And I always feel the need to incorporate a lot of "dawdle time" to get going in the morning. 

For instance, today I know I need to get some housekeeping done.  Change out the bed linens, dust and vacuum, clean the bathroom.  I've been up for a couple of hours, but still haven't gotten dressed or started.  So, here is my big debate for the day.....

Do I go ahead and shower, put on makeup and decent clothes prior to cleaning??? 

Or, would it be better to just hang in my jammies and get everything around here done first???

I don't plan on leaving the house and being out in public, but should I maybe make myself more presentable - just in case??? 

Silly dilemma, isn't it?  Even calling it a "dilemma" seems a bit strange, now that I look at the words.  But, it's one that I have created in my mind.  I prefer working around here in a state of tousled disarray, but a part of me feels like I should have myself more "pulled together" than that.  Like, maybe I would be more productive if I did all that grooming before I set about my chores....

What do you do?  I have an odd admiration for people who just get up and get themselves groomed in the mornings before they embark on the day's activities, even when it's just around the house.  I wish I could be one of the those people....and some days, I actually am.....

But, this morning, the lazy jammie-clad girl inside is winning the battle! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Making Some Changes...

Well, as you can see, I have playing with redesigning things here at Janie's Porch a bit.  What do ya think???

What I really wanted to do this afternoon was rearrange furniture.  I don't know....maybe I have a touch of Spring Fever.  But, I had the strong urge to make some changes.  Given all the furniture I have in a small house, shifting things around is pretty tricky.  And, since Eddie is at work, I don't have anyone to help me!

So, I settled for making some changes here on the ol' blog.  I think I will live with it for a few days to see if I need to do any more tweaking.....

Now, off to make a run to the grocery store so the pups can eat supper!

Give me some feedback, y'all!!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Settling on One Little Word.....

Howdy, y'all!!!  Hear that good ol' West Texas twang in my voice?!?!?  If you can't, then you must be deaf!  (No offense to those who are deaf....maybe that was not very PC of me.....)

Having a lovely day here!  The weather is phenomenal - especially considering that it is mid-January.  The high soared above 80 today, with lots of beautiful sunshine.  I was outside in a 3/4-sleeve cardigan this morning at 10:00 and it felt terrific!

As the beautiful weather lifts my spirit, it also makes me antsy - eager to get out and get going on a project in the yard, or something like that.  I feel like I really need to be "working" on something other than "work".  (If that even makes any sense....)

So, I've done what I needed to get done for the job.....

And, now I'm allowing my mind to just contemplate.....this and that.....but, mostly I'm thinking on what I would like to accomplish this year.  Yep, still working on those "Goals for 2012".  I guess we're going to get halfway through the year before I get done with 'em.

 And, one word keeps coming to mind.....

You know, "Act" as in -
Get up and move (hopefully, in a forward direction!); 

Take action; 

Make it happen; 

"Just Do It!!!"

I can sit here and make plans and set goals all day long, every day.....but, if I don't take action, nothing is going to happen.  It all hinges upon me getting off my rear and just doing it already!  I can't "accomplish" (one of those other words I've been testing out the last couple of weeks), if I don't first "ACT".

So, I guess that is going to be my Word for 2012....for my spiritual walk, my relationships, my work, my health.  All areas of my Life require me to simply ACT to get the ball rolling.

I wish I could find a pretty, glittery graphic to illustrate my word....put it over there in my sidebar as a reminder.  Maybe I will at some point.  But, for now, it is enough that I have identified the word and grasped the necessity to imprint it upon my mind.

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing if the conscious decision to focus on a word for a year will help me to make changes for the better.

How 'bout you?  Are you claiming a word for 2012?  If so, I would love to hear about it. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

You Are a Family Affair!!!

I promised pictures....and I deliver!!!  Here are some photos from Bonnie's wedding.......

Trayden and Ansleigh walked in ahead of their Momma...

Bonnie makes her entrance - she fought hard not to cry
Bonnie and Matthew Powell
A new family is born.....

The only word for the look on Matt's face.....RELIEF!!!
The Bride and her attendants
Matt and his guys
Matt's sister made the beautiful cakes
I think she warned him what would happen if cake went on the face or the dress....

Eddie & I with the happy couple
So proud of this photo of my beautiful Family!!!
Bonnie planned and we put this wedding together in only a few short weeks.  She had a vision of what she wanted - family-oriented, simple affair with black, white and silver.  She and I did the flowers. Each of her attendants selected their own dresses.  Ansleigh and Trayden looked adorable.  Matt's niece was the Flower Girl and his nephews were ringbearers.  Bonnie's friend, Stacy, did all the photos.  Matt's sister, Ashley, made both cakes.  It was truly a Family Affair!

I want to send out a SPECIAL THANKS to our Friends who went the extra mile and helped with setting up and cleaning up - Kim, Jacqueline, Barbara and John and Bethany!  Ben and Sam, my sweet boys, helped their Sister on her special day with loving hearts - kudos to you, guys!  And, Rudy, you did an awesome ceremony and kept Matt calm. 

Matt and Bonnie, my heart is filled with love and best wishes for you as you begin this new chapter in your lives.  May you always find strength and joy in Christ who guides you - and each other!

Monday, January 16, 2012

It Is Finished - and Best Wishes!!!

Well, the wedding is over!!!  Bonnie and Matt said their "I Do's" on Saturday evening and it couldn't have been more beautiful or more special. 

I am waiting for copies of photos from the photographer.  I didn't even take our camera because we were so flustered by the time we got out the door.  But, in the back of my mind, I knew that the photographer was going to be snapping away - actually following Bonnie around all during the day as she prepared for the ceremony.  So, there will be lots and lots of photos to share before it's all said and done. 

Eddie and I prepared all the food for the reception following the ceremony at the church.  He smoked briskets and we made baked beans and potato salad to serve with those.  Let me tell you, the work is in the details!!!  So many things to remember.....salt and pepper shakers, flatware, napkins, serving tongs, even toothpicks!  I had list after list to help me remember everything.

Bonnie and I worked on her bridesmaids' bouquets together.  Then I made all the boutonierres and Bonnie's bouquet.  I spray-painted pinecones silver and bought bags of fake snow to make centerpieces.  We had yards and yards of black tulle and a multitude of tiny white votive candles.  And, somehow, we pulled it off!

It looked great!  Clean up was fast.  And Bonnie and Matt were pleased with how it all came together.  Can't ask for more than that!!!

After laying around and sleeping and being lazy yesterday, I have been digging out of the mess left behind in our house from wedding preparations.  It's slow going since I've had very little time to focus on cleaning and such the last couple of weeks.  But, I'm getting there.....trying to get reorganized with each step.  I have a feeling our trash dumpster will be full when the garbage truck comes tomorrow!

Stay tuned as I hope to have photos from the wedding up soon!

Looking forward to Life getting back to "normal".....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Finally - a New Roof!!!

We have been so fortunate to have some beautiful, warmer days here in the last week!!!  It almost makes one forget that this is January....

The warmer weather allowed the roofers to get over here and put our new roof on this week.  Yea!!!  We had an awful hail storm on Easter Sunday, damaging many roofs in town.  Waiting lists grew very long, particularly for the most-favored contractors.  And we waited many months for our contractor to get to our house! 

Let me tell you - it was quite an experience for the three dogs residing in our home.  The crew swarmed over the roof, beginning about 8:30, peeling off the old roof.  The noise level was incredible and the dogs were quite alarmed.  For 8 hours it continued....the noise and the barking!!!  The biggest challenge was getting the pups outside to go potty.  I finally resorted to putting them on a leash, one at a time, dragging them outside to do their business.  Imagine their terror at seeing men up on the roof and air compressor hoses dangling off the back patio!  They were simply beside themselves.....

But, it is finished and they did a Fine Job!  The new color shingles look fabulous.  Now, we are just itching to get started with painting.  Off to Lowes I go to pick up color chips!!! 

Enjoying the quiet and peace of mind now that we have that project behind us......

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Organizing Thoughts for a New Year....

2012... a new year!  The year is fresh, new, like a blank sheet of beautiful paper, just awaiting my thoughts and dreams to be penned in ink....

What will I make of it????

It's a lot to ponder.  And I have yet to devote enough time to organize my thoughts about my goals for the year, much less come up with a "word" for the year.....

(I wonder to myself.....does this make me a slacker in the blogosphere?  Truth be told, I know it probably just makes me "normal".....and I do have a couple of words in mind at this point.)

But, I am working on it.  Today, I have three items spread out on the desk before me - my DayPlanner, a spiral to record my goals (personal and business for the year), and a grocery list.  For the last little bit, I have been bouncing back and forth, writing down things as I think of them.  (Grocery list is winning at the moment!)  My brain is a jumble of thoughts and ideas, but I'm working on sorting them out and compartmentalizing them.  Writing things down helps me to see more clearly - I am truly a "list maker"!

As you move forward with the new year, how do you proceed?  How do you translate lists and goals into accomplishments?  How do you control your life without it controlling you????  (I figure that is the million-dollar question!)

Wishing you the best and blessings in 2012!!!

Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year&...