Meaty Chili

I love the vegan chili that I posted yesterday, but my guy feels the tomato overpowers the bean flavor.  That is one of the many reasons I make this meaty chili.  For me, this one is a little too heavy for anything outside of Winter, but it goes great to “water down” the vegan chili.

I will keep this short and sweet and get right to it.

2 1/2 – 3 lbs ground beef, the leaner the better if you are doing this crockpot style. (If you use fattier than say, 90/10 then I would brown the beef first, drain off the fat and then follow the recipe as is)

1 can black soy beans, with liquid

1/2 cup brewed coffee (I know this sounds a little weird, but it makes the flavor just amazing and if you use stew meat it makes it super tender)

1 packet (or 3 tbsp if you buy in bulk container) dry ranch dressing mix, not prepared

1/2 packet of taco seasoning (or about 1 tbsp if you make your own, which is much tastier anyway) plus 1 tbsp chili powder and 1 tbsp garlic powder

This one really couldn’t be easier either.  It is going to look a little dry, but as it cooks it will all come together and if you like yours with more juice, you can always add some beef broth to your liking.  Toss all ingredients into the stoneware of your slow cooker, cover and cook on high about 4-5 hours or 8 hours on low.

Also if you have all day to cook this, it is great with some stew meat in place of the ground beef.  I usually cut mine a little smaller than it comes packaged from the store.  I usually serve this one with some fresh diced jalapeños, a few tortilla strips, and a spoon of sour cream.

Again, this one got eaten so fast there was no time to take a picture, but it is on the menu for later this week so I will get a shot of it then.

 

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The poncho that wouldn’t end

So sorry for the delay (I know you were on pins and needles) I thought I had this one scheduled to be posted, but I did something wacky and it didn’t work.  Anyway, here it is.  There is a poncho that I had fell in love with on Pinterest a while back.  It looked so cozy and comfy while still looking classic and elegant.  I had to have it!  But…it was a crochet pattern.  I didn’t know how to crochet a few months back.  So, alas, no poncho for me.  It never occurred to me to try to knit it, but since I have since learned how to crochet so now it should be no problem. (The pattern for this gorgeous thing is avail for free!)

poncho love

Except, it was.  I started this project more than a week ago.  I had an enormously long starting chain (because I wasn’t following instructions) and when I got several rows into it, I noticed it was just waaay too long.  That wasn’t going to work.  So I pulled out all of my stitches and started anew.

I had to re-roll my yarn into balls, count my starting chain doing many fewer than the first try, and get back to my half and full double crochet stitches.  Then…at the end of my yarn it was not what I wanted.  I didn’t have enough to make it as wide as I had envisioned, and I ran out of one of the colors before the other and had this weird color blocking thing I was not digging at all.

Now here we are at attempt number 3.  I re-rolled all of my yarn into one huge ball (that I am constantly fighting the cats for) dropped my starting chain down by about 15 more stitches, and once again got back to work.

take 3

Mine final poncho ended up quite different than the one I wanted to recreate, but I am liking it.  Next time I attempt it, I will follow the directions better to try to get something closer to the one I first fell in love with.

What I ended up with was very simple to create once I  started the third time.  I made my starting chain of 100.  The first row I made my turning chain and then did half double crochets to the end.  The next 12 rows was a simple turning chain with double crochets until I ran almost out of yarn, and left a very long tail in order to seem together the two end pieces.

In order to finish this piece, what I did was to take the other corner in the same line, the last row of the full double crochet, and count up the number of stitches to equal the same number of rows so the two pieces end at the same point.  On mine, I started seeming them together 19 stitches up from the end.  I used a simple slip stitch to make it a nice flat-ish seem that was not too bulky.

Pointy poncho

I like the end result of this because you can wear it a few different ways.  I like it with the point down in the front.  It feels much more poncho-like to me that way.  But you can also wear it off to the side, more like a wrap, which is cute too.

Side

 

Crazy Cat Lady

You may not know this, but I am a crazy cat lady.  Or at least I hope to be one day.  I currently have 3 living here (and I am trying to justify getting more).  They do not get along well so one has separate living space.  The one that is alone is definitely a loner when it comes to other cats, but we didn’t know that when she first came to live with us.  (Yes, us.  Crazy cat lady status not withstanding, I am not an 87 year old blue haired lady who has 20+ cats and no guy.)  My Guy loves cats, too.  In fact, all of our cats where once just his.  Which is why he didn’t look at me like I was nuts when I told him I wanted to get the little one some furniture, I think.  The other cats have all sorts of things to jump up on, but our little one didn’t have a whole lot of places she could perch.

I had spend a good bit of time on a great site for Ikea Addicts.  I stumbled onto it via Pinterest.  I had seen some cool ideas to use some of the pieces from Ikea to make pet related items, and one was one of my favorite bookcases.  That was it.  I was going to Ikea and coming back with cat furniture, or the beginnings of it at least.

A simple to build bookcase, a piece of carpet and a pet bed is really all you will need.

A simple to build bookcase, a piece of carpet and a pet bed is really all you will need.

So I buzzed over to the store and picked up a 2×2 Expedit bookcase, an indoor/outdoor rug, some heavy duty Velcro, and got to work.  These cases are really easy to put together.  I did it by myself and I think it took 20 minutes or so.

20 minutes later…

I cut a piece of the rug to fit the top, about 15″ by 34″ as I wanted some over hang.  I attached this with Velcro so I can change it out once it gets torn up.  The original project that inspired this had rope wrapped around the side pieces so the cats could scratch, but knowing our cat, I knew the rug is what she would go after so I didn’t bother with the rope.  In one of the cubbies I put a pillow (with a removable and washable cover) I left 2 unaltered in case she wanted to cool her belly on the wood, and the 4th cubbie I lined with her fuzzy blanket.  She loves to look at herself so I have a mirror set on the top so she can admire her cute furry self.

She loves to sit on the top of the petting station and look at herself in the mirror. It is covered in little nose prints.

She loves this thing!  We have taken to calling it her petting station.  She hangs out on top of it more often than not, and everyone who passes her must pay the toll (which is a few pats on the head or a butt scratch)   Since I originally made the petting station a few months back, I have whipped up a cute little pet bed that sits on the top.

This is the pet bed that sits on top of the petting station.  It is possible that she is a little spoiled

This is the pet bed that sits on top of the petting station. It is possible that she is a little spoiled

She is almost always up there now, but I put a few treats in the lower cubbies every now and then so she checks those out occasionally.  Over all this was a great idea for kitties, and if she ever decides she doesn’t like it, it is still an awesome bookcase.

Here she is waiting for treats

Here she is waiting for treats

Gonna call this one: Nailed It! since the little one is so happy with it.

Start small – Chalkboard paint

I wanted to start with a small project.  Also, I am a bit on the broke side.  I am currently smack in the middle of starting a new business and that has me pretty strapped for cash these days.  That being said, I do need to step away from the business stuff and do something for me every now and then.  Today, I thought I would do just that.

Todays project: This whole chalkboard paint thing.

This has got to be one of the simplest projects I have ever done, pin or no pin.  If you are looking for something little, easy, and way cheap, this just may be the project for you.

Materials needed are minimal.  The instructions are pretty straight forward.  I am thinking I can handle this, so let’s see.  Shall we?

Gather supplies and get ready!

You need: 2 tablespoons unsanded grout (had some on hand from a locally owned hardware store)

1 cup paint – any color you please (I grabbed a 7.2 oz sample size of paint from the same hardware store ages ago and never used them for what I had in mind.)

Something to stir with

Container to mix it in (I am just going to use the container the paint came in)

Something to paint

If you are anything like me, you will want to get your painting clothes on and pull your hair back because no matter how hard you try, you just get paint everywhere.

Once you have all of your stuff together, here is the tricky part.  You pour the grout power into the paint and mix it pretty well.  Real tricky, right? The paint looks a bit dry – but not to worry.  It came out great.

Just remember to stir it up every now and then while you paint.

Next you want to paint a thin layer over your item.  From what I have read, you want to paint on a clean surface, and paint in a different direction with each coat.  I used this glass platter that I got from a yard sale.  I think it was marked 25 cents, so I treated it as my test subject.  I also didn’t clean it before I started.  I painted top to bottom for the first coat and left to right for the second.  The paint looks a little lumpy when you start but it smoothed out as it sat.  It was like the grout power dissolved in the paint in between coats.  I can be a bit impatient from time to time, so I went around grabbing other things to paint while I was waiting for my platter to dry.  I painted the sides of some drawers, these glasses, and a few other trinkets I found laying around.

The glass platter and drinking glass both took the paint just fine.

Once the paint has dried overnight you are supposed to sand it, but I didn’t really feel like it, so I skipped that step.  I did prep the paint though.  That is, when you color the whole surface with chalk to keep the ghosting from happening where you can see everything that was every written on it.  Yea, I hate that.  So I coated the surface and now, for the test.

Rub a bit of chalk over the entire painted surface to avoid ghosting.

I think it turned out pretty well.  What do you think?

As you can see, the paint worked well on the wood surface of this drawer too.

As I have said before, I am working on starting a new business so all of my spare change goes to that.  This means I am going to be doing pretty inexpensive projects, at least for a while.  Since I used only things I already had around the house, this project cost me nothing.  If you were to go out and buy all of the supplies then you can figure on the following costs.

Unsanded grout – about 10 bucks for a HUGE bag that will lasts you for gallons and gallons of this chalkboard mix.

Paint – if you stick to samples or Oops cans from the store, then 5 to 10 dollars.

For items to paint – well this is where you imagination gets to run wild.  I haven’t yet tried this paint on plastic so I don’t know how well it will take to that, but for glass and wood I have had no troubles.  A favorite place of mine to get cool stuff on the cheap is IKEA.  The Rast line is decent unfinished wood that you can make into just about anything. (Check out Ikea Hackers and search for Rast for inspiration.)

So if you much buy paint, grout and even a rast nightstand to try it out on we are talking 30-35 bucks.  Not too shabby, eh?

Going to have to call this one:  Nailed It!  I love the way it turned out, plus the green is my favorite color.