Catch Up

It happens every time. Just when I think I’m done blogging, I find myself logging back in and wanting to brain dump. So, here I am. It’s been a long time, and a lot’s going on. I miss the outlet.

My husband got a new job a few months ago. It’s an hour to an hour and a half drive away from where we live, so naturally, we’re (slowly) escalating the amount of work we’re doing to our house, because that kind of commute twice a day, every day, is just ridiculous. There have been sporadic internet real estate searches so we can start getting a feel for what’s out there, and now that I have a few favorites saved I’m impatient to be out of this house and move on to the next chapter. It’s slow going, though, because trying to accomplish any kind of home improvement as you’re paying down debt – while not accruing more debt – is a challenge. So we’re working on the free and/or cheaper projects for now. Popcorn ceiling removal (yep, still) is what we’ve been working on lately. I completed the popcorn removal in the master bedroom, closet, and bathroom in 2014, and in the past few weeks, we’ve removed popcorn in our upstairs hallway, our half bathroom, about two thirds of the kitchen, and most of our entryway. We’ve still got to finish up the kitchen, a bit over the stairs, probably the rest of our upstairs closets, our laundry room, and the living room. All of the downstairs has popcorn ceilings as well, but I’m seriously considering just installing white planks over top of it, because I am SO tired of the dust and mess. I hate to do that, though; it feels like a crime on the level of painting over wallpaper, or covering one wallpaper with a different wallpaper instead of removing it all and starting over AS ONE SHOULD. We’ll see how I feel once I get the upstairs done. Maybe we won’t touch the downstairs ceilings at all.

Anyway, so once we finish up the popcorn removal, we’ll be doing lots and lots of painting, ceilings first.

In the midst of the mess, my husband has suggested that we go back to eating paleo and improving our health. While I can’t disagree that we need to do that, I feel like going paleo before is kind of what killed any enjoyment of cooking that I had because there was SO. MUCH. COOKING. And the sink and dishwasher were ALWAYS. FULL. OF DISHES. But, he’s right, better off healthier; I might be more energetic, for starters. So we have been slowly easing back into clean eating. I am committed to going paleo, but also finding ways to make it easier so I’m not spending all of my time in the kitchen. I’ve picked up a few more paleo cookbooks – particularly the ones that promise “quick and easy” or “one pot,” and have well over a year’s worth of recipes saved on Pinterest, and I’ve started following more paleo blogs to help me find new things I can try, as well. With all of the mess from the popcorn removal, cooking has been a challenge, so we’re not 100% there yet, but we’re getting better.

2015 was just not my favorite year. January started off with a hell of a bang last year and it seems like we’ve spent this long recovering from it. I think that’s part of the reason I stopped blogging last year; so many stories but they weren’t all mine to tell, so we just focused on getting through it. Now we’re happier, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train anymore, and it feels good. Seeing your family happy is about all you can ask for, sometimes.

Shifting Gears

I came up with this recipe for really basic meat chili when my husband kept asking me to put the canned stuff on my grocery list. I’m no chef but I thought I could do a little better, and after a few experiments came up with this. My husband really likes it and if I make any modifications he knows it. It smells really good and we always get comments when we take this in and warm it up for lunch at work.

Super Basic 3 Meat Chili

Makes approximately 5 2 cup servings.

1lb each ground beef, pork and turkey, all as lean as possible. (There’s no reason you can’t do all ground beef if that’s what you want.)
3 tsp unseasoned meat tenderizer
1/4c minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 8oz cans No Salt Added Tomato Sauce
1 10oz can Enchilada Sauce, spice level of choice
About 1-2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
About 1 tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp black pepper
2 dashes Cayenne pepper
2-3 tsp cumin
2-3 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp. Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning

Crumble the meats into a large pot and sprinkle the meat tenderizer evenly over the meats, mix, then add onion and garlic. Brown over med-high heat, drain if needed or just let excess moisture cook out. Add all of the rest of the ingredients. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.

I usually double this recipe so there will be plenty of leftovers to freeze for several work lunches or dinner for those nights when cooking just isn’t going to happen.

There’s no reason why you couldn’t add a can of chili beans with sauce, or drain and rinse a can of black beans and add those in, I leave beans out per my husband’s request. You could just use this recipe as a base and add in whatever else you want. This recipe is fairly thick, so if you’re adding more stuff be prepared to add more sauce. The amount listed in the seasonings is a guideline, I never use those exact measurements but stay pretty close.

“Let me tell you somethin’ about my fam-i-ly…”

fairypreviewEvery month at work we have a potluck with a different theme. Sometimes it’s related to whatever is going on in the month, sometimes it has nothing to do with anything except whatever sounds fun. We started having the potlucks in October last year; Halloween was nice enough to land on a Friday, and that was a fun day. I’d dressed up as a fairy in a costume I’d been pulling together for years (a very small preview of which is shown in the photo…my poor, dusty hat) but had never had an opportunity to wear. My GOD do I love playing dress up! I fully embrace my inner five year old. Since then, we’ve usually added a costume or color theme to our potlucks every month. The last costume themed potluck was for June, “Hurray for Hollywood!” Dress up as a movie character and bring a dish inspired by that movie. I took meat pies and was going to dress up as Sweeney Todd‘s Mrs. Lovett; alas, I couldn’t get my costume together in time so had to dress in normal clothes. 🙁 Maybe for Halloween this year? Other ideas I had were dressing up as Batman‘s Poison Ivy (conservatively, this is a corporate environment, after all) and bringing a salad, or to dress as Legally Blonde‘s Elle Woods and bring something pink, like cupcakes. It was a great theme but maybe a bit too much work, because we didn’t have a lot of participation in that one.

July’s potluck is a bit simpler – Red, White, and Blue BBQ themed potluck, interpreted as one wishes. Bring red, white, and blue food, or bring something you’d take to a barbeque. I can usually be counted on to bring some kind of meat in some kind of sauce in my crockpot, I think this month will be the same. Today, a coworker let me know that she’d already thought of a potluck theme for August – Italian Mafia. Bring Italian food and dress up like a mobster! Mmmmm, meatballs. I’m getting an early start on this, I already have my outfit, hair, and makeup planned out, I just need to start pulling it all together so I’m ready in time. This potluck will be just the excuse I needed to finally get myself a fedora, and I’m even working on an accent! How accurate would it be to imitate Caroline from the Real Housewives of New Jersey, do ya think?


Basil Lime Chicken and Long Grain & Wild Rice


Yep, I set that plate out on my patio rail so I could take a photo in natural light because I hear indoor flash photography does not create an appetizing food photo. But what do I know, I used my phone to take this picture.

Recipe from GOODEness Gracious


  • 3 Limes (juice and zest) Divided
  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 T Dijon Mustard
  • 3 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 T Soy Sauce
  • 6 Green Onions Chopped Divided
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Minced Divided
  • 2 T Chopped Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 lbs Chicken Breasts


  1. Combine the zest and juice of 2 limes, Olive Oil, Mustard, Worcestershire, Soy, 3 onions, 2 garlic cloves salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Cut chicken into even cutlets and place in a gallon sized baggie.
  3. Pour marinade over the chicken and marinate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat grill.
  5. Place chicken on grill and grill for 7 minutes.
  6. Then flip and cook until internal temp reaches 170.
  7. Remove from grill and let meat rest.
  8. Meanwhile combine juice and zest of one lime with extra virgin olive oil, 3 chopped onions, 2 minced garlic cloves, basil.
  9. Slice chicken into bite-sized pieces and pour sauce over top.

Here’s what I did this time: I followed this recipe fairly closely. I used thinly sliced chicken breasts, and put them in the first marinade before I went to work this morning. Stifle your gag reflex, that first marinade is going to bear an unfortunate resemblance to dog vomit. So the chicken marinated all day instead of just an hour. I also didn’t get to use the lime zest because my zester doesn’t zest. I don’t know what it THINKS it’s doing, but it doesn’t do its job. And the grocery store was out of fresh basil so I resorted to that basil paste in a tube thingamy. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t taste like fresh basil. I served this with Long Grain & Wild Rice and what was supposed to be steamed broccoli and cauliflower, but someone got all stingy with the broccoli, Bird’s Eye!

What’s the verdict? Husband loved it, flat out. He mixed his chicken with the rice instead of leaving it on top and thought it was great that way. “Yum, yum,” he says. I had a bit more trepidation going in. I apologize in advance for how many times you’ll read the following phrase on this site, but I’m not a fan of Dijon mustard. Yep, I’m the one who found the recipe. Yep, I’m the one who wrote down the recipe, made the grocery list, grocery shopped, and prepared the marinade before I went to work this morning. So it shouldn’t have hit me as hard as it did when I was removing the chicken from the marinade this evening that “OMG, there’s Dijon mustard in this recipe. Am I going to like this?”


This recipe needs the Dijon mustard.

Maybe just not three tablespoons of it. I feel like the Dijon kind of tried to hog the glory in this one. I expected more basil and lime flavor but those flavors were a bit overpowered by the Dijon.

Notes for next time: Try cutting the Dijon down to two tablespoons, and maybe add the juice of a third lime as well as some chopped basil into the first marinade. Also, once you chop up the chicken and add it into the second marinade, the meat is cooled by the cold basil and lime juice, so try throwing this onto a salad of mixed greens.