Thursday, October 23, 2014

World's Best Chili

I’m no Pioneer Woman (I’m pretty sure she cooks more than once every few weeks), but I do make a terrific chili.  FYI the chili above is not my actual chili--it never hangs around long enough for me to get a picture. (source)

It's really rather simple.  Let's be honest, if I can make it, is has to be simple.  And since it's one of our most favorite fall/winter foods, I thought I'd share the recipe with you guys.

What you'll need:
  • 1 pound hamburger meat
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 28 oz. tomato paste (or crushed tomatoes....don't be too picky.)
  • 1 can Rotel
  • taco seasoning (No, not chili seasoning.  Taco seasoning.  McCormick's is my favorite.)
  • 1 onion, diced (sliced, chopped---choose your fancy.)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup salsa (I use Tostitos mild salsa most of the time, but if I'm feeling really froggy I make my own using this recipe.
What you'll do:
  • Brown hamburger meat.  Drain.
  • In your crockpot, combine the tomato paste, Rotel, taco seasoning, onion, and salsa.
  • Add hamburger meat.
  • Cook and crumble bacon, then add this to the crockpot, too.
  • Let simmer on low about an hour.
Ta-da!  World's Best Chili.  (Seriously, it's won my church's chili cook-off three times!)  The best part?  My girls eat it with little to no complaining, and that's major.  Those girls don't eat anything.

PS:  Thank you for ignoring the fact that I am completely failing at the whole #Write31Days thing.  I'm just giving myself lots of grace. :)

PPS:  Feel free to share your favorite recipe with me.  We especially love soups this time of year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Parents, Grandparents, and Pumpkins... Oh My!

October, November, and December are some of my most favorite months of the year.  It seems like that are stock-full of all kinds of fun things to do.

On Monday night, I made my World's Best Chili (stay tuned later in the week for that recipe) and both sets of grandparents (and Aunt Mal) came to eat and help us carve pumpkins.

Pops and Daddy cut the tops off and then the girls were all too happy to pull out all the slime from inside their pumpkins.

We searched online and found the "perfect" face templates for our pumpkins.  (If you are such a good carver that you don't need face templates, than boo on you!)

Libby insisted on carving her own pumpkin.  This lasted all of about three minutes before she passed the utensils over to me.

Kyndall's carving skills, however, were very impressive.  She had to have a little help, but most of hers was done all on her own.

The finished pumpkins are no masterpieces, but they are our own little works of art.

I have no idea what you are supposed to put on carved pumpkins to make them last.  Already this morning, the eyes were looking a little droopy on these poor guys.  At least it was fun while it lasted!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Field Trip!!! (And pumpkin patch visit #2)

Just so you know, if there is a pumpkin patch anywhere near us, you can trust that the West family has been there.  Between personal visits and field trips, we are experts on pumpkin patches in the south.

Last week, Libby's class ventured out to 4-D Family Farms in Hanceville, Alabama.  (It's kind of a tradition around these parts to go to a farm/pumpkin patch in the fall.  Kyndall's class will be going in a few weeks.)

In case you didn't know, I'm growing a baby. (That explains the awkward hand placement in the above photo, right?) Add to that the fact that my sugar has been wonky, causing me to pass out a few times, and Justin felt the need to go with us to the pumpkin patch.    Whatever his reasons, Libby was ecstatic that both of us were going with her.  

She enjoyed that cow train, really.  Even though her facial expression says otherwise.

And this slide was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.  It made me a little sad that I couldn't go down it with her.  Check out that static-filled hair... I mean, does that just scream FUN or what?

Best photo of the day goes to this one.  I'm pretty sure she was bouncing on her butt on the pillow jump.  Fun stuff.

It's a rare occasion that the girls get individual attention from Mommy and Daddy at the same time.  Libby really soaked us up on this trip.  (We'll both be going on Kyndall's trip in a few weeks, so it's fair.)  

I love that we were able to do this before Jase gets here and I hope to make individual dates more of a priority in the future.  These sweet girls are growing so fast and I want the chance to revel in the age that they are, right now.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sidewalk Chalk Image Crusher

A few weeks ago, the girls and I made some fantastic sidewalk chalk art.  I traced Kyndall, Kyndall traced Libby, and Libby traced me.  That's Libby on the left, Kyndall in the middle, and Big Mama on the right.  There's nothing like having your child trace you in chalk to KILL whatever body image you've got going. Fun times =)

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Heart Fall.....And Especially Pumpkin Patches

We have a tradition.  (Ok, we have a lot of traditions, but this is our 'fall' one.)  Every October, for the past six years, we take a trip to a semi-local pumpkin patch with our friends.  We've visited Tate Farms, 4D farms, Gullion farms, and Lyon Family farms.  We pick our pumpkins, take our requisite photos, play, and just enjoy the day together.

Here we are last year at Lyon Family farms.

And the year before at Gullion Farms.

Previous years' photos were not digital and could not be located for this post.  I've really got to get a better handle on photo organization.

This year, we went to Tate Farms again.  We had a new little one with us--next year should really be an adventure with two little ones who are mobile!

How 'bout that baby bump? :)

The girls each chose a pumpkin from the patch to be carved/painted when we get home.

Libby really wanted a picture of me with Baby Jase sitting on a pumpkin, so there's that....

The kids bounced on the pillow jump, rolled in the corn, and got lost in the hay maze.  We had ice-cold lemonade, cotton candy, and absolutely perfect fall weather.  I couldn't have imagined a better day!

If you don't have the tradition of visiting a pumpkin patch in the fall, I strongly recommend it.  Also, we are always open for suggestions of new patches to visit, so if you know of a place, let me know!