Quick and Easy Taco Soup

Hey there friends!!  Is the month of December as crazy and hectic for you as it is for us?? Between Christmas shopping, kids sports, Christmas programs, and Christmas parties I find it hard to find time to cook! But, after a while eating out gets old, and expensive.  

This week I whipped up one of our family favorites that is really so quick and simple – Taco Soup. 


Maybe you have your own version of this, but I get asked about it all the time (cuz it’s so easy), so I thought I would share.  

Several years back I was looking for a tortilla soup recipe, but everyone I found had ingredients I didn’t have and I was not going to the store.  In my search, I also stumbled across a couple of taco soup recipes.  So, I took a little bit from each one, based on what I had on hand, and came up with this.

Taco Soup

1 – 1 1/2 lb. ground beef OR 3 chicken breasts
1 can of corn
1 can of diced tomatoes OR rotel
1 can of black beans 
1 can of kidney beans
Taco seasoning

First step – cook the meat.  If you are using chicken I have the best tip for some of you!  Own a kitchenaid mixer?  


Put the cooked chicken in with the paddle attachment, turn on low and watch that chicken shred!!  So much easier!

Second step – dump everything in.  

this time I did not have rotel but I did have a can of green chilies, so I added that
Third step – stir and heat.  Everything in that pot is cooked, it just needs to heat.  🙂


The longer it cooks the better it tastes, because it gives time for the flavors to mix together.  But if you only have 30 minutes for it to simmer, no problem, still yummy.  I have also cooked this in the crockpot.  Works great.  I use this homemade taco seasoning (tweaked a bit – I don’t care for cumin) 

Don’t you love my fancy container 🙂
which I love because I can put in as much or as little as I want


 – plus I know exactly what’s in it.

This recipe really is fool proof!!  


We like ours with a little shredded cheddar cheese on top and tortilla chips!  YUM!!
Have a great weekend friends and enjoy!!

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Wreaths a Plenty

I had a moment to get crafty today and it felt so good.  Hot glue burns and all.  Other than getting the tree and outside lights up, no other Chirstmas decorations have been done yet.  I like to take my time, when the kids are at school and hubby is at work, so I can think straight and decide how I want things.  

Today I focused on the kitchen and the mantle. I’m going a little more simple this year. It is so hard for me not to layer on more sparkle, more ribbon, more bows, more fluff.  But, I just feel the need to keep these light and focus on The King.

Wreaths are always an easy way to bring some Christmas cheer.  But, they don’t always have to be the conventional store bought wreaths.  The wreath on my mantle for example, isn’t even a circle!


It’s a star!!  I used my chevron backdrop, and like last year hammered in part-way 5 nails for the 5 points of the star.  Then I simply wrapped simple straight garland from Dollar Tree around to make the star.  I used two garlands to make it nice and full. (I actually worked on this last night – that’s why the pics on the right on bad.  But, you get the idea.)


The center piece was actually an ornament I purchased from Hobby Lobby a few years ago and it usually lives on my front door.  But I thought I would change things up.  It had only a simply string to hang it by, which wasn’t quite long enough, so I hot glued some ribbon to the back to hang it by instead.  Simple.

It the kitchen I am working with the orange and turquoise.  This is hard for me since I love red at Christmas.  But, here we go.  I found some vintage-y looking ornaments at HL that are shatterproof which was a bonus!  Then I am mixing in greenery (sprayed lightly with snow from the Dollar Tree), pine cones and gingham.


The window over the sink needed a little dressing, so I used the leftover garland from the star to make a tiny wreath and added more ornaments, pine cones, and gingham.


Simple but everything I love.  

We also have an extra-large wreath that we hang outside every year.


I wanted one of these giant pre-lit wreaths for years, but man they are expensive!!  So, one year I remembered I had this giant grapevine wreath and decided to get creative.  I wrapped it with plain garland and lights, and then added a prettier garland to 3/4 of it. All of which was cheaper than one of those giant pre-lit wreaths!!

Much more decorating and fluffing.  I will be back soon to share more :)!!

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Kitchen Ceiling and Lighting Details

It all started about a year ago when I decided to finally update our kitchen. {click on over and check out the before pics of the kitchen – even I didn’t remember how dark and dated it looked} Not too long after we started, hubby and I took a day trip to Dallas, and of course stopped in at IKEA. New kitchen lighting was on my list, because I knew they had less expensive options. I was leaning towards some sort of track lighting to replace our hideous fluorescent lighting in the kitchen.  And then we spotted these.  

source – IKEA
They were the perfect length, had lots of lights, and a big enough cover in the center to cover the existing holes that I knew would be left behind by the current fixtures. And…the price was fantastic! – $29.99
I wasn’t sure about the silver finish, or the super-modern look, but the price and size just couldn’t be beat.  The bad news–they only had one in stock that day!!  And, I needed three.  I left very defeated.  I looked into ordering them online, and really the shipping wasn’t bad – about the same as gas to drive down there and back, but I just never got around to it.

Fast forward to last month, when one of my precious friends mentioned she was heading to Dallas, and making a trip to IKEA.  IKEA, I said, I love that store, and I told her my lighting story. And then, bless her, she offered to pick up whatever I wanted!!  (Thanks Angela!!) So, that my friends is how I scored my modern-inexpensive-way better than fluorescent- kitchen lighting!!

We first started by ripping out the old.  And we were left with this ugliness.


My hubby decided to remove two of the three lights (which btw weren’t working anyway???). And we had this.


I had my plan for the ceiling, but had no idea the sides of the inset were popcorn – ugh. So, rather than scraping that off, or painting over it, I pulled some beadboard from my scrap pile, held it up over the sides and voila!  Perfect!  And it tied in with the beadboard on the backsplash!!


We attached the beadbaord to the sides with a little liquid nails and finishing nails into as many studs as we could.  

From previous planking experience, I knew it was necessary to paint the ceiling for imperfection purposes.  I did not want to see white popcorn in between those boards.


Then we found the ceiling joists and started planking, using the same wood we used on our rustic kitchen island. We nailed the boards into the studs, staggering the sizes of the boards along the way.  


We installed the light fixtures as we went. Mostly because we wanted to see what it was going to look like!!  You know, then if I hated it I could tear it down and start over!  Ha!


When that was all finished…the last board!!


And the lights were all in place


I used some molding to trim out the beadboard, caulked to fill in all the cracks and imperfections, and lastly painted the beadboard and molding.  I used corner round in the corners, and a chair-rail molding around the bottom edge. 


Here is the approximate price break-down for the project:

Three sets of lights + light bulbs – $130
One 4×8 sheet of beadboard paneling – $20
Trim molding – $30
Liquid Nails – $3
Paint – $3 (I used a sample jar because it was such a small area – and because I started with a sample jar that I already had :)).

Not a bad transformation for under $200!! For more after photos check out Monday’s post.

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A Fun Place To Do Laundry

Another space that your guests don’t generally see is the laundry room.  However, this is a place where you spend a lot of time.  And, if you have a big family like me A.LOT. of time.  

Over the years I have made a few adjustments to our laundry space.  Our laundry ‘room’ is not the most desirable of spaces.  It is a walk through between the kitchen and the garage.  Washer on one side and dryer on the other.  No room for folding, very little room for sorting.  There are built-in cabinets above both the washer and the dryer which are great.

Somewhere along the way (before I was blogging), my hubby surprised me by painting the space a sunny yellow one weekend I was away.  🙂  And, at some point I decided to remove the doors on the cabinets, and I painted the insides with some left-over paint.  I just needed something different, and the shelves were in pretty bad shape from various liquid spills over the years.

A little later down the road, I got an itch to clean out and re-organize which led to a mini-makeover to make it a cute and functional place to work in.

Now I really don’t mind doing the laundry, and I don’t really mind if people have to walk through there from time to time.  

I mean, if you are going to have to spend time in a space it shouldn’t make you want to close your eyes!!  As always, there is a lot of inspiration out there on the internet, and I have pinned some of the best laundry rooms!!  Paint is a pretty inexpensive way to change up a space and make it more pleasing. I love to check out the mis-tint shelves when I am in home improvement stores. You never know what you might find.  

To see other posts in this series click on the link below
http://frazzledjoy.blogspot.com/2014/10/31-days-series-launch-2014.html

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The Garage – Duh duh duh…

A little over a year ago, I had enough of our garage.  There is lots of good storage in there already put in place by the previous owners, but we were not using it the best way possible.  Also, I had been working on de-cluttering and purging the house, the end-result being a messy and full garage.  

This was one of those many times that no cars fit in the garage.

I couldn’t take it anymore, and neither could my hubby.  So, we decided to dive in.  I decided that this time instead of just cleaning off the floor and shoving stuff who cares where, that I wanted to make it a functional space for us. 

This is another one of those hard working spaces that serves many roles in our home. That proved to be a challenge.  Also, as with everything in our home, we were on a budget and couldn’t do an all-out redo with custom built-ins and storage.

I went to my go-to for budget friendly inspiration, and I found plenty.  I created a pinterest board for garage organization.

After much cleaning out, a little painting with leftover paint, and organizing this is what we were left with.

(BTW it looks nothing like this right now, as my garage has been serving as furniture restoration workshop for months.)  🙁

You can read all about where we started here, what inspired me here and some details here, and here.

Even though the space has been spilling over with stuff from time to time since the makeover, we still are able to locate the things that we need way better than we used to.  Well worth the time, money and effort we put into it.  

How is your garage working for you??  Is it a welcoming spot to pull into each evening, or are you scared to open the door??

To see other posts in this series click on the link below
http://frazzledjoy.blogspot.com/2014/10/31-days-series-launch-2014.html

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