Monday, March 12, 2012

crockpot meal, shopping, and spring

Warning: This post is about three things that have nothing to do with each other!
My life just seems too busy and swirly and hectic sometimes
and it's hard to post often, much less on one subject.

Thus said ~ ever wonder what you're going to make for dinner?
I think most women face this dilemma. Doesn't matter if you work outside the home
(which I do, three days/week) or if you're busy at home (which I am).
I've read that slow cookers are making a comeback, and with good reason.
I have found that you can basically throw anything into the pot
and it turns out delicious....the only necessary prep work is chopping
 veggies and/or meat.

I decided to try a meat-based spaghetti sauce. I used a pound of ground
sirloin, one link of hot Italian sausage from the butcher, a 28 oz. can
of whole tomatoes, a little tomato paste, 1/4 c. white wine, and finely
chopped carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. I then added a lot of Italian
seasoning, freshly ground black pepper, and a bay leaf.
Set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low....

And this is what it looked like 8 hours later - yum! The house smelled so good
while this was cooking. And, if you're gone most of the day, how wonderful is it
to walk in the door and dinner is done?
We had it served over whole wheat spaghetti noodles and topped it with freshly grated
Parmesan cheese.

There's leftover sauce which I put in the freezer, but for a new meal
I will toss the sauce with penne pasta and chunks of mozzarella cheese
and bake in a 9x13" pan.

My husband actually had this past weekend off ~ he's not in the "normal" 9-5 office profession ~
so we spent the day on Saturday in one of our favorite browsing towns...Geneva, IL.
You may know that one of the decorative items I love is cloches.
Well, I was in a garden shop and I saw the world's tiniest cloches!
So cute...but what would you put under those two teeny ones?
They had some other miniature garden items, so I'm thinking they were for people
who make fairy gardens.

See the glass bottle with the heart-shaped bird stopper on top - at the left?
I found it at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Geneva
 for just $3. I hung some sterling silver bangles around the neck of the bottle.

One of my favorite stores in Geneva is Cocoon (
Couldn't resist this wooden bird necklace.
Mmm...besides cloches, I'm a bit obsessed with birds and nests, too. :-)

Spring has sprung in northern Illinois! Saw these beauties popping out of the ground
in Geneva. Are they Lily of the Valley?

I did a lot of spring cleaning on Sunday and started some spring decorating.
That will be another post for another day.


  1. Here in BC Canada we call those flowers "snow drops"... they are a bulb. So pretty!

  2. I agree; they're snowdrops. Lily of the Valley don't come out until later in the spring and they smell heavenly! You'll know them.

    Wonderful finds you have there; I love that bottle with the little birdie stopper.

  3. Hi Melanie, what a pretty post! your photos are always full of interesting things.
    I am glad you are liking your slow cooker, I never liked working and I especially disliked not having time and energy to always cook a proper meal. Your meat sauce looks really delicious.

    I like your little bird hanging disc, I have 2 cricut cartridges that cut out birds, maybe I can copy something sort of like it.
    I've never seen snowdrops in Oklahoma.

    hope you have a good day!

  4. Those are beautiful snowdrops! Lilly of the Valley are also white and bell like, but much smaller. Teeny tiny in fact. And they have an amazing perfume.

  5. Oops, forgot to say that your dinner looks delicious!!! I love my crock pot, and the ease of making dinners in it.

  6. They are snowdrops Melanie. They are ones of the first signs that Mother Nature is waking from her long winter's sleep. On my 21st birthday, I was at the convent and Reverend Mother said she had a 'gift' for me. She took me on a little walk and we had a talk. Her gift? Showing me snowdrops that bloomed that week. It was the first time I had ever seen them and it was a true gift indeed.

    That sauce looks so yummy! I was trying to convince Jos I need to get a crockpot. Not because I work and it is convenient but because I think it would be fun to use. I see recipes like this and really want to get one. They are now available here in Holland.

    Hugs from Holland ~

  7. Hi Melanie;
    This is my first time viewing your blog, it is wonderful!! I am glad to be on board, looking forward to more about you and your delightful family! Love, Nana

  8. I've just started using my slow cooker, and I like it! Very pretty flowers as well! Glad spring has finally sprung up there. :)

    (P.S. Check out my latest giveaway!)

  9. Your meat sauce looks great! I love using my crock pot too. I usually do a crock pot dinner on Saturday since that always such a busy day for us.

    Isn't it great that spring is here!


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