Wendy/Larry's Chili

Hi friends,

I know...I know. Its been a long time since we've chatted. So much has happened in the past several months. This post would go on for days to tell you about it now but I'll share in future posts so stay tuned because for good or bad...I'm baaaaaaaack! :)

As my inaugural-sort of visit with you I wanted to share a recipe with you that has been popular around our house lately for a very special reason, which you'll understand in a minute.  My sweet mother-in-law, Larry has been in failing health the past couple years. She was in a skilled nursing center the last 18 months or so and just passed away in January.  It was such a huge loss for our family but a relief too that her suffering is over and we know she is exploring heaven on healthy legs that take her wherever she wants to go again.  Larry was an exceptionally special person. She was always cheerful, unless she was tearful with someone over their troubles (never her own) and she made friends wherever she went. I lost count of how many times I caught her walking flowers from her garden up to the dentist's office or homemade cake over to my parent's house, both over a mile from her house. She loved to walk! As a mother and grandmother, she was the tops. I remember one time we were getting ready to go on a fishing trip with my husband's family and we got to their house to head out. Her and my father-in-law were having a heated argument about putting her little red wagon on top of their little green Rabbit for walks with the grandkids while there. He said they absolutely were not roping it on top and taking it. Well, he did and they did.  Family and grandkids came first with Larry. This is Larry at my son and daughter-in-law's July 4th garden wedding at our house.

Losing Larry taught me one thing about death. You know how when people pass away, other people tell you they hope your memories will be a comfort to you? I've said that myself and meant it. But now, I understand it on a new level. I have so many wonderful memories of her, a lifetime of them since she came into my life when I was just 16. They randomly come to mind and I can't help but smile because SHE made me smile. Every day. I love her and I miss her but I'm happy thinking about her. My memories of her make my heart glad and I'm so thankful I got her for my mother-in-law. (By the way, for those who are wondering. Her name was Lorraine and when she was very little she told her parents she didn't like that name and wanted to be called "Larry" and so she always was our Larry. I laugh when I picture her 4 children giving their mother's name. )

When Larry was housebound or still eating at the nursing center, my husband and I took turns taking her whatever sounded good to her and eating with her. Nine times out of ten, she wanted Wendy's chili. She could have had anything she wanted but no, she wanted fast food chili. Simple girl, simple pleasures. She loved the stuff. So when I came across a recipe for it a couple weeks ago on Pinterest, I was tickled and wanted to give it a try. We like chili around here but I wouldn't say we LOVE chili. Well, we had this chili and it was life-changing if chili can be life-changing. It has a sweetness and a depth of flavor to it that is delicious. It makes a huge (2 really) pot but we kept eating it so none of it actually made it into the freezer the first time. Considering how much it makes and there's just two of us now, its safe to say we loved this chili! It wasn't a week before my husband was asking when we were going to have it again. I just made it again and froze 2 meals plus we ate it for dinner and had lunch leftovers.  One night, I had some brisket taco meat leftover and we threw that in. Delicious! I've made a couple minor amount adjustments but I'm so appreciative to April for sharing this recipe. She has a yummy looking blog - the French Dip Crescents are on my shopping list.

Chili (Wendy's Style)

4 lbs ground chuck, browned and drained
2 large onions, chopped small
4 green peppers, chopped small
4 celery stalks, chopped small
5 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 Tbsp jarred garlic)
2 cans Ranch Style beans, 15 oz, not drained
2 cans red kidney beans, 15 oz, not drained
2 cans Original Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, 10 oz
2 cans stewed tomatoes, 15 oz
4 cans plain tomato sauce, 15 sauce
2 packages McCormick mild Chili Seasoning mix (any brand really)

Lots of vegies! I tried it with even 5 green peppers and the vegie to meat ratio was getting off. Couldn't imagine using the 7 originally called for. Chop the vegies small or you end up with just a bite of vegie and not a combination of the chili flavors. I wish I would have chopped them a little smaller than in the picture here. I was experimenting with bigger pieces and I liked it better with smaller pieces like the first time I made it.

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. (I forgot to use my big lobster pot and ended up having to use a second dutch oven.) Simmer for 2-3 hours.

I served it with Tastfully Simple Beer Batter bread, something I always keep on hand. So easy to whip up and delicious!

I wish you all a big pot of this delicious chili and a wonderful Larry in your life!

Painted Side Table

Hi friends,

I picked up a good side table at a garage sale for just $40 and when I say I picked it up, I don't mean literally. This baby is h-e-a-v-y.  I wasn't a fan of its dark stain and I really don't like that inlaid wood look. My husband and dad threw a conniption fit when they heard I planned to paint over it.  For a half-a-second, I considered enhancing the compass design out of the inlay but since we live in beautiful but landlocked Colorado, the mariner theme doesn't really float here. Get it...float?  Hee hee. So anyway, it was going to be paint. I'm loving some of the color I see in blogland but I needed to play it safe with this new addition since she could only go one place right now in my house. White and black it was.

I sanded and then sanded some more on the top. I just roughed up the base since I was using a spray primer over everything and spray paint on the base. I flipped the little lady on her top and gave the base several light coats of Krylon black satin spray paint. When it was good and dry, I flipped it back over and protected the base with plastic. Then I brushed the top with a couple coats of white (Behr Moon Rise).  For the first time, I tried adding Floetrol to the canned paint (what do you call paint that's not spray?) and I thought it did a great job at keeping the brush strokes to a minimum. I will definitely use it again.

And speaking of shout outs, I gotta' give one to my new best friend, let's call her Spray Paint Handy Annie since I tossed the packaging and don't know what they are really called (sorry Rustoleum!)  All this spray painting has been making my fingers hurt (and if you're not thinking I just earned landscaping duty, do yourself a favor...)

I saw these sweet little gems hanging in the spray paint aisle (I know genius, right?) at Ace and thought they were worth the $4 to try. Oh my gosh, may be the best $4 I've ever spent and believe me I've spent a lot of $4.  You just squeeze the little black pinchers behind the cap to attach to the spray paint, no screwing on the can or anything. Couldn't be easier! I bought a second one the next time I was in just in case they were flimsy but both are still going strong after tons of spray painting. You gotta' try them. No more sore fingers or colored fingertips!

Alright back to our table; after painting the bottom and top, I gave the top a good 3 coats of Johnson Paste Wax for durability then brushed on MinWax Express Color Wiping Stain & Finish in Onyx in the crevices.

If I had it to do over again, this is the one thing I would change. I would thin down the wiping stain with some water or glaze before applying. the excess did not wipe off easily and I gave myself a good scare before turning to some mineral spirits which removed the excess without removing the white paint. Woooo. Crisis averted.

Isn't she pretty? I love her curves and she's just what that corner needed to hold up a lamp.