Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

If you are in the mood for a little Chinese food, reward your taste buds with this beef and broccoli dish.

Tastes like your ordered out!

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 lbs. top round steak, beef chuck roast, or flank steak.
    I learned that the meat will make a difference, so I recommend going with the flank steak especially if you can get it on sale.  Beef chuck roast works well too.
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets or one frozen bag
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • Rice (4 Servings)
  • 4 tbsp. of water

To Cook:

Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray and then dump in the following ingredients: meat, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, olive or sesame oil, garlic, and chili flakes.

Cook on low for 3-4 hours in the crockpot.

Mix together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of water and then dump into the crockpot, along with the broccoli.

Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.

Prepare rice separately and serve entrée over the rice.

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And, if you would like to save (freeze) for later, use these instructions:

  • In large freezer bag 1, put meat, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, olive or sesame oil, garlic, and chili flakes.
  • Separately, be sure to have frozen bag of broccoli florets, cornstarch, and rice on hand.
  • Put freezer bag 1 and the bag of broccoli in the refrigerator the night before to defrost.
  • Follow the above cooking instructions.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup

One word: Delicious!  

I absolutely loved this soup and cannot believe how easy it was to make. It is always a hit when the entire family (cough, cough — my boys) likes it AND asks for seconds. Best of all, it is healthy.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 (12oz) bottle of beer
    I ended up switching the beer to a pilsner — Baltimore’s Heavy Seas (good choice!)
  • Can of chili beans, rinsed
  • Can of black beans, rinsed
  • 8 ounces of salsa (half of 16 ounce jar)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
    I used one regular can and one can with green chilies:
    I originally was going to use just one can but added the second
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning mix
    We use a lot of seasoning mix, so I buy a large bottle of Old El Paso Seasoning, Taco, 6.25-ounce
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips

To Prepare:

Pay close attention, it is very tricky . . .not!  You take all of the above ingredients and DUMP them in a crockpot.  Then, cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours. That’s it.
The only notes are (1) be sure to drain the beans and corn first and (2) make sure that the chicken is submerged in the sauce.  (See photo — the chicken is soaked deeply in the yumminess of the ingredients).

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And, if you would like to save (freeze) for later, use these instructions:

  • In large freezer bag 1, put in the chopped onions, corn (drain first), beer, chili beans (rinse first), black beans (rinse first), salsa, and diced tomatoes.
  • In large freezer bag 2, put in your two chicken breasts.

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How Gratitude Brings Abundance

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

                                     – Oprah Winfrey

 

There is a funny thing about gratitude—the more you are grateful, the more you will be given things to be grateful for. It may sound a little naïve to think, but having a mindset of gratitude WILL produce amazing (and often surprising) results.

It is this simple: What you think about you bring about. If you are dwelling in negativity and thinking about all the things that you are lacking, then you are not available to receive the ggood. Be available. Be positive. It is this grateful energy that will attract others to you. And, most importantly, YOU will feel better. Gratitude is what will allow you to be excited, find joy, see possibilities, and have renewed energy.

Gratitude is a habit and it can be learned. The more you consciously practice being grateful, the easier it becomes. It will just become part of your personality—do you want to be a glass-half-full or half-empty person?

Pay attention to your thoughts and words. If you find yourself complaining (glass half-empty mindset), try turning that complaint into something positive (glass half-full mind set).

Practice being grateful on a regular basis; you will be amazed at the doors that will open and all the opportunities that will appear.

 

How to Write a Powerful Positive Affirmation

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What You THINK about you BRING about.

Words are powerful. They can hurt. They can heal. This posting is about making our words work for us rather than against us. How many times have you told yourself: “I’m fat” or “I look awful” or even “What was I thinking”?

Let me ask you: WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO SOMEONE ELSE?   Probably not.

So, why would you say that to yourself?!

This blog post is about building ourselves up with Positive Affirmations. Positive Affirmations are conclusive statements written in the PRESENT TENSE. They do not contain words – which seem positive –  such as “I hope to” or “I want to”.  That is too wishful.  Positive affirmations are absolutes. They contain statements such as:

“I AM”

Your positive affirmation should be a statement of what IS happening or what WILL happen, even if it hasn’t happened yet.  Seriously!  Even if it hasn’t happened yet because that is the purpose. Positive affirmations when read and stated out loud send instructions to your brain. What you say to yourself REGISTERS in your brain.  What you say about yourself creates your perception AND your reality. As you work on achieving your goals, use positive affirmations to reinforce the end results that you expect to achieve.

Positive affirmations are about seeing the end/your goal/final outcome.

One common mistake made when writing positive affirmation is the use of negative words. In other words, negative words couched around positive words. For example, do not say something like:  I AM NOT FAT.   Not and Fat are both negatives.  And. . .Umm, that word “fat” — that is what your brain is hearing.  Fat. Fat. Fat.  INSTEAD, change it to: “Skinny” or “Tone” or both.

I am skinny and tone. I look good!

Yep, that’s what you need to be telling yourself.

Make time in your day to read your positive affirmations, especially when working on your individual goals.  It is this affirmation that will help keep you focused.  As funny as that Saturday Night Live skit with Stuart Smalley is (it is one of my favorites!), there is truth. These repeated messages will reinforce what needs to happen in your life.

 

10 Simple Things You Can Do to be More Productive

Life can sometimes feel overwhelming, but there are simple things that you can do to make yourself feel and be more productive.  For starters, take a deep breath and then exhale away your anxiety.  Integrate the following easy habits into your life and see your productivity soar.

1. Wake up in the morning with a good S T R E T C H.

Try it now: If you are standing, raise your arms over your head and reach up as high as you can go. You can even use the top of a door frame for support. If you are sitting, extend your legs and stretch them as long as you can make them. Doesn’t that feel good?  Now try this first thing in the morning–you will feel great.


2. Make your bed as soon as you get up.

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This simple morning ritual will immediately have you feeling as if you already accomplished something. Plus, a nicely-made bed instantly relaxes the mind. It also helps you fall asleep easier — I mean why fight with your sheets from an unmade bed? There is just something from a cozy bed to give you a good night’s rest. . .which brings me to number 3.


3. Get a good night’s rest.

Get in the practice of going to bed before 10 p.m. Use that time as a bedtime goal. Sure, you can read in bed — that helps you fall asleep anyway — but BE IN BED by 10 p.m.  Being well-rested is so integral to one’s ability to be focused, clear-headed, and productive.


4. Meditate or be still.

Spend at least 10 – 15 minutes in the morning taking time to meditate or be still. This helps calm the brain and eliminates the morning frenzy and frantic feeling. This silence also allows for insight and new-found clarity.


5. Read a positive affirmation about yourself OUT LOUD.

Create a positive affirmation that reinforces your goals. (Click here for how to effectively create positive affirmations.) Be your best friend and not your worst enemy–what you say about yourself ultimately comes true.


6. Listen to inspirational interviews or segments on your way to work.

Be inspired by others’ greatness. Listen to stories, interviews, and segments about successful people as they share their insight about accomplishing goals. Positivity breeds positivity.


7. Tackle the hardest thing on your to-do list first.

Procrastination is productivity’s worst enemy. Do not put off what you can do now. Pick the one item that is most challenging and tackle it head on.  Often people get caught up on the little things as a way of avoiding the big things. Doing the big thing will motivate you to proceed with your other action steps.


8. Maximize your peak times.

Everyone has them–peak times and down times. A peak time is the time of day when you feel most awake, focused, and energized. A down time is when you find yourself crashing and not being as effective. Recognize your peak and down times and use them appropriately. Your peak times should be used for more challenging tasks and your down-times can be spent doing more mundane tasks (e.g., stuffing envelopes).


9. Get your steps in creatively.

Get away from your desk and avoid always being stationary. Park your car far away from the entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk a few laps around the parking lot at cc19b1, respond to messages from work colleagues in person rather than by phone.  Think of ways in which you can get up and walk. This physical break is necessary to refuel.

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10. End your day with a to-do list.

Do not leave work until you have written out your to-do list for the next day. Give yourself time-allotments: write out when and for how long you will work on these items. Have your scheduled meetings listed as well. Just having a plan for the next day will allow you to — for the most part — leave the work stress at work.

I appreciate your feedback: Please scroll down to the comments bar and give me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!  Also, I would be grateful if you would click any of the share buttons below and/or follow me on Pinterest. Click here for all my pins.  I am grateful for your support!  Thank you for visiting!

How to Tap Into Your Creativity

I often say that it is a shame that we have to grow up. Children live and breathe creativity. They play, explore, and are curious about the world. Unfortunately, as we get older life gets hectic and we eventually lose our sense of imagination and innovation. Use these tips to tap into your creativity—trust your crazy ideas and explore them.

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Take a hike through the woods.

Nature has a calming effect that can lower the blood pressure and promote a sense of peace.

Grab crayons or colored pencils and have at it.

Draw and doodle away using adult coloring books such as Adult Coloring Book: Mandalas to awaken your inner child.

Listen to the sound of crashing waves or rain pitter-pattering on the roof.

I am a huge proponent of the Rain-Rain app which provides various relaxing white-noises. Crashing Waves is my favorite. Whenever I need total peace and want to hear the sound of the ocean–since I do not have my dream ocean-front property yet–I listen to this app. It helps calm me and facilitates my writing.

Meditate or, at the very least, take the time to be still.

Listen to your inner voice and follow your heart. You know best what will ignite your creativity; sometimes you just need to slow down enough to listen.

Reflect on your childhood.

What was it that you liked to do or play? Did you pretend to be a detective, put on plays, or perform scientific experiments? As children, we naturally gravitate to the activities that hone our special gifts. Pursue those activities again and see if they still provide pleasure and enjoyment.

Keep a journal.

There are no rules for journaling. Just write. Anything and everything that comes to you–your thoughts, ideas, memories, dreams.

Work at being creative every day.

Creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised. The more you do, the easier it becomes.

Spend time on Pinterest.

Check out the pins and see what topics interest you. Pinterest is a smorgasbord of creative ideas.

Read a fiction book.

Reading fiction often inspires my own writing.  I want to soak up and learn from these writers—evaluate their writing tone, voice, and style.

Read non-fiction books.

Autobiographies are excellent sources of inspiration. Hearing successful people share how they accomplished their dreams can encourage you to go after your own dreams.  Non-fiction books can also be instructional and can teach you how to accomplish your own goals.

Grab legos, lincoln logs, or blocks and build, build, build.

Sit on the floor with a pile of blocks and create with abandon. This type of playing teaches you how to visualize and follow-through on that vision. It is creativity and goal-achievement at its finest.

Lastly, GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to be creative, let-loose, be open, and PLAY!

 

I appreciate your feedback: Please scroll down to the comments bar and give me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!  Also, I would be grateful if you would click any of the share buttons below and/or follow me on Pinterest. Click here for all my pins.  I am grateful for your support!  Thank you for visiting!

8 Ways to Drink More Water

Water – it does a body good.  I can honestly say that I have noticed a positive difference with my increased water intake.  On the flip side, I can also tell when I am dehydrated.

Let me start with the positive:  water makes me feel full. I snack less and eat smaller portions when I consume water all day. Seriously.  That in itself is enough for me to drink water. I also notice that I am more energized and feel less sluggish, which results in me sleeping better throughout the night.  While I cannot provide scientific proof of the benefits of water — other than repeat what the experts say — I am able share my experience.  I function much better with water!

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When I do not drink enough water, I feel run down. I can literally hear ringing in my ears and my bones cracking.  My body is not what it used to be, so it doesn’t take much to feel bad.  Drinking water is one of the few healthy habits that seems manageable to me.

It wasn’t always though.

Using the following tricks I have been able to make water consumption more enjoyable–and tasty.  The biggest help for me is to keep my WATER WITHIN REACH. If I have a water bottle beside me, I will drink it.  I am all about easy access.

1. Add a Splash of Lemon

Don’t like the taste of water? No problem, add some lemon and your taste buds will thank you. You can slice up a lemon in advance and store the slices for later. Or, for lemon water on the go, you can drop in a packet of True Lemon—my latest, favorite discovery. No mess, no cutting, and only 5 calories. I love these packets. Since discovering them, I have been drinking so much more water. There are other flavors too—True Lime Bulk Pack, 500 Count (Net Wt .88lbs), True Orange Bulk Pack, 500 Count, and True Grapefruit Bulk Pack, 500 Count.

True Lemon Bulk Pack, 500 Count


2. Use it as a Means to Lose Weight

Drink a glass of water before every meal as a way to suppress your appetite. You will feel fuller faster, making it easier to eat less. If losing weight is one of your goals than this trick will allow you to accomplish two goals at once. Water aids your digestion as well—an added bonus.


3. Get a 64-, 32-, or 28-Ounce Water Bottle


Fill up a 64-, 32-, or 28-ounce bottle with water to keep you accountable. Once the bottle is empty, you will know that you have met (or working to meet) your water quota. This is the one I use regularly: Contigo Shake & Go Fit Shaker Bottle, 28oz, Carolina Blue and I love it. Since it is 28 ounces, I try to refill it and finish it three times by the end of the day.  It can also be used for protein shakes or mixing the above-mentioned True Lemon packets.


4. Fizz it Up

If you are not a fan of water, try the taste of sparkling water. Something about the bubbles makes the water much more refreshing. I am grateful for my Samsung Refrigerator that contains a sparkling water capability. One push of a button and I have a glass of sparkling water at my disposal. The refrigerator contains SodaStream 60-Liter Carbonator-Spare Cylinder canisters that need to be replaced when empty. Be sure to keep a spare canister on hand—take it from someone who relies on her seltzer water. When the canister is empty and I do not have a replacement, my water intake decreases significantly.


5. Make it Fancy

Drink your water in a wine glass. You know that sparkling water I love? I like to put it in a large wine glass to really incentivize my water drinking. (It also reduces my wine intake J ). Wine always tastes better in a large wine glass and so will your water.


6. Use Water to Boost your Metabolism

Two of your eight glasses of water will be complete with this tip. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and right before bed. It will help make for an energized morning and a restful evening.


7. Use a Menu Tracker
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Track your eating, exercise, and water consumption with a menu tracker such as the one shown here. Click form below to receive a free copy. The menu tracker keeps you accountable; you may be surprised how much you eat and little you drink.

 


8. Fruit Infused Water Bottle 

Try drinking your water out of a fruit-infused water bottle.  My boys find it especially cool to drink with fruit inside their water. It makes the water tasty and fun.

Fruit Infuser Water Bottle 25 oz Leak Proof Flip-top Sport Water Bottle BPA-Free Tritan 25 Oz (Pink)

I appreciate your feedback: Please scroll down to the comments bar and give me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!  Also, I would be grateful if you would click any of the share buttons below and/or follow me on Pinterest. Click here for all my pins.  I am grateful for your support!  Thank you for visiting!

10 Ways to Get Rid of Paper Clutter–Including Your Kids’ Schoolwork

 

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Paper is like bunny rabbits — it reproduces and reproduces AND leaves little piles everywhere.  My house is often overtaken by this paper. I give this paper a good fight, but it is a mighty force. Thank goodness, I have been able to learn a few fighting tricks along the way. The tips below have helped me combat this infuriating thing called PAPER.

Helpful Hints:

1. Check the mail over a recycling bin.  

The mail can overtake your home if you are not careful. Be sure to check your mail immediately after retrieving from the mail box. As you read the mail, give each piece of mail a home.  A recycling bin (sadly) is where most of my mail goes.


2. Use a spiral pocket notebook.


I love, love having a portfolio of pocket folders at my disposal such as this  C-Line 8-Pocket Spiral-Bound Poly Portfolio, Letter Size, 1 Portfolio, Color May Vary (33080).  Paperwork that needs to be EASILY ACCESSIBLE (e.g., bills, children’s school reminders) can be filed and stored in an easy-to-get-at location for when needed.


3. Take a photo—it will last longer.

Every week, my son brings home a letter to us. It is his weekly account of what he did that week in school. I love reading them; some of them are just priceless!  [Did you catch the part about them being WEEKLY though?]  Take those letters and add it to the other school work and the paperwork is amazingly, crazily, overwhelmingly A LOT!
So, I take a photo of those priceless papers and store them online in a computer file.

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Even in school, the kids are learning about setting goals and negative and positive self-talk!  This is a sample of the “priceless” school paperwork saved electronically.

4. Convert electronic images into Memory Books.

Create a memory book of your children’s artwork, report cards, photos, school work—all the paperwork that you have captured by photo.  Your kids will treasure it!


5. Store children’s artwork in a frame.

 Use a frame such as the one pictured here (click photo for details) to frame your children’s artwork. The beauty of the frame is that you can rotate artwork with newer creations and store older artwork in the frame itself. I recommend selecting a frame that does NOT have a mat — even thought it is more attractive — so that it is easier to frequently update.

Craig Frames 1WB3BK 8.5 by 11-Inch Picture Frame, Smooth Wrap Finish, 1-Inch Wide, Black


6. Clear the homework away with one fell swoop.

I don’t know where your children do their homework, but mine do it on the kitchen table—the E N T I R E kitchen table. Our nightly routine when dinner is ready is to shout, “Someone clear the table. Get your homework off the table.”  However, my newest discovery is plastic baskets with handles — one for each child. My children can dump their homework in the baskets and even stick the whole basket in their back pack. However, I just saw these bins (also sized to fit in backpack).  They should do the trick too — I may switch.

Storex Book Bins, 11-Inch, Assorted Colors, 6 Bins (70110U06C) or Plastic storage basket with handles-Package Quantity,12.


7. Create a command center.

Mail, school work, meals for the week, keys, calendars, and electronics all have a home in this newly-created command center.  This has always been our informal command center. It just happened to also be the place where piles of “stuff” grew taller and taller.  Now we have a system so that everything has a home and a purpose.


8.  Pay bills electronically.

Eliminate paper bills by scheduling your payments to be made automatically each month. Every monthly bill has been set up to be paid online on the date scheduled. If hard copy bills are mailed to us, we know that — most likely — we can just shred it.


9. Invest in a shredder.

Some paperwork is too sensitive to be left in the hands of a trash can or recycling bin. Credit card statements or credit offers, for example, should be shredded. There is just something stress-relieving about shredding too. Maybe its the sound of the shredding . . . hmmm, or maybe it’s just me.  You can place the shredder in a tall decorative basket too!

AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket


10. Invest in decorative boxes.

When all else fails, take advantage of decorative boxes to hide the clutter. They can make unsightly piles look so much more appealing. Just be sure to TACKLE the pile later.

Snap-N-Store Letter and Legal File Box, Interior Dimensions 9.5 x 14.75 x 12.25 Inches, Black and White Scroll Design (SNS01835)

 

 

I appreciate your feedback: Please scroll down to the comments bar and give me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!  Also, I would be grateful if you would click any of the share buttons below and/or follow me on Pinterest. Click here for all my pins.  I am grateful for your support!  Thank you for visiting!


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