Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Easy Cooking: Chicken Chili

One of the best things about fall weather it that it means it's time for soups, stews, and the whatnot. I love that they are so easy to prepare (at least the ones I choose to make!) and you end up with a big pot that lasts you awhile.  I seriously live on soup throughout the colder months, and this easy chicken chili is one of my favorites.

Of course I like anything that is easy to whip together, because in all honesty while I do enjoy cooking, I just don't have that much time to spend doing it.  This chicken chili is seriously easy, and it can be done in stages which helps too.  Sometimes I'll prepare the chicken the night before, cutting down the actual time it takes to make the chili.

You don't need much for this chicken chili.  Just some shredded chicken, whatever your heart desires.  I just use one package, so whatever that means to you.  Not a family sized package of chicken, just a regular one.  Sometimes I use chicken breasts, lately I've been using chicken thighs.  Yes they are a little higher in fat, but in my opinion they have much more flavor and taste.  A can of corn, a couple of cans of beans, again whatever your heart desires, it can be all the same kind of bean or you can mix it up.  I tend to go with what I have, so this time I included some northern white beans, some pinto beans, and some black beans.  And last, but certainly not least, some chili seasoning.

I am in love with this chili seasoning.  Sounds silly to say, but I seriously am.  I found it at my grocery store last year, and if they ever discontinue it, at least I know now that it can be found online!  It's Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit, and it's amazing for a few reasons.  The first two are that it's all natural, it's just the seasonings, no extra filler stuff, and it's gluten free which fits in my current diet. In addition, the seasonings come in 4 little packets.  One contains all of the chili seasonings, one has the salt, one has the cayenne pepper, and one has masa flour.  So it's kinda like choose your own chili adventure, you can decide how salty, how spicy, and you can use the masa flour if you want to thicken it up.  It was definitely one of those lucky finds!

I start with preparing the chicken.  I just use my easy shredded chicken. Then I put it in my big pot on low heat and mix in the chili seasoning, the salt, the cayenne pepper, and 16 oz. of water.  I use all of the salt, and about 3/4 of the cayenne packet, but again, you can customize it to your tastes.  Then I just open all my cans of corn and beans, and drain them (just by pressing the lid in and holding them over the sink, I'm not too serious about it, again the key is easy) and throw them all in my big pot.  I mix everything together, and at this point I stir in the masa flour (mixed with 1/3 cup water) because I like my chili a little thicket, and then I let it all simmer for about 10ish minutes.

And voila, it's done!  Easy as that. Now you have yourself some great chicken chili, you can eat it as is.  Or add any toppings of your choice, I usually like to throw on a little shredded cheese, but you could also add onions, sour cream, avocado, and the what not.

Do you have a favorite fall soup?  Please share!

Linking up with 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Holding Onto Summer

Yesterday was an unbelievably gorgeous day, it hit the upper 80's and it just felt perfect.  Not crazy hot like the upper 80's in August would feel, literally just perfect.  In fact we've had fabulous weather for pretty much the last week straight, and yesterday was probably the last perfectly nice day we'll have, at least for a while yet.  Not that I'm complaining about it dipping down, it will be nice to break out some warmer fashion choices.  But while summer was still lingering around as we're transitioning into fall it was nice to get to mix and match pieces from the different seasons together.

White denim always reminds me of summer, but I am finding ways to incorporate it into other seasons.  Here I paired it with a newer find from Nordstrom Rack, this gray Pleione faux wrap top.  I love the Pleione tops and always keep my eyes open for them anytime I make a trip to the Rack.  I already have plenty in my closet.  Since it had been so warm I was able to pair this outfit with my sandals I picked up early in the summer.  I love the details on these, and even though I scored them at Marshalls, they are still available online.

Since I have been so into the neutrals lately it's easy to add a little punch of color with a handbag.  This teal color is a perfect transition into fall.  Check out some of my teal handbag finds below.  The things I love about this color is not only is it a great transition into fall, it also works great again as we transition into spring.

Top| Pleione, Nordstrom Rack (Same Style)
Jeans| Joe's Jeans, Nordstrom Rack (Similar)
Shoes| Jessica Simpson, Marshalls (Same)
Clutch| Steve Madden, Marshalls (Similar)
Earrings| Kate Spade, Nordstrom Rack (Same)

Click on each image for more details.

What color do you have your eye on this fall?

Friday, September 26, 2014

High Five for Friday

We have had another absolutely perfect fall week and I simply can not complain.  I also had a three day weekend last week and those are just the best things ever.  I would be one happy lady if every weekend was a three day weekend.  Three days allows me to do everything that I want.  I can get my life back in order, do some house keeping, catch up on sleep, and still have time left over to do something fun, best of everything!

Here's a look back at some things I enjoyed this last week.

1|  Saturday morning Martin and I went out to breakfast.  It's one of those things I love to do, but never do often enough.  When I used to live in the city I used to go out to breakfast every Saturday morning at this great little place that was walking distance from my apartment, The Sunrise Cafe, I loved it.

2|  After breakfast we took a drive out to Kuiper's Family Farm, the intention was to do some apple picking, but the weather was looking a little iffy, so instead we browsed there huge store and went home with a bag of Honey Crips and a pack of fresh caramel apples, they were both so good!

3| I changed the wallpaper on my phone to this image and it makes me truly happy every time I see it, I just can't help it, I love love love fall!

4|  This week at the grocery store I came across orange cauliflower.  I had heard of it before, but hadn't run into in at the store yet.  All I did was brush on some olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some garlic and roasted it at 400F for about 40 minutes.  It turned out quite good, and I have to say I think it's more flavorful than white cauliflower.

5|  I got a post up every day this week, that in and of itself deserves a high five I think!  See what I am saying about three day weekends, time people, it's the time, it's amazing when you have it!

Hopefully you have a great fall weekend where ever you are, till next week!

Linking up With
 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png

Thursday, September 25, 2014

10 Minute Easy Upgrade

Our master bedroom has long since been one of the most neglected rooms in our house.  Even our guest bedroom has received more love than our master.  My goal is to start to focus attention on it, starting with an easy upgrade I made to our Ikea dresser with some of these beauties.

Let's take a look at what we were starting with, nothing too fancy, just your basic Ikea Hemnes Dresser.  I bought this when we first moved into the house, and it has been in the exact same place, looking the exact same way for the entire time.

If you pan out a little bit, the view doesn't get any better.  You can see the slant of our ceilings due to our Cape Cod style home, which greatly limits our furniture choices.  If you can't tell it's that line running through the top of the picture behind the lamp, that horribly uneven line which drives me crazy.

I knew that changing out the knobs would provide an easy and quick update to this basic looking dresser.  I had been on the search for awhile, not knowing exactly what I was looking for.  It's always one of those things where I'll know it when I see it.

One of my favorite places to look for knobs is Hobby Lobby.  I've noticed that even lately there selection is growing even more, and more often than not you can find them for 50% off.  In fact, I don't buy them unless they are 50% off, because if they are not on sale when you are there, they most likely will be the week after.

Since I was in the market for 12 knobs for my Ikea dresser I wasn't looking for anything too fancy, aka too expensive.  When I came across these glass beauties I knew they fit the bill at $4.99 a piece and with 50% off I ended up paying just $2.49 for each one, making this upgrade ring in at just under $30.

All I needed was a screwdriver and about 10 minutes and I easily had all of the knobs switched out.  I love updates that are this quick and simple.  The impact from far away is subtle, but I love that the look of the glass, it makes it just a little fancier.

I feel like the impact in person is a lot greater than in the photo above.  Probably because the shape is so similar to what we started with, when photographed from a distance it's going to look pretty similar.

But then you get up close and you can see all the beauty that the glass brings.  I love that no two knobs are exactly the same, they all have little subtleties to their color, and the light hits them all slightly different.  I also love the little brass piece that attaches them to the dresser.  Now we have wood, metal, and glass all mixing together, I love the different textures.

It's exactly what I am going for in our master.  Not a ton of color, in fact our color palette right now is mostly neutrals, and I plan to keep it that way.  But I hope to keep it interesting with a bunch of different textures.

I love how it reflects in my new favorite Home Goods find, this beautiful full length mirror that I just can't get enough off.  Well, almost.  I fell in love with this mirror in the store, and I thought I did the mirror check and it was ok.  You know, is this a fat mirror check, because we all love a skinny mirror, right?!  Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.  Maybe this comes from my years of dancing and spending way too much time seeing myself in mirrors, but we always knew which mirrors were the "fat" mirrors and which mirrors were the "skinny" mirrors .  Anyways  in the store I thought "This mirror is great, it's a skinny mirror", and I don't know if it's how its hung or what, but one I got this mirror home it so became a fat mirror!  But that doesn't change how beautiful I think it is every time I look at it!

Now it's onto the rest of the room.  I'm sure it won't happen quickly, but at this point something is better than nothing because it has spent way too long being neglected!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Random Things About Me

Today's post is full of random things about me.  It's also an ode to my current motto, "Better late than never". This post is a shout out to two great bloggers.   Leslie @ The Martin Manifest for passing along the Sunshine Award to me, and Nadia @ The View is Beautiful for passing along the Liebster Award.  If you haven't heard of either of these two awards before, the premise is the same.  You share 11 random facts about yourself, you answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you, you nominate 11 new bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

I originally accepted the Liebster award back in the Spring (you can check out my answers here), and didn't think it fair to technically participate again, but I still wanted to be apart of what these great bloggers had passed along to me in my own way, and since they came up with great questions, today is filled with more random information then you probably ever wanted to know about yours truly.

The Facts
1.  I have owned my house for 6 years, that is the longest I have lived anywhere since I left for college at the age of 18.
2.  I have had pet cats all of my life, dogs for part of it, and I can't wait to have a dog of my own someday.

3.  Some people eat to live, I live to eat.  I seriously love food.
4.  Speaking of my love for food, there has been nothing more dangerous then all these frozen yogurt places popping up everywhere.  I make weekly visits, I'm not going to lie.
5.  On most days it looks like a tornado went through my house, no joke.

6.  I feel the most happy and content when I am on my own timeline, not someone else.
7.  I took 6 years of French and can barely mutter a full sentence.
8.  I have a love/hate relationship with running.  I know it's good for me, and I love being outdoors, but I'm generally cursing every minute of it until it's over.  It's just not easy for me.

9.  I follow the rules, pretty much always (you can ask my husband).
10.  I got my ears pierced when I was 7, and I remember negotiating with my mom for it when I was in the bathtub.
11.  I love strolling through antique stores, I just think the stuff from back then is so much cooler than the stuff that they make now days.

Leslie's Questions
1.  What's the biggest lesson you've learned from blogging?
I still feel like I have so much to learn, and that I can't have possibly been doing this for long enough.  I always feel like I don't spend enough time figuring out what I am "supposed" to be doing, so I guess that would be the biggest lesson, there isn't necessarily a "supposed" to, it's what's right for you and your intentions behind your blog.

2.  What year {age} of your life thus far has been your favorite?  Why?
I'm going to go with 20, I was a senior in college, with life ahead of me.  It was the first time in my life I didn't have school in my foreseeable future, and though I wasn't sure of what lay ahead, I felt confident in the moment.  I had a grown up apartment, and I finally felt like I was starting life as an adult.

3.  Where is the best place you've ever traveled for vacation?
So far my favorite has been San Fransisco.  It was one of the stops on our honeymoon and I absolutely loved the city and would go back in a heartbeat.

4.  What is your favorite iPhone/Android app?
Pinterest, it's how I unwind and shut my brain off every night.

5.  What is your favorite online boutique?
I can't say that I have one.  I do a lot of browsing, but then I feel like I do all my online ordering from stores I know that I can return to in person.  What are your favorites?  Point me in the right direction!

6.  If you could live the life of any TV character, who would it be?
As I thought about this every character from any of the shows I watch has had something terrible happen to them.  My first instinct would be one of the characters from Mad Men because I love that era, though which character, I'm not sure because they all have their little quirks.

7.  What was your first job?
Technically I suppose it would be babysitter, that's the first thing I did where I earned money.  My first official job was being a life guard at our school pool.

8.  What skill would you like to learn?
I would love to learn how to play tennis.

9.  What is your biggest pet peeve?
Manners, and many people's general lack of them.

10.  Who is the most influential person in your life?
I can't say I have had one most influential person throughout, I feel like it is always changing, depending on what I need at that time in my life. 

11.  If you had $1,000 you could only spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Not that much, because I like nice things!  At this given moment I would probably pamper myself with a spa day, because I've never had the luxury of having an entire spa day.  And then with what was left I would update my fall wardrobe, boots and jackets, and of course the perfect cognac bag that I am still on the hunt for!

Nadia's Questions
1.  Are you a texter or a caller?
Neither really.  I'm not a big phone person period.  But if I need to get a hold of you, most likely I'll send a text.

2.  How long have you known your closest friend?
About 8 years. 

3.  What is one product that you recommend to everyone?
Right now it's anything by The Honest Company.  I've been loving everything I order from them, and I love the principal and philosophy behind it.

4.  Are you an online or in store shopper?
Definitely in store.  I love being able to browse, and touch, and feel and try things on.  For me it's all about the fit, which can be so much harder online, especially if it's a new brand or store.

5.  What is your most worn item of clothing?
My Limited exact stretch pants, they have been my go to work pants for the last several years.  The last few months I've been wearing the heck out of my skinnies, love them.

6.  What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas, because to me it isn't just a holiday, it's a season, and I love that.  The decorations, and music, and cookies, and the fact that people are generally in a better spirit.

7.  What is one material possession you couldn't live without?
I think this is the first time I could answer this question with; I think I could honestly live without everything if I had to.

8.  What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Completing and graduating college in 3 years, and standing on my own two feet since then!

9.  Are you a hot or cold beverage person?
Hot, but really that just happened this year.  Previously I always changed with the seasons, but apparently not anymore.

10.  What color do you think suits you best?
Right now I'm loving orchid, it's a great color that goes well in any season and in most any situation.

11.  What has been your biggest learning experience since starting your blog?
See the answer to Leslie's Question #1.

If you made it to the end, congratulations!  Hope you enjoyed learning a little (ok a lot) of random things about me, thanks for sticking around!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Seasonal Elegance: Fall Mantel

I long for a nice big fireplace with a huge mantel to decorate with the changing of the seasons.  Right now, I don't even have a fireplace, and I have a make shift mantel.  Technically it's a shelf, on a wall, above my TV, but I call it my mantel, and I change it with the seasons.  Well some of the seasons, I've made three of the four, summer got a little bypassed.

Last week I shared my fall mantel inspiration.  I was drawn to the natural tones and white pumpkins.  I wanted to use what I already had as much as possible, but I needed to add some white pumpkins into the mix.  Who knew white pumpkins were so hard to come by?  Now, I know I could have just picked up some pumpkins of any color and painted them myself, but I didn't want them to be stark white.  I like the ones that look like they have some dimension and shadow to them, and if I was going to DIY that, that would take me forever.  I searched JoAnn's, Michael's, Hobby Lobby and was able to scrounge up a few white pumpkins.

I picked up the grapevine wreath at Michael's and used a 40% off coupon to get it for about $2.50, while I was there I also picked up 2 white pumpkins, you can see one of them on the far left above.  The window pane mirror is a DIY I did back in the spring, check out the tutorial here.

If you take a step back you can see what I was talking about, with my self, on the wall, above my TV.  In my opinion the close ups are much prettier.

Most of the decorative items I used in my fall mantel have come from previous after Christmas sales.  The round mercury glass containers were a Target score, while the mercury glass candle stick came from Crate & Barrel.

The large glass candlesticks I found at Z Gallerie, again I remember picking them up at an after Christmas sale.  It's amazing how many things you can find at an after Christmas sale that can be used for decor any time of the year, these candle holders are all in heavy rotation.  Now I know to keep my eyes open for white pumpkins, for they are not easy to come by.  And I have a feeling I won't be spotting any of those at an after Christmas sale.  If anyone knows the secret of where to come by small faux white pumpkins, please spill, because next year I would love to have an entire mantel lined with them.

This has to be one of the hardest rooms in my house to photograph because it hardly gets any natural light, I had everything open trying to capture these photos, including the front door.

Which the cats thoroughly enjoyed, and it reminded me to get a little fall up on my front door.

Hopefully fall will make it to a few other places in my house before it's time to break out the Christmas decorations!  I have till Thanksgiving, right?!

Have you decorated for fall?

Monday, September 22, 2014

What I Wore: Olive & Gray

I am in love with my new gray denim skinny jeans.  I shared a few ways I'd style them when I first added them to my closet, and I have since worn them every weekend, I won't lie!  They are so comfortable and just perfect for this fall weather.

This Saturday Martin and I went to see Jo Koy at our local comedy club.  I always loved him when he was on Chelsea Lately, and was excited to go see him.  He definitely did not disappoint, and we had a great time.  Here's how I styled my new favorite gray denim for our date night.

This shirt is a last year Nordstrom Rack find, and I just love the detail on it.  I had a hard time finding any similar detail, but I did round up some olive alternatives.  I found the shoes at the Bloomingdale's Outlet last fall, and they are still available online for pretty much the same price I paid for them.  They are a comfy pair of flats, which in my book can be hard to find, and I just love the tarnished gold color.

Shirt| Pleione (Options below)
Jeans| Old Navy
Shoes| BCBG