Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Six Sisters' Stuff Slow Cooker Chicken Broccoli Alfredo: A Review

Hey y'all. I'm back with another review from our foray into freezer cooking. This time, it's another recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff. Before I begin, I have to mention that in our first round of freezer cooking the recipes we used came mostly from Six Sisters. If it seems like I'm sticking with them, I am. For now. They offered the most simple, easy to follow recipes that included ingredients that I generally have on hand and can afford. Definitely a plus for this girl! You know I'm all about simplifying this year. 

I will be branching out on our next freezer cooking day, which I think will be in March. I'm already gathering new recipes! Make sure you follow my freezer cooking board on Pinterest. You can follow along by clicking below:

Now, onto the recipe. 

Y'all, I really wanted to love this one. I really did. Hubby and I love pasta. We don't often do Alfredo sauce, but we enjoy it at home from time to time. So this seemed like the perfect option for us. Unfortunately, we felt the recipe had a few flaws. 

When I think of Alfredo sauce, I think creamy, rich and smooth. Unfortunately, when I opened my Crock Pot, that's not what I found. Instead, the sauce was separated and not creamy at all. What I think might've happened was the water inside the frozen broccoli and the liquid inside the frozen chicken, ended up thinning the jarred sauce, creating a watery, soupy sauce. Also, through the cooking process it looked like the sauce had curdled a bit. It just lost the creamy, thick texture it had in the jar.

Luckily, it was salvageable. To make the sauce creamy again, I added another jar of Alfredo sauce I had on hand, and then grated some fresh Parmesan cheese into the sauce and stirred it all together. I just let it warm through in the Crock Pot and then shredded the chicken before serving.

I will say that it didn't taste bad. The flavor was nice, though I didn't think it needed the green bell pepper at all. That's just a personal preference though.

And in the interest of being as honest as I can be, hubby and I did split the recipe into two bags since we didn't need such a huge amount for two people. That could have been a factor, but I don't believe it to be. Even if we had put everything into one bag the water from the veggies and the liquid from the chicken would still have been there and I feel like it would've still thinned out the jarred sauce.

Overall, Adam and I liked the flavor but felt it would've been just as easy to warm up some jarred sauce and add in some fresh broccoli and cooked chicken in a regular pan. It wasn't bad at all, but not what we expected and not something we're likely to make again. If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can find the recipe here

If you missed the our first review of Hearty Beef Stew, you can find it here. It was a total winner!

Friday, February 14, 2014

What is Love? An Open Letter to My Nieces

Since it's Valentine's Day, I thought I would forego the flowery Happy Valentine's Day post and instead take a moment to write a letter to my nieces who are either at the beginning or end of their wedding planning journey.

Dear Katie and Sara,

I want you to know that what I'm about to say isn't meant to discourage you in any way. And I want you both to be exuberantly happy in your upcoming marriages. But before you walk down the aisle, I want to share a few things I, your not so old and fuddy duddy Aunt, has learned in my almost four years of marriage. And yes, I realize that four years doesn't make me an expert or anything, but think of it as your future self offering advice to your bride self right now. OK? Ok.

Girls let's talk. Right now you're probably frazzled by all those wedding details, but let's talk marriage details. Love is amazing isn't it? It's that feeling when your heart flutters and you have butterflies in your stomach and that guy you've chosen, that amazing guy, can do no wrong. I can practically see the stars twinkling in your eyes. All those overwhelming feelings, that urge to put your whole self into this amazing thing and this amazing man, that's love right? Well, no.

Sorry. It's the truth though. Those feelings (and urges...ahem) are an illusion. One day, a few years down the road the honeymoon will be over and those feelings that seem so overwhelming and all consuming right now will take a back seat to things like paying bills, what to eat for dinner, how to get all those errands run and how to move forward in your chosen careers. You might even look at your spouse for a brief moment and think "man, I miss those early days where what I was feeling was so big and exciting", but that's an illusion too. The butterflies and heart pounding are nothing compared to what awaits you.

Love and marriage are a daily re-commitment to help your spouse, to love them even when they annoy the crap out of you (yes, it will happen), and to be the best you you can be...because they need you at your best.

Keep in mind though that being the best you doesn't include perfection. (And even more importantly, apply that same logic to the love of your life...he's not perfect and he never will be and nothing you do will change that).

Love...is being your own independent you. Have your own goals and dreams and hobbies and time by yourself. If the sun rises and sets in your spouse you will begin to resent him for it. Live as though you can live without him, but choose to live with him. If you don't like what he's watching on TV, don't pout and sigh loudly, get up off the sofa and find something to do that makes you happy.

Love...is knowing that you can't, and shouldn't, try and change him. All those annoying little things he does while you're dating are only going to continue to annoy you when you're married. And guess what? You'll find new things that will stand on your last nerve. But you'll also find a thousand new reasons to love him. Focus on those. Let things go. This marriage isn't all about you, and I can promise you that there are things you do that drive him just as crazy (and not in the good way).

Love...is not an end game. That big fluffy wedding you're planning is nice and a special moment, but it's not the end of a chase, or even the goal. Don't be obsessed with the wedding and realize that marriage isn't your end goal. Marriage is a beginning and it's not a magic pill that will make everything in your life perfect. Marriage does not instantly make you happy. It doesn't wipe out past failures. It doesn't heal your heart. It makes life more complicated. It's supposed to. It's a challenge for sure, but if you do it right, even the "worse" part of for better or worse is going to be pretty awesome in hindsight.

Love...is not wearing your heart on your sleeve. If there was ever a time to put your big girl panties on (and not the skimpy sexy ones either, we're talking granny panties here) marriage is it. Don't assume that what he's doing is meant to upset you. Do your best to cultivate calm. Argue fairly, don't bring up past hurts. Don't bolt when he's made you angry. Stay, stick it out. Getting married is done on a feeling, staying married is a choice. Trust me on this.

Love...is keeping your marital problems to yourself. Every couple has problems. You argue, you'll fight. You'll probably wonder why on earth you ever thought marriage was a good idea. (That last one is a moment of weakness, I promise.) DON'T share those things with your family and friends. See, while you may just be venting your frustrations, you are forever changing your families' view of your spouse. He could be the nicest guy in the world (and he probably is) but when you do nothing but complain about him, we hold on to that. We see him only how you present him. And think about what that does to him. Would you want him saying similar things to his family about you? I didn't think so.

Over all girls, I want you to love yourself. It's so, so easy to find your identity in another person, but that doesn't last. Know who you are, love yourself enough first. Strive to be confident in your own skin. Never rely on him solely to fill you up. That's not fair to him, or you.

Good luck in your impending marriages. Adam and I will be there to cheer you on, on your big day, but we also reserve the right to kick your butt if needed. ;)

Aunt Christina

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Simplified Goals for February 2014

A new month means a new set of simple monthly goals here in the Scrappy household. Here's what I have on tap for this month: 

  1. Start planning our landscaping and gardening projects for the year.
  2. Spruce up the upstairs guest bathroom.
  3. Organize my jewelry box.
  4. Continue working on our filing cabinet and important papers.
I'm lagging, even getting this post up (!!), but I have time. Lots of it given the stupid amounts of snow we're waiting on as I type this. Anyone else ready for spring?

And as always, I'll be blogging about my progress. I'm thinking I'll tackle the jewelry box tomorrow while it snows (and snows and snows...).

How are your resolutions or goals progressing? Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you. :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

My One Little Word for 2014

So, in case you aren't familiar with One Little Word it was started a few years ago by Ali Edwards, blogger, scrapbooker, and designer extraordinaire as a way to focus the year ahead and define how you want your life to be for the next twelve months.

I'll admit that over the past couple of years I've picked a word and then promptly dismissed it. Part of the problem is the depression was consuming me at the time and I couldn't see past it enough to focus on anything else. But now that I'm healthier and much happier I feel like I have the space and desire to focus on how I want my life to look for the next year. 

I know that I've mentioned this before but now that I'm healthy again, I have this deep desire for things to be as simple and easy as possible. Sure, that's not always going to happen, but it doesn't mean I can't strive for simplicity, which is why this year, my One Little Word is simplify

All year long I'm going to work to make my day to day life as simple as I can make it. And the best part is that I get to share my adventure in simplifying with all of you! 

Do you have a word for the year? Maybe a blog post about it? I'd love to stop by and read about what's important to you this year. Leave me a comment with a link if you have one and I'll respond or pop by! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Six Sisters' Stuff Hearty Beef Stew: A Review

Hey y'all! A few of you said you might want reviews of the freezer cooking recipes we're trying and I'm more than happy to oblige.

We tried our first one last week and I'm happy to report it was fantastic!

The Hearty Beef Stew recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff is pretty much everything you want in a good beef stew. The beef gets nice and tender; it melts in your mouth really. The stew base is nice and thick and perfect for dipping bread or crackers into. And y'all, it makes a ton! For hubby and I, it made a good two full meals. Obviously if you have a bigger family you'll need to keep that in mind. I would say it feeds four comfortably. 

Now, if I'm being honest, and y'all know I am, my only pet peeve is that in the recipe, it states to slice the carrots. Hubby fired up our new KitchenAid food processor attachment and sliced up thin slices of carrot to dump in the bag along with the other ingredients. Well, once we had it all together we were both a little skeptical about how thin the carrots looked. (Truth: Hubby had used the really thin attachment by mistake so it was partly our fault...oops?) So I grabbed the recipe and realized that the girls at Six Sisters' Stuff had nice big chunks of carrot and not thin slices. They had chopped the carrots, not sliced them. If you're a new cook that could easily confuse you. Heck, we're pretty good at cooking, and it was confusing to us. Just something to keep in mind if you try the recipe. Also? Always take a look at the picture included. It'll give you a good idea of what something should look like.

For the record though, the thin slices didn't ruin anything. It still tasted great! Next time we'll know to make nice chunks. 

Another tip: I didn't include the potatoes in the freezer bag. Why? Potatoes can change texture or turn black when frozen. Freezing raw potatoes can make them kind of mealy when they're cooked. Nothing major, but I didn't mind chopping up a couple of potatoes and throwing them in with the thawed bag of ingredients once I was ready to cook it. 

You can find their awesome recipe by clicking here. I can guarantee you won't regret it! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Easy Valentine's Day Garland

I don't know about y'all but when I wander around craft stores (who am I kidding, stores in general) I find awesome seasonal decor ideas but then cringe at the price point. Maybe I'm just cheap? This year was no different. I found a really cute scrappy fabric garland for Valentine's Day at Michaels, but I didn't want to use my hard earned scrapbooking money (*ahem*) on extra decor for the house. Priorities people!

Then I realized I had a TON of pink, red and white scrap fabric, ribbon, felt and left over twine stashed in my craft room. I could just make one! For FREE!

And it's super simple guys. Promise. I just grabbed my scrap fabric, ribbon, twine, scissors and pinking shears and got to work.

I used the pinking shears to cut strips of quilt weight cotton fabric and my scissors to cut strips of felt and ribbons. I liked the effect of straight edge and pinked edge together. I didn't even measure, y'all! Just tried to get them as close to the same length as possible. Then I cut a length of twine about 4 to 5 feet in length. All that was left to do was wrap the fabric strips around the twine and make a knot.

Here's a closer look:

In the span of a couple of catch up episodes of Sherlock I had a totally cute garland to add to my Valentine's Day decor!

Here it is hanging up in our dining room.

The Be Mine banner is from Isaboo Designs. I won it a couple of years ago from Eva @ Tales of the Scotts. And the heart wreath came from either Michaels or Dollar Tree five or six years ago.

I love, love, love how this came together. I don't do a ton of holiday decorating aside from Christmas so this was perfect. I just used some Command hooks to hang it on the sides of the hutch. I couldn't be happier with it!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Simple Goal Setting in 2014

So, I know in terms of the blog world, I'm kind of behind the times in setting goals for a new year and sharing that with you, but I think that fits me pretty well. I'm different. I try really hard to be like everyone else but each time I completely fail at it, I'm reminded that I'm not everyone else. Even when it comes to how I'm setting goals this year.

If you're anything like the average girl, you might set goals or resolutions. Maybe something like, "lose weight" or "quit smoking" or "be more organized". Sound familiar? Y'all, every year for as long as I can remember I've tried that and failed...miserably. Are you with me?

This year I'm trying something different. I know I've said this before but since being diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety, I just can't make big sweeping goals or resolutions. And when I do, life becomes overwhelming really fast. So this year, I've decided to pick a goal for each week in the month.

For example, in January I chose four goals to focus on - not exactly small ones but definitely doable for me - that would make an impact either in my home, for me or my family.

My goals for January 2014:
  • Finish my niece Katie's wedding invitations
  • Clean out and reorganize the guest bedroom closet/Christmas and holiday decor
  • Organize built in cabinets in the basement
  • Clear out the filing cabinet and purge/scan/file/shred 
The first two goals are complete! The cabinets in the basement are much better, but I still need to finish up our DVD collection. The filing cabinet is still a work in progress and I'm happy to carry it over as a project for February. All of these projects will be coming to a blog *ahem* near you soon so keep an eye out!

How are you setting goals this year? Are you a big resolution setter or are you more small goals like me? I'd love to hear what you do to keep your year moving along.
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