Category: Wellness

The Sunday Night Panic

Honestly, I don’t know what causes it.

The overwhelming sense of dread that creeps in on Sunday night before bed. The feeling that makes me afraid to turn off the light and snuggle under the covers alone with my thoughts.

No matter how many lists I write, alarms I set, or reminders in my phone…I never feel prepared.

There is too much to do and not enough time and energy to get it done.

Maybe it’s nerves because I had to schedule appointments with specialists last week. Maybe it’s because the wind is coming in from the Northwest. Maybe it’s the bariatric pressure.

Or it’s just my mind turning on me for no good reason.

No matter what the reason, the Sunday night panic is my least favorite feeling in the world. No cause, no solution. Only raw nerves and fear.

On the bright side, I’ll feel a heck of a lot better tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll even have a minute to give you an update on the budget. It’s not exciting but I’ve got a new list of expenses and a pretty good idea of incoming funds and it’s looking okay for the rest of August and maybe even though September!

What if all this work I’ve been doing can be applied to other things?

Do you worry like I do?

I thought when I was young worry was a feeling. Like, “I feel worried” and I was either worried about something happening or not happening or just worried in general. I thought the way to deal with the worry was planning. If I had a plan for every possible outcome then I don’t have to worry because I have a plan.

As a kid, that was pretty helpful because kid sized problems have limited numbers of solutions and I went to sleep at night knowing I was covered.

Now? I have plans upon plans upon plans. I’m like an evil genius with all these post it notes strewn about my desk, on my monitor, stuck to my computer tower, and even on the walls. (I use a tiny piece of tape to keep them on the wall because my walls are slightly textured.) It feels like I’m constantly scribbling something on a post it so I don’t forget.

It’s a rare thing for me to forget. The system might be a bit loony and it might be weird and it might look like a post it factory threw up on my desk area but it WORKS.

The feeling didn’t go away, though. I still worry there is something I haven’t thought of. A scenario I’m not prepared for. I scan my post it notes and make sure all the scenarios are covered. I mean, I allow myself the luxury of not planning for natural disasters. I mean, you can’t plan for every-everything now, can  you? Just all the things up to (but not including) acts of God. If it’s good enough for my insurance policy, it’s good enough for me.

Also, if you ever find yourself saying that you may need to rethink your priorities. Insurance is not a good way to gauge anything you’re doing with your life.

I meandered again, didn’t I? I could seriously talk about my post it notes all day long because I love them and they comfort me like a kid with a teddy bear. No lie. Okay, so I was worrying about a lot of stuff all the time and making decisions for things that hadn’t even happened yet and decision fatigue would set in right around the time I would think of introducing a caloric deficit (however small) or increasing activity (however little) and those would just get swept under the rug of “not now” choices I was not prepared to deal with because I knew they weren’t one-shot deal decisions but choices I would have to be consistent about. So I maintained.

Fast forward to this year and for the last five weeks I’ve been taking a weight lifting/cardio class. I made it to 3 of the 5 classes at my local Y. I missed one because I had to take the kids to softball practice and I missed the other one because I had to take my youngest to her kindergarten kick-off. I felt great every time I *did* go, though, and it didn’t feel overwhelming or scary or like the world was going to fall apart while I was away from home. I learned that I really enjoy lifting weights and doing cardio before and after weights was a great way to warm up and cool down.

I felt absolutely over the moon victorious finishing a five week class.

That first weight class? It was like the first time I just wrote down all my bills. It was pretty good, I missed a couple things, but it was a start. I felt good afterward. Three out of five classes was a good start. I looked over the problem areas (missing classes) and realized that the misses had nothing to do with my desire to go but other obligations.

The fix? Classes that didn’t conflict with kid stuff. More classes in case I have to miss one due to a kid issue. One class a week means if you miss a class you miss the week. That’s not good.

This is exactly how I think through my finances.

What worked? Keep it! What didn’t work? Fix it. Less judgement and more improvement.

Judgement is the killer of improvement because judgement says, “To hell with all of it I’ll never be good enough so why bother. Improvement says, “How about two days a week since one didn’t feel overwhelming?”

I think this pattern of micro- improvements™ is so ingrained from applying it to finances all these years applying it to fitness has a decent chance of working. If it doesn’t, we’ll fix what doesn’t work.

One thing at a time or everything falls apart is my fitness motto.

April 20th – May 23

  • Monday: 5:30pm Cardio Kickboxing
  • Tuesday: 9:30am Cardio Mix
  • Wednesday: 9:30am Total Toning
  • Thursday: 9:30am Cardio Mix & 5:30pm Total Toning
  • Friday: 10:30am Women on Weights

Since I’m a member of the Y (Thank goodness for the reduced-fee membership!!!) these classes are included in my membership (except the weights class – that was $5). Childcare is available from 9-Noon and is free. There is no reason not to get an hour of activity a day in.

I tend to do better with the structure of classes and having a specific time to be at a place with a teacher and other people. Maybe, eventually, I will be able to just “go to the gym” like people do but I’m not there yet. I’m fine with not being there yet. I’m tired of throwing a dart at a mental dartboard and choosing a place where I “should” be or what I “should” be doing.

It’s self-care. Something just for me that will make me feel good.

 

If it turns out that I can actually apply all this consistency with the budget to OTHER THINGS? You guys. You guys…for real you guys….I don’t know exactly what that means but it feels like a secret to the universe or something. If it works. Let’s not get cocky now. (*whispers* I’m totally being a little cocky but only to myself in a really quiet way…)

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Kettlebells – First and Second Workout (With YouTube Links)

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I have a book on my counter that was due on the 10th. I haven’t finished it yet, I’m slogging through to the end like a tortoise in molasses. I’ve even started reading a new, better, more shiny book instead but can’t seem to let the other one go until I’ve gotten to the very last page.

I’m kind of weird like that when it comes to books. I just have to finish. There is no, “Meh, I’ll quit now.” option in my brain. So every once in a while I just keep a book when it was supposed to be returned (I’ve run out of renewals) and decide to pay the ten cents a day in penalties. There are fabulous organizations I could join at the library, but I consider my late fees as a direct (non tax deductible) donation to the place I love in my town more than any other.

About Those Kettlebells

I bought a kettlebell (15lb / 6.8kg) because the workouts looked cool and I want to start weight training. I’ve wanted one for about five years but finally took the plunge when I saw there was a 40% off sale at amazon and since I have Prime I was able to get it to my door for under $20!

I spent the next four weeks looking at it sitting next to my office chair and picking it up with my right hand or left and and just lifting it up and looking at it. I basically engaged in exercise foreplay with my kettlebell and got the feel for it before deciding to take the leap and just, you know, work out.

Thursday morning I had that moment. The one where you’re like, “Yeah. Today is the day.” The older kids were at school and Mr. Brickie had taken the youngest to the dentist. I hopped on YouTube and searched through videos until I found one that was short enough I thought I could do it where everyone looked like they were focused on form and not just whipping the kettlebell around everywhere.

This is the one I picked

I checked it with some people I know do kettlebells and really care about form and they said that it was okay. For a free YouTube video I was pretty sure “Okay” was as good as I was going to get.

Now, two days later and I’m still having a little trouble getting up from my chair and, god help me, on to my toilet. It’s like, why can’t the toilet be like three inches higher because then I would be fine, but nooooooo. I’m sorry if that’s TMI but there it is. My toilet was made three inches too low.

On the bright side (idiot alert coming, be prepared) I learned the big muscles on the front of my thighs are my quads. So I can wander around and be all, “Oh brah, my quads are screamin’ from my kettlebell workout!” and sound totally cool. Okay, maybe not cool, but I’ll sound like a wannabe and you know, that’s more than I had three days ago.

Today I wanted to work out again but since my quads still hurt I wanted to find a kettlebell workout for my core that didn’t involve my legs. I found a couple and did the stuff up to where they get on the floor because – and here’s a fun piece of trivia – I can’t lay down on the ground without all the nerves in my back and my butt and my arms and my legs going crazy with pain – so floor work is something I avoid at all costs. I’ve been this way since I could no longer lay down completely in the bathtub and float, so probably single digit age. As soon as I had to sit up for the whole bath, it was showers all the way. I’m weird.

From this video I did the disco dance move and the football catch move. If you watch this one, the way he spells kettlebells with his legs at the end is hilarious. I kept wondering if his body was more defined on the right side because of how the alphabet is but then figured it was a minimal difference and appreciated the fact that dude was trying to mix it up and keep things entertaining. I respect that.

From this video I did the halos. Yes, that’s right, just the halos. Between not getting on the ground and wanting to give my quads all the rest they require so I can walk correctly, I had to skip pretty much everything else. I did leave it on my playlist for later, though, because I like to save workouts I do that seem to have great form.

Those halos are intense! I loved them and felt the muscles on the sides of my abs like crazy. I love feeling the muscles work. Not, like, work-hurt, just feeling the resistance is something I dig the feel of.

Every time I learn a new move I call Mr. Brickie in and have him try it out. Of course, I’ve pretty much forgotten (because I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to my husband’s high school glory days) that he considered himself quite the weightlifter in high school. I’ll wait for those of you who know or have met my husband to stop laughing.

You okay now?

Okay.

So my 135lbs. soaking wet husband who thinks he’s weightlifting champion of the world always takes the kettlebell with a total gym-bro look on his face and proceeds to hold it wrong. Like, totally wrong. So after we spend time on his form he will then tell me a story about his high school lifting. Usually it’s the same story, because testosterone? I have no idea. But then he will do the move and try to do it like 50 times.

Here’s the thing. I have to correct his form about every second time. He doesn’t get that it’s far better to do five reps of something with perfect form than 100 reps of something just whipping the kettlebell around. I think he’s ignoring me when I speak or something because I am telling you I’ve told him this over and over. He’ll watch the video and then just start whipping it around.

That didn’t sound right at all.

I finally got through to him (this time) by telling him if he had sloppy form he was more likely to lose his grip and throw the kettlebell into my television and if that happened I would kill him. Surprise! The minute his form was good he couldn’t do eighty million reps.

He is such a goof.

5 Ways We Deal With Poor People Stress

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One of the things I have been asked more than a few times is how we deal with being poor.

My knee-jerk instant response is, “We know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Once in a while someone gets smart and says, “Really? That just keeps working?” or my favorite, “Didn’t he just get his current job last April? What about before that?”

I always meet smart people. Some of them love to ask probing questions. As you can tell, that doesn’t bother me.

One of the things that makes me different is that I have never felt comfortable turning to God for comfort. The way I see it, he didn’t get me into this mess, so it’s not really his to clean up. I have no problem with anyone feeling differently and, to be fair, I’m totally jealous of people who can hand their troubles over to God. It seems like a really good place to be.

But these are my things that help me in leiu of having a kind and loving God to just take my stress and turn it into origami swans or whatever it is that happens to your stress when it’s given to your savior. I’m not mocking, I promise. I just like the image of a savior up in the clouds forming stress into other things like an artist. It’s a friendly image, not really a funny one.  Almost wistful, really.

Extreme Stress Doesn’t Help

I used to think if I was “on point” all the time and always thinking about everything (you probably think I’m exaggerating, lol) things would be easier. You know what I mean? If you just looked busy things would work out. If I did the dishes three times a day it would somehow keep my mind occupied.

Once you have a come to Jesus moment with yourself and you and yourself can agree that being extremely stressed is not doing you any good, you can start to let those feelings go. It takes a while and I still have spikes of horrible stress now and then, but it’s so much less than it was before I made a decision to not be as stressed on a regular basis.

Don’t worry. If you think being less stressed will make you less productive, give it a try. Nothing is forever if you don’t want it to be. Pick a couple of days or a week where you will just do your best to not be stressed and see what happens at the end. The first day or two might be f-it-all days, but you will find a balance where you get things done and once you do what you can, that’s what you did and that’s okay.

I’m still working on this one. I’m giving the advice I’m trying to take here…not the advice I’ve been doing for years with great success. Just for the sake of honesty I thought I should tell you.

Stay Inspired

I’m one of a small group of people who not only listen to Dave Ramsey every day, but a listener that isn’t an evangelical Christian. Listening to him talking about God and Jesus does not bother me in the least. To be honest, sometimes when he gets all judgmental about other groups of people it bothers me, but I remind myself I don’t listen for his political beliefs, I listen because I want to be indoctrinated and reminded constantly that I do not want to be in debt ever again.

I wanted to be debt free for years before I ever heard the radio show. I told my boyfriend at the time, “I just want one dollar. One dollar that no one else has a claim to.” So once I heard Dave, I was immediately like, “This guy gets me.” That eventually changed to, “This guy gets me financially.”  It doesn’t matter if we’d be besties, it matters that he has people calling in telling their stories and asking their questions and that helps me learn more about my situation. I like to think it also makes me a person with more empathy.

Those are my people. People who are striving to get to that place where they feel secure. I feel the pain of some of the questions like it was my own. I cheer with the people who took forever-and-a-day to pay things off because of babies or life or losing a job. I feel inspired at the end of the show almost every time.

What inspires you?

Stay Open to New Ideas

One of my big sticking points about home ownership is when I thought about property taxes. I need to do a separate blog post on property taxes because I don’t understand them completely, but from what I understand if you pay off your house but for whatever reason cannot afford your property taxes, you can still lose your home.

So really, there is no way to own your home without having a rent payment on that bad boy. If we paid this house off tomorrow we would still have a monthly payment of $235 forever. (Okay, it will probably increase but with inflation.)  That is far cheaper than rent for a house the size you have, I’m sure. But it’s not ownership in any sense that I understand it. My definition of ownership is “it’s mine and you can’t take it” right? So I don’t get that emotional warm fuzzy from a home vs. renting a house or renting an apartment.

I use thinking about things in different ways on other things to keep stress levels down, too. As long as it has some solid logic behind it, it will help reduce your stress.

If I know I don’t have the few hours it takes to determine rent vs. own and what those numbers look like, I put it on the back burner until I do have time. I have a list of things that take a couple hours of research and when I have a chunk, I grab the list and pick what I’m in the mood to research!

This is another thing I’m working on. I sometimes try to do a bunch of things on the list, get confused with seventeen tabs open in my browser and then shut it all down and walk away because it feels like my brain is melting. So, again, it’s “work in progress” advice.

Give More Hugs

When I get really stressed I don’t want to be touched. So I would hug everyone less and try not to cringe when my kids ran up and jumped into my arms. My husband figured out pretty quick I was feeling like a prickly pear and he didn’t want to hug the porcupine any more than I wanted to be hugged.

This made me a less happy mommy, it made my kids less happy, and my husband was grumpy all the time. I realized that I was being stingy with my love because I was trying to be stingy with every penny. Love is not money. Love is infinite.

I said to myself, “For one week I’m going to hug anyone if I’m within five feet at any time.” By the end of the week I was sneaking up behind the kids (and Mr. Brickie!) to scare them with sneak hugs. I got elbowed in the face once, but it was a hilarious accident. now I hug everyone, all the time, and it’s made everyone so much happier!!

Even if it’s not a hug moment, I will reach out and graze an arm or a leg or the top of a head when I walk by. The contact is something that my kids just lean into every time.

If your child is not a hugger or does not like being touched, please don’t think I’m ignoring that possibility. My kids are all affectionate to the point that I am overwhelmed and so that is what I have found a solution to. Obviously, I do not think this will work for everyone.

That being said, if your child isn’t touchy or does not like hugs, what do you do to show your affection? Maybe if you leave a comment and let me know I can be more informed and you can help out another parent that reads this blog in the same position.

Be Kind to You!

I am not nice to me. I think I could do better at pretty much everything if I tried harder. I have laid in bed, too sick to move, telling myself, “You could get up if you really wanted to. You’re just being lazy. you’re not that sick, you’re overreacting.” I insult myself, I am cruel to myself, and I constantly think I don’t measure up to even the smallest things.

I decided 2014 was going to be my year of self-kindness. I am not comparing myself to others anymore (I did this to feel better and/or worse depending on my mood) because the only people I’m worried about are right in this house – with a few family/friend exceptions, of course – they are who I use to measure myself.

When my daughter tells me I am the best mommy in the world? I’ve decided to believe her. 

Here’s the secret. When I don’t compare myself to others I can be the best mommy in the world without taking anything away from any other mommy or daddy or other-mother who is being told they are the best mommy in the world, too. It’s not a competition anymore.

How do you make yourself feel less stressed?

 

My Shady Ambulance Bill Story

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So I’ve been dealing with bills I racked up the last time I went to the emergency room.

This is actually a good thing. The reason I’ve been having these problems is because I have primary and secondary insurance.

See? A good kind of problem.

I assumed my Medicaid (The poor folk insurance not the old folk insurance. I always mix the names up.) would be cancelled when we got the PPO coverage through Mr. Brickie’s job. It wasn’t. It’s become our secondary insurance.

So now I wait for bills to come in and I send back my primary and secondary insurance information and wait for the bills to go (at least partially) away.

My mail had a new bill today. The ambulance company. They wanted to let me know in big, bold letters they had billed all my insurance and I better send them what I owe. Which looks like the full amount.

Uh…if this is the first bill I’ve received I know darn well they only have one insurance company on the books, if that.

It makes me angry when any company uses threats and scare tactics and lies to try to get someone to pay a bill that’s not even past due. One that is using my town’s name on the letterhead so the lie seems more legit?

That makes me furious.

So I have a phone call to make on Monday morning to let them know that they did not, in fact, bill all available insurance companies. No matter what their Microsoft Word invoice template says.

They better be receptive, because I sure as heck don’t have $500 to fork over because I was in too much pain to walk. I know Google isn’t the most reliable source but everything I’m seeing makes it look like I should be covered. The ER doesn’t give you morphine with a toradol chaser for hangnails.

It’s not like I screamed for my husband to call 911 because I needed a taxi but didn’t want to wait.

They didn’t even put enough of the name of the insurance company they did bill for me to be able to just mail back the copy of the card they need to complete the file.

Frustrating.

Companies should make it easy to provide information quickly and securely.

Have you had to deal with an ambulance bill before? Were they shadier than your other medical bills or is this company being a special kind of awful?

Chicken Nugget Recipe (or, Let’s All Try Not to Get Salmonella!)

IMG_3185We had some chicken thighs hanging out in the fridge for a while (my “as snotty as they sell at Walmart” brand) and even though a very lovely, dear, kind, almost nun-like lady is shipping me an extra meat grinder for my KitchenAid, my cooking instincts told me this meat wasn’t going to last that long.

I decided to suck it up and just this one time use my super-amazing 2 cup chopper attachment that my KitchenAid immersion blender came with to process the chicken thighs into mush.

IMG_3186“Why would you be putting raw chicken into your immersion blender attachment?” I can hear someone ask. Not you, someone else. Someone far less cool than you. “Because I want to smear raw chicken on as many surfaces as possible, of course!”

I mean, life just isn’t fun without an element of danger. Right?

Oh. You probably want to know why I would be making my meat into mush in the first place. Well I was on Pinterest (I know, right?) and there was this recipe and it looked really good. You can find her Better Than Fast Food Chicken Nugget recipe here. She’s really good with a camera, too, so enjoy those glamour shots. You’re not getting that here. I use pictures to illustrate a point and so I use my iPhone camera. They’re not going to have writing on them but really, they get the point across.

After you stick the chicken thighs into the chopper they look like this:

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I put some chopped onions from the freezer and some minced garlic from the fridge into each round of chicken-whirring to try and kind of, I don’t know, enmesh the flavors into the raw chicken. Also, it made it smell less like raw chicken and that’s kind of a bonus right there.

The next part is the part that all you “I hate touching raw chicken” people are going to cringe about. It’s okay. I used to be one of those people, too, until I bought non-latex kitchen gloves and now I can touch whatever I want and look like a cast member of CSI while I do.

You have to make your chicken-mush into nuggets by taking some and smooshing it into a vaguely nuggety shaped glob.

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After that, you plop the little buggers into a bowl of lightly whisked egg-yolk. I do the separating of the whites and the yolks by hand, which I find super easy (especially with my magic golves of not-grodiness.) Immediately put them into a plate or bowl with a mixture of bread crumbs and parsley. (My breadcrumbs are Walmart generic and my pretty darn good parsley flakes are the Aldi brand.) If you check that link above to the original recipe she uses homemade breadcrumbs.

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I don’t live in a world of homemade breadcrumbs. I bet she does crafts. I will probably construct a complete fantasy world where she lives being amazing. All because of homemade bread crumbs. Words have power.

Okay, quick interlude. I know how to make homemade breadcrumbs. It’s just the thought of even having bread that went stale or letting bread go stale. I mean, my family growing up only let bread go stale on Thanksgiving and eventually my great-grandmother was like, “I don’t have time to wait for this bread to go stale on its own, let’s put it in the oven at like one degree for a hundred hours because that will save time.” You know what saves time for me on Thanksgiving? Bags of breadcrumbs. That’s just who I am.

So now that we’ve gotten my confessional out of the way, let’s move on to the part where I slowly kill my children by feeding them fried foods in an attempt to make sure they are greasy and fat when they get older, thus making me less likely to become a grandmother too soon.

We use peanut oil. I don’t know why, it was Mr. Brickies idea. Something about a smoke point. He probably said more but after smoke point I started giggling and making “Dude, Where’s My Car jokes.”  I put about a half inch into the pan. Also note I’m killing my family by using a dented nonstick pan because carcinogens or chemicals or something.

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Here they are, fresh from the oil right before I pat them down to get the excess oil off. They were crunchy and sort of tasty. The salt/pepper/garlic/onion didn’t really season it enough for my liking. I thought they were mostly bland. Which makes them great for dipping, just like a real nugget. I think. I’m not sure if that’s actually the point.IMG_3192

Side dishes were broccoli and homemade creamed corn. It was actually leftover regular corn but I put a splash of half and half and some flour in it and no one realized they were leftovers. (I’m not kidding.) I guess maybe I’m not trying to kill my kids if I’m insisting on two vegetables every night.

Oh wait, I made them homemade honey mustard for dipping. Honey, Miracle Whip, and Dijon Mustard. (1/2C Miracle Whip, 1/2C Honey, and 1/4C Dijon Mustard). It was tasty.

Here’s a recipe rundown if you want it:

Stuff You Need

  • Chicken Thighs (I think I used 2lbs. Mr. Brickie ate leftovers from everyone else. I could have used 1lb. and been fine but he’s a growing boy or something I guess.
  • Onion or Onion Powder
  • Garlic or Garlic Powder
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Breadcrumbs (however you want to make that happen)
  • Egg yolks (I saved all the whites and am making them into scrambled half-eggs in the morning for the girls for breakfast. Waste not or you’re dumb. Or wasteful.
  • Frying Pan
  • Oil
  • Paper towels

Grind up the chicken, spice up the chicken, make patty, dip in egg yolk, flop around in breadcrumb/parsley mixture, fry it up.

Watch your kids look at you as if you were the most amazing human being in the world because you made chicken nuggets and that’s pretty much the height of human creation in the mind of the average 8 year old.

Don’t worry. This isn’t turning into a food blog. I’m just sharing what’s up while I try to formulate an update about the budget that doesn’t make me look like a giant tool and an even more giant failure. It’s coming. Soon.

Crock-Pot Ground Beef Stew Recipe Madness

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The past few nights have been rough.

I would watch the preschooler during the day while Mr. Brickie worked. Then, Mr. Brickie would come home and take care of the kids while I worked.

Needless to say, he hates this arrangement.

When we first got together he was all, “I’m so liberal when it comes to relationships. ehrmagherd I would never have a problem with you working or doing whatever you wanted to.”

If he was the deep, introspective, know-thyself type he would have said, “I really don’t want to have a problem with you working but I will always be naturally happier when I am the one working and allowing you and our children to have leisure time. Also, until I can afford to provide a maid for my precious and wonderful family, can you keep the house clean while you’re at it?”

So tonight I’m giving us both the evening off. I am not going to work and I already have dinner in the crock pot so I don’t have to cook and he doesn’t have to cook.

Tonight’s Dinner: Slow Cooker Ground Beef Stew (a variation)

First, you’ll need to get some stuff out and lay it all over your counter. Or not. I cook that way because I just want to have everything at the ready when the cooking starts. I put things away when I’m done using them, so there’s really no extra mess with this method. Feel free to substitute willy-nilly as long as you sniff your herbs first to make sure the flavors match up and won’t come out like crap.

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Stuff List

  • Marjoram
  • Sage (don’t really use this, I mixed up the bottles. I thought it was the…
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper (Mine is Great Value because I’m hoity toity like that!)
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • A pound of ground beef of whatever kind you want.
  • 4 peeled and diced potatoes.
  • Can of Cream of Mushroom soup (or you can use homemade)
  • Corn, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, tomatoes, broth (I use fresh celery and garlic, process the onion with the cup attachment on my 2 cup immersion blender and get chopped garlic in a jar and my corn was from a can. My broth was a cup of water and a beef bullion cube. I used a can of diced tomatoes. You do you.)

Brown the ground beef in a pan. I know it seems stupid to use pans and cook so you can put some stuff all up in a slow cooker and then have to wait four hours after you already cooked in order to see the fruits (or stew) of your labor but you know what, I assume the original recipe calls for it that way because of some food-borne disease. I don’t mess with red meat.

While the meat is browning shake some spices on it. All the ones you took out (hopefully no sage but if you made the same mistake as I did just go with it). Remember, marjoram is powerful, powerful stuff so use a light hand for shaking. Keep sniffing the pan. When it smells awesome you can be done. Keep going until the meat is brown.

At this point, I take the beef out with a spoon and plop it right over into the Crock-Pot insert thingy. I leave the grease in because it’s flavor and really, there’s just not that much. I put the garlic, pulverized onion, carrot slices, pulverized celery (I threw that stalk in with the onions. I was SO over chopping after that carrot) and garlic in the grease in the pan and let it kind of sweat/cook/marinade/hang out for five or so minutes until the flavor is all over them and then I dump that whole mess into the Crock-Pot.

Next you dump your can of corn, can of tomato paste, diced potatoes, cup of water, and bullion cube in the crock. It looks something like this.

ground-beef-stew-1

Gross, right?

Three hours later it looks like this:

ground-beef-stew-2

Still not looking like the belle of the ball, but a lot more like stew than that first picture would lead you to believe.

The finished stew looks like this:

ground-beef-stew-final

It smells divine, and it’s like potpourri for three rooms of my house right now. Also, it’s making me really hungry. We are going to serve it with biscuits and call it a day.

Prep time on this was around a half hour and cook time is going to be six hours on low. Everything is safe to consume once it’s in the crock pot (because you already browned the beef) and I’m pretty sure the entire six hours is just to cook the diced potatoes.

So when my husband gets home I get to be all, “Oh, hey babe, guess what I did. I scheduled zero writing jobs for tonight and started dinner at, like, eleven this morning. Feel loved yet?”

He will. I promise you he will. He will tell you it’s because he was cold all day (he works outside most of the time) and is really looking forward to stew. You and I know better. It’s because I accidentally married someone who wants to be all traditional and junk.

There are far worse problems to have.