Winning My First Chili Contest

One thing I rather like to do as a housewife is make new recipes. Last year I found this amazing recipe for spicy white chicken chili. Today, M’s work held a chili contest and he asked me to make this chili for it. Lo and behold it won! By a landslide! The flavor is yummy and savory. It’s quick to put together. It’s great with cornbread.

Find the original post (outside link) on The Cookie Rookie here.

In our house we like it SPICY so I’ll usually put 4+ jalapenos in there, seeds and all, and often will add a teaspoon or so of ghost pepper powder.

Spicy White Chicken Chili

5-6cups chicken broth (I use 2-3 bullion cubes)
6cups shredded chicken (I use about two chicken breasts)
2 15oz cans white beans, drained
8oz salsa verde (About half a salsa jar)
1tbsp oil
1tsp chili powder (I use chipotle pepper instead for a spicier kick)
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic (or however much feels right)
2 jalapenos diced
1 poblano or anaheim pepper (I often omit this)

  1. Heat onions, peppers, garlic, and oil in skillet until onions are transparent.
  2. Add everything to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook ~10minutes.
  3. Serve with cornbread to sop up all that yummy goodness.


Culling Pins on Pinterest

Pinterest is a wealth of information and ideas and should be a useful tool. But sometimes we get in the habit of pinning something to look at later and then never get back to it. Sometimes, we hunt through all of our boards for that one thing we pinned two months ago, only to not find it. To make finding things easier, and keep pinterest as a tool, it’s best to occasionally declutter your pins. Let’s see how.

First, decide on limits. How many pins do you want? Is there a number that would seem excessive? How many pins per board? How many boards?

Frankly, I think it’s silly (for me) to have boards with under 20 pins on them. Ultimately, I want to keep my pins under 2,000. This is still a number where I’ll like most of the pins, but it still looks like I’m active on pinterest.

Once you have your limits set, it’s time to start purging. I like to start with my largest boards first. Using the “move” button at the top of the page, select pins that you obviously don’t want anymore and delete them. Use the “move” button for groups or the “edit” button on individual pins to put them on the boards they truly belong on.

Now I know I just said set limits on the number of boards, but see if your larger boards could be split up. Maybe you have 70 1950’s dresses under your “1900’s Fashion” board. You might consider starting a new board for this. Also, if you want to see all pins of a certain type, creating a new temporary board for them might be easier than scrolling through the pages.

Make easy decisions first. If you can’t remember what something is and you haven’t opened it in months, ask yourself “If I was looking for this information, would I remember I already pinned it?” If no, then it’s probably safe to delete the pin.

Set realistic expectations for your pins. If you know you aren’t going to work on X hobby  in the next few months or year, why are you saving all the pins from it? I’m very guilty of pinning a lot of crochet tutorials, but I know I’m not going to crochet anything in the next year, and certainly won’t work on something new (I prefer sewing). So why do I have thirty crochet pins? Ask yourself the same question and see if there are unrealistic expectation pins you can get rid of.

Go through the boards where you won’t have to click on the links that often. Scenery boards, dresses, decorations, that sort of stuff that doesn’t require a lot of reading is easier to get through first. Then when you have time you can start clicking on things. (If you do it earlier, you’ll spiral into a reading loop and not a declutter loop.)

Go through the pins you have to look at if there are only a few of those type on a given board.

Start working on the harder boards. For me this is my “Hatchet/Bush craft” board. No I don’t do bush craft, I don’t even like to camp. But it is still the board with the most pins because I like to pretend I’m a bush craft person. 95% of those pins are useless/irrelevant to me, but I love most of them. So it’s a hard board to cull.

If a board is hard to go through, start at the bottom of the page and work your way up. The bottom pins are the oldest ones and you may have forgotten about some of them or changed your mind about them. Since you don’t always see them, they may be easier to go through, rather than the ones up top that you pinned yesterday.

Again, don’t be afraid to make temporary boards to help you eliminate some stuff.

~*~Personal Example (PE): Hatchet Board. Okay so I’ve made a temporary log cabin board because I’ve got almost 50 of those and I’ll go through them in a bit. Then let’s eliminate these things I really truly don’t want or care about – like the umpteenth tarp shelter infograph. And put the 10 or so pins that go into homesteading into homesteading. Okay, now to some of the harder work. The board is supposed to give me ideas for my “Lakeside Pioneers” adventure games, not necessarily skills I want to use in real life. So I’ll just quickly read this article on identifying flint. That link is really a hand drawing wikihow. Not overly useful anyways and I certainly won’t be going back to it so it can be deleted. Continuing on. Hatchet Starting pins: 189. Hatchet Ending Pins: 76. Excellent! ~*~

Use the old expression “If I found this randomly, would I pin again?”

Get rid of broken links or links that go to a splash page that no longer contains the information in your original pin (if you really really want that information, hunt through the website to find the permanent link to that original pin and pin that instead).

Use reliable sources. I don’t really trust Buzzfeed to tell me how to do wilderness survival, but I do trust Outdoorsmen.  So most of the Buzzfeed articles on my Hatchet board are being tossed.

When you want to check your progress, you’ll have to leave pinterest and navigate back to your boards to see how many pins have been removed. A bit cumbersome. Spend some time going through your pins and watch how helpful pinterest becomes again.


More personal examples:

~*~ Oh dear. My “Shinies!” board. Starting at 107. I’d like to get this around 70 if I can. Shinies apparently also includes hot guys, cute animals, and wedding dresses that can’t be on my wedding board right now (since I’m using if for realsies and not for dreaming). I deleted 32 pins but then moved a few more of those cute animals onto the board.  Ending number: 80. Good enough. How many pins total am I down to? 2,264. It’s slow going.

~*~ “Other Historic” the catchall for things that don’t fall under regency or civil war or 1900s. Start: 138. End: 91.

~*~ “Regency” I love this time period. Starts with 147. I hope to eliminate 20 pins. This board was one of the main reasons I joined pinterest and I continue to love it. But I haven’t been looking at it. Deleted 48. End: 99

~*~”Scenery” Start: 130. End: 80 Total Pins: 2,119. I’m getting close to being under 2000 again. I’d be content enough to get under 2100. Also, I’d like to eliminate a board.

~*~”Gardening” Not to be confused with landscaping. I already built my planter bed and I’m sucking at growing vegetables, so let’s see how many of these I can get rid of. Start: 158. And now 104. Much better. Plus that puts me back down under 2000 pins.

Garden Goals 2018

Last year marked my first time growing fruits and vegetables. It was a steep learning curve filled with ups and downs (a lot of downs) but it was enjoyable and fulfilling. After successfully growing bell peppers, jalapenos, and zucchini, I took the winter off to decide if this was something I wanted to continue pursuing. I do. For another year at least. So here are some of my garden goals for 2018 (and a few nice backyard goals as well). [California, US Hardiness Zone 9B, Western Sunset #14, suburban neighborhood, less than 1/4 acre to plant on]

  1. Grow more plants. I want to grow several new types of plants this year. This does not apply to zucchini which I’ll only plant two of – four was just too many last year.
    1. Peas or Beans – Just to say I can and for an excuse to buy a trellis
    2. Tomato – Only one plant since M doesn’t care for tomatoes. I only want to grow one because I feel you aren’t a vegetable gardener until you’ve tried growing tomatoes.
    3. Pumpkins – Last year the aphids got to them and I sort of gave up. I’d like to at least get a green pumpkin off them this year.
    4. Strawberries – I want to try making one of those vertical towers to grow these in.
    5. Habeneros – My seeds grew last year but never blossomed. Time to try again.
    6. Bell peppers – Okay so I grew these last year (and I’m trying hydroponically growing them right now). I planted them in March and they didn’t fruit until September. The fruits I got were tiny (my normal 4 pepper batch of fajitas took 7 peppers) and never turned colors even though I planted non-green peppers. I hope to be more successful this year, maybe get a few before late June and then ripen some in September?
  2. Improve my fence border planter beds.
    1. Lavender – Last year I planted two lavender plants that never bloomed again but are still alive. I’d like to plant a few more (perhaps a different variety that will work in my yard?) along the back wall and a couple on each of the other two sides. The holes are hard to dig so this may take awhile.
    2. Alyssum – These are the little white and purple flowers that are prolific in Californian landscaping. They require little water, less upkeep, and they spread rather easily. I bought a pack late last year, watered it, then tried to pull the plants out thus destroying one of six plants. I rage quit that day and stopped watering the alyssum (still in it’s original pack) for two weeks. They baked in our 100+degree summer weather and only a few tiny bits of green were left. I started watering them again and now, during winter, they are outgrowing their original container. So I’ll plant those and buy a few more packs for my planter bed.
    3. Mulch and weed mat – I keep meaning to level the planters, lay down weed mat, and then mulch the beds. Been meaning to for three years now.
  3. Prune trees – Chinese Tallow trees are the worst. Prune liberally.
  4. Create second smaller planter bed with wood bottom for more veggies and to deter some bugs
  5. Improve my drip irrigation system
  6. Create “cage” to prevent local cats from getting into veggies. Create moveable sunshade for my poor bell peppers.
  7. Mulch the unused side yard – Requires cleaning out the year’s worth of weeds, leveling, removing old mulch, and laying down new mulch.
  8. Improve my compost pile. I tried starting one but I never have enough brown matter for the pile. Also I hate worms and bugs so it has to be closed in.
  9. Pavers/Stepping stones – Originally I wanted to redo our patio and a lot of our wedding money was going to go towards that. I’ve since decided pavers and stepping stones would be more cost effective so I’ll get a pallet and put them around the beds and yard.
  10. Finally, purchase a dehydrator or create a solar one so I can store up some of my veggies for winter.

All of this feels very ambitious though it doesn’t look it on paper. A great deal needs to be started in the next month or so (peas should be started soon for an April harvest). I have a loose goal to someday (maybe 2019?) grow 20% of our food (once I figure out what that looks like) so this is my next step.

What are your garden goals for 2018?

12 Tips for a Clean Home (the Lazy Way)

Turns out the hardest part of making a blog post is writing the introduction. I should have figured. In school I’d always write the body then the conclusion, then finally I’d write the introduction. Same with blog posts I guess so here is your bad introduction.

Here are some tips I use to keep my home tidy and clean.

3 Lazy Tips for a Clean Home
1) if it takes less than a minute or two, do it right away
2) never leave a room empty handed, never go up or down the stairs without returning something
3) make your bed

3 Slightly Less Lazy  Tips
1) Make a to-do list
2) Do one 10minute declutter/cleaning session per day
3) Accomplish one thing on your to do list

3 Regular Tips for a Clean Home
1) Have weekly chores (or daily ones)
2) Have a designated place for everything in your home, and return things to their spots when done with them
3) Multi task some small things- stuff in the oven? Clean the kitchen while waiting, commercial break? Fold some shirts. Microwaving something? Wipe down the counters or take out the trash

3 Hard Tips for a clean home:
1) Declutter/have less stuff
2) Spring clean/deep clean 2x/year
3) Host parties once a month. It’ll force you to clean so you can impress your guests

How to Look Productive (Even When You Are Not)

If you are a procrastinator (like me) and are lucky enough to be a housewife (or sole person home all day), you may find yourself with about ten minutes before hubby gets home and not a thing to show for having been home all day…after all, those video games were very entertaining all day and it’s only now, as he’s driving home, that you realize how lazy you actually are. While you know the truth, let’s try a few things to make it seem like you were busy and productive all day long.

  • Make the bed. Seriously, it makes the room feel so much cleaner and with a nice comforter, it only takes about two minutes to do.
  • Make piles -laundry piles or dishes piles. Put them in the hamper or dishwasher
  • Clear the counters. Quickly wipe the crumbs into your hand or the sink or even onto the floor. Put dishes in the dishwasher or stack nicely to the side of the sink
  • Have a fresh scent in the house – whether through candles, wax warmers, diffusers, or good food on the stove, making the house smell fresh tricks the brain into thinking it’s actually cleaner than it is. I prefer wax warmers myself.
  • Get out of your pajamas. Preferably throw on something a bit nicer (something you might have gone out with friends or to the store in) but try to look like you weren’t in your pjs eating chips and losing your 50th game of Mario Maker when he started home. Brush your teeth if you’re greeting someone with a kiss.
  • Take out the trash or any trash and recycling near overflowing. It’s quick it’s easy, it makes it smell cleaner, and who knows when you did it.
  • Throw their favorite drink in the fridge or freezer so it’s cold when they get home (or start a fresh pot of coffee or tea for them).
  • Turn off the tv. Turn off your computer games, your Netflix, possibly even your computer. If they see the tv/computer on, they’re going to see more of the mess because they’ll assume you’ve done nothing all day. It may be true, but shut off the electronics for the fifteen minutes he gets home and he’ll think they’ve been off for longer.


The things above can be done in about 10-15 minutes and should ideally be worked on throughout the day (but we’re procrastinators trying to look productive, right?). If you’ve got extra time and are still feeling productive why not try some of these quick fixes. (In any order, or order of importance to him, don’t waste your precious procrastinating energy on things that won’t have an impact.)

  • Dishes – do the ones that can’t go in the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher if the dinner stuff won’t be able to go in it. Put away dishes that are in the dry rack.
  • Along with the dishes (or separately for all I care) wipe down the counters with a sponge and make the sink look clean. Clean up any major spills on the stove or have them soaking to deal with later on.
  • Start dinner. If you are cooking when he comes in, he’s more likely to forgive a mess…especially if dinner is almost ready and he’s hungry. Even if it’s  just spaghetti, cooking will seem productive. It has the added benefit of the kitchen mess now seeming like a part of your dinner preparations and it’s okay you haven’t gotten there yet, because it looks like you just made the mess.
  • Sweep. Sweep the kitchen, bathroom (the one he uses), and the entry area. Extra extra points for vacuuming (but let’s face it, if you vacuum, you’re no longer a procrastinator, you actually are doing your stuff).
  • Declutter. Take ten minutes to declutter key surfaces focusing on the rooms your partner spends the most time in – the living room for tv and console games, the desks for computer games, and the bedroom nightstands and bathroom counter (not all bathroom counters, just the ones they use). Bonus points for cleaning up some of your area, especially if he’ll see it.
  • Fold and put away laundry. -I don’t mind this one, but I don’t have kids, so it’s easy. Ideally, have a load running in the dryer -seems like you’ve been working at it for a while.
  • Start and make progress on that thing you said you were going to do today. (And find a reason why it was more difficult than expected *wink wink*).

Most of these things can be done in under an hour but look for the best bang for your buck…I mean time.

The key is to look like you worked all day, or to have them come home and catch you *still* working on stuff. Go ahead and try it.

(The best policy is not to procrastinate and to get your chores and errands done early. These methods will probably only work for two or three sloth days before he notices all the other things not getting done. So use these on those sloth days, but then spend a day or two doing what you’re supposed to do).

(Also, I’m not advocating lying to your partner. I usually tell M how lazy I’ve been. The point is the house doesn’t look like I was lazy.)

What are some ways you fake being productive?

Happy New Year! 2018

Happy New Year! It is with great happiness and anticipation that I ring in the new year full of goals and opportunities. The start of a new month or a new year is always exciting as it is a calendar page without mistakes, without failure, and brimming with possibilities. The past year took me from stay-at-home-fiancé to stay-at-home-wife. It was a year full of ups and downs with me making grand plans to be the perfect housewife multiple times. I even completed a vintage week in an attempt to be “perfect”. The valuable lessons I learned are that I am very lazy and often procrastinate on my chores. I saw this as a failing for a long time. But then I realized, I don’t need to be perfect. I need to be good enough. It’s how I got through college. As long as my husband has food when he gets home most days and the house is fairly clean, I feel like a successful wife.

One of my goals this year (and this month) is to do the 30-day-housewife challenge inspired by Jenbutneverjenn and modified for my life. I have attempted this challenge before and have not gotten very far. However I have fine-tuned the schedule for my own usual routine and have identified the tasks I’ll find most challenging. I will post my own schedule around day four or five of the challenge. Oh and this challenge won’t include weekends. M feels guilty if I clean too much around him on the lazy weekends so I’ll keep weekends minimal and about him.

Edit: Happy Flu Year! While I had tons of goals and motivation to do a great many things this first day or two of the new year, none of them have yet come to pass. This is because everybody in my house got sick all at once. First one roommate, then another, then me. So for the last four days (several of which I was planning to write) it’s been all I could do to stay awake or even sit up. Today I finally feel well enough to sit – or rather, my back hurts with laying down too much. M has been wonderful taking care of me but I’m feeling guilty about all the things I should be doing. I can’t wait to be fully better and get my house back to normal. What I’m saying is right out the gate my blogging plans are on hold. But then, I have been trying to start this blog since November so a couple more days delay isn’t that big of a deal.

My first advice post “How to look productive even when you’re not” will come out later this week. Hope you all have a safe and wonderful new year.

Tell me, what are your 2018 resolutions? Do you believe in making resolutions?