Balance



Top 5 Healthy Crock Pot Recipes for Busy Moms

Crock-Pot

Today on the Quiltcast, Amy and I talked about how we balance our mom jobs and our day jobs–and one of the tools we mentioned is our slow cooker! Both of us love to use our crock pot to get dinner done–in fact, mine is going upstairs right now (See below, Kathy’s White Bean and Chicken Chili). Using a crock-pot, of course, gives me a little more time for this:

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For me, it is important when I am feeding my family that the meal not only be fast and not too fussy, but that it be nutritious, real food too. And, as we discussed on the Quiltcast, I have a pretty bad time with MSG and preservatives, so that’s just another reason I don’t like to add canned soups, etc, to our meals.

Without further ado, these are 5 Crock Pot meals that I use on a regular basis in my home. Because we’re all busy, but we all want to be healthy. Throw one in your slow cooker tomorrow morning, and have dinner done before breakfast is over!

xoxo

April

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches:

These are so good! We get crusty rolls and broil some cheese and italian spices  on top before making our sandwiches. Yum! I use the recipe here to make my own Onion Soup Mix without bouillon or MSG.

Split Pea Soup:

This is a perfect comfort food, and a great way to use leftover ham. Even better, my kids love it! If you have fussy children who don’t like texture, you may want to leave the ham out until the veggies are all cooked, remove the bay leaf, and puree the soup in a high speed blender before adding the ham.

Harvest Ham and Root Veggies:

This is such a simple recipe, I can’t even find a link for it. Here goes: Use a 1 to 1 1/2 pound boneless ham, 6 carrots, and 3 medium sweet potatoes. Peel potatoes and carrots, and quarter or cut into bite size pieces. Place carrots and potatoes on the bottom of the crock pot. Place ham on top of vegetables. Pour 1 cup of pure maple syrup (not extract, and not waffle syrup) over ham and vegetables. Cover, cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. (Original recipe found in Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes.)

Kathy’s White Bean and Chicken Chili:

This is one of those “Throw it all in and forget about it” kind of crock pot meals. Just the kind I like. On the beans, I have usually done this with canned beans, but it’s so much more delicious with dried beans. See the link below if you haven’t ever used dried beans.

Place 3 chicken breasts, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of great northern beans, 2 cups of salsa, 1 cup of diced tomatoes, and 2 tsp of cumin in greased crock pot. Cook on low heat 6-9 hours. Break chicken into bite sized pieces with two forks before serving.

Black Beans (Side or Soup):

I confess, I really love me a meatless meal. The nice part about this recipe is that with a little tweak or two, you can change a pot of beans from a side into a soup. So, if you prefer some meat with your beans, use this as a side recipe. If, like me, you’d like to make these beans the star of the show, well, follow the soup recipe or use them as a topping for some rice. These recipes are both stovetop variety, but can easily be put in a crock pot as well for a few hours, and has the advantage of being a little faster than a large cut of meat that needs to cook all the way through. I use organic beef broth if I’m making the soup, and use dried beans, instead of canned beans. Here’s a great link on using dried beans.



Goals, and Becoming.

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I’ve been missing around here, enjoying the quiet and magic of the holidays, and the potential of a new year. I’ve really been thinking about my goals, and what I want to do, and where I want to go this year. It’s been a lot of thinking and a lot of decision making. I think it must be something us artist-types have to do on a regular basis (probably everyone else, too)–evaluating where our plans are taking us, and trying to evaluate and course correct before we get too far from where our hearts really want us to go.

11-Crocus Over the break, I jumped in and made a Scrappy Tripalong quilt (it’s all the rage on Instagram, just check out hashtag #scrappytripalong, and follow me: amrosenthal–or I’m posting my pictures on my Facebook Page, too)–and as I’ve been working on it, I realized it’s the first quilt I’ve made just for fun, because I want to. Every other quilt I’ve made over the last 10 years has been as a gift, for a deadline, to show a pattern, etc. It was a strange realization. Pair that with the fact that I’m having so much fun making it, and I think I’m on to something. Creativity flourishes when it’s set free. If you’d like to make one, the tutorial is here.

This year, I’m excited to learn more, slow down, develop my personal style, and really marinate and become the person I want to be–do the things I’ve always wanted to do. If not now, when? Each month, I’m setting 5 goals (a la Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project), each month building on the previous. It sounds like a tall order, but when each goal is truly a delight to work on, I think it will be blissful and restorative.

10-Blooming-Pearl I’ve also joined in on a few other things that will help me Become (my One Little Word) who I want to be. I joined in on Fifth and Hazel and Ollibird’s 365 Pattern challenge. I’m creating a repeating pattern every day this year to move me toward one of my goals: cultivating the skills necessary to design fabric. I’m making a schedule and committing to blogging more regularly. (I hope you don’t mind). I’m using Project Life to document these fleeting days, weeks, and months. I’m picking up my Farmer’s Wife blocks again (Posts about these blocks: 1, 2, 3, 4.) I’m decorating my newly remodeled studio–my shelving gets put in Tuesday, and then pictures! I’m eating better, exercising early, and taking my vitamins and supplements (if you’re curious, I’m in love with my doTerra supplements). I’m keeping my family healthy, and enjoying these last few months before my kids start kindergarten. I’m trying to get up the guts to start up the IVF process again. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a year of nurturing and growth, for sure.

9-Tumblers And in case you think I’m forgetting you, my sweet friends, I’m most definitely not. Many of my goals revolve around sharing tutorials, creating a community, and learning more about my friends. That absolutely means we’re going to have lots of fun this year. Together.

What do you think, friends? Have you done any reevaluating yourself lately? Any creative (or other) goals for the new year? I’d love to hear them. Maybe we can help each other along.

xoxo
April

PS First up? That Block of the Month I hinted about in September. I can’t wait to show you. Who’s in?
PPS My Home for Harvest pattern is being featured on the Fat Quarter Shop’s Jolly Jabber blog today–go suggest a fabric line you’d like to make it in, and you are entered to win a $50 gift card. Score!



What’s going on?

Fall is in full swing around here and I love love love it. October is easily my busiest month of the year, and this year has been no exception. With all the busy-ness, I wanted to pop in here and give a quick glimpse of what’s going on around here.

I’m sending out fabrics to my quilting bee ladies today (it’s my month! Yay!)

Sewing clothes for a dirty, well-loved monkey. Miss Lily picked out the fabric and the Christmas ribbon. :)

Admiring the leaves and taking long deep breaths of the (awesome) autumn air.

Watching the last soccer games of the season, and cheering on our favorite football teams.

Putting up my Halloween bunting (print yours here), decorations, and finishing up my table runner.

Getting my studio cleaned and put together.

Sewing, and sewing, and sewing for market, and getting my posts ready for the Blogger’s Bar Hop tomorrow and my turn on the Sweet Celebrations tour on Thursday (be sure to come back!) Schedules are here.

In the midst of all the things going on, I’m really trying to focus and be balanced. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the crazy and neglect that this time of year is my very favorite of all. We’re going to the little old man’s pumpkin stand tonight for Family Night to choose out Jack O’Lantern pumpkins, and we’re having Breakfast with a Witch on Thursday. I’m also trying to spend more time reading scriptures and having some quiet time for prayer and grounding before my day gets underway. Finally, a friend and I are getting up before the sun to exercise. I’ll be tired, but it’s time to get more movement into my schedule. If not now, when?

What’s going on with you? Is this your favorite time of year? Any suggestions (or encouragement) for my early morning exercise? (Trust me, I need it!)

xoxo

April



on quiet

The house was quiet this morning. So quiet, in fact, that the only sound I could hear was the humming of my sewing machine, and the soft brush of my fingers against the fabric as I finger pressed. Every now and then the dogs would sigh or snore, and after a while I turned on Pandora. Quietly.

I love quiet. Something about it makes me infinitely more able to concentrate, more creative, more grounded, and settled in my thoughts and dreams. Over the years, I’ve been in many places and situations where I was allowed the privilege of quiet–school, workplaces, and even my home before kids came. Now, quiet ebbs and flows. Sometimes I get more of it, and sometimes less–and it’s always obvious to me when I’ve had “less”–because that’s when I start feeling a little crazed, a little burned out, and a lot overwhelmed.

On the other hand, just a few hours can make a HUGE difference. For example, last week I was in that burned out place. You know the place I’m talking about, where everything is just a few degrees h  arder than you want it to be, where things that aren’t usually a big deal suddenly are, and in a big way. When you can’t muster up the energy to do anything but get by. Then, Monday morning happened. I had nearly 3 hours to myself, and a better breakfast in my system than I’m used to.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know what happened: 11 pieced quilt backs, several works-in-progress finished, a quilt put on my longarm, and several other projects started. And not only did they get done, but I was happy and running to do it. The house got cleaned more thoroughly than usual, and menu for the week was made. I’d love to say that everything on my to do list and everything in my world just magically fixed, happened, was effortless–and though that’s not the case–things just felt lighter, easier. More surmountable.

I’m starting to realize the importance of realizing how I recharge, and harnessing my world to take advantage of those times. For Pete’s sake, I know how I get burned out–it makes sense to know how I regroup, too. I have a hunch that this same thing applies to most people, especially most young moms, who find themselves in the midst of a life that is all about extending yourself to accommodate, nurture and enrich everyone around you. It’s not even that I feel like I’ve forgotten to take care of myself as much as it is that by the time I remember, I have nothing left to give to the effort. It’s easy to imagine that I’m the only one who drops into bed at the end of the day and thinks “Maybe I’ll get a few minutes tomorrow to sew/eat/shower/dream/think/plan/organize/be happy tomorrow. I’m done today.” But I know I’m not the only one, and that’s why I’m writing this–as a gentle reminder.

Take a few minutes. Center yourself. Figure out when you can have a few hours to rejuvenate–whatever that means to you. Consider it a little spring cleaning for your soul.

xoxo

April

PS Hugs and kisses to Miss Lily, who let me photograph her “clean pretty bedroom!” for my post. There’s just something calming about lamplight, don’t you think? I happen to believe I can’t feel “quiet” inside without some major cleanliness outside. But that’s a post for another day. Mwa!

 



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