Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flying high, and this is why....

If you are following, you know I have been posting a lot about the FlyLady.  And if you know me well at all, you know if I get into something, I really get into it.  (Think back to Hypnobabies, and me calling labor "my birthing time".... I get invested and really buy in to whatever I am doing.  Yes, I am doing some Hypnobabies with this pregnancy too!)  Back to the FlyLady...I was shocked to discover that I only discovered her one month ago.  It seems like so much has changed already, my attitude, our home, the clutter and disorganization.... even by using FlyLady's "baby steps" and not jumping in too much.  (She advocates for baby steps because doing too much at once can burn a person out.)

And by the way, the FlyLady is one person, but it is the network of people that makes this work.  We are "flybabies" and take lessons from things the FlyLady taught herself.  She was once living in CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome - her acronym, not mine), and she established simple routines to change her attitude, to get and keep her house in order, and to be kinder to herself.  I love the messages that she sends.  They are empowering and thoughtful, unlike the internal perfectionist messages I sometimes send to myself.

So that is a bit of history about the start of my relationship with FlyLady.  Now on to what has changed in our home:
  • Decluttered and organized the attic - there is plenty of space now, as opposed to before when we could hardly walk up there!
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned the laundry closet
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned the cleaning products under the kitchen sink.
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned two kitchen drawers and the tupperware cabinet
  • Decluttered and organized the dining room cabinets - floor-to-ceiling cabinets that are our only storage on our first floor.
  • Decluttered, organized, and cleaned the middle bedroom 
  • Purged and organized Luke's bedroom closet and clothes drawers
  • Organized toys in various parts of the house
  • Purged FIVE giants trash bags full of my old clothes
  • Reorganized bedroom closet and drawers
Now onto the systems that have been developed to help prevent the clutter from creeping back in:
  • My new bedtime routine helps me start each day ahead of the game.  I will have another post about the bedtime routine, which will outline each step in detail.
  • We now run the dishwasher every night before bed, and empty it upon wakening.  This ensures we have a place to put our dirty dishes from the very start of the day.
  • We have a wonderful new laundry system (to be explained in detail in another post) that helps me to stay on top of the laundry with one load per day.  It gets washed, dried, folded, and put away on the same day!  The same day, people!  No more living out of laundry baskets. This is huge!
  • While it sounds simple, I now put things away after I use them.  
  • There are times this doesn't happen because of Luke's needs, or for other acceptable reasons, for example, a hot curling iron that needs to cool. In those cases, I do a 5-minute room rescue when time does allow, like during naps or while Luke is eating or playing happily on his own.  This entails a quick sweep of a hot spot or messy area.
Doing all these things makes it feel like I am not cleaning all day long.  That's a beautiful thing!  I don't especially enjoy cleaning, but I do take pride and feel great about a clean house. 

Next step?  Establishing a few more routines throughout my week to help me keep this place guest-ready at all times.  Going to work on the weekly home blessing over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The diaper queen saves hundreds of dollars!

I haven't quite decided if I am a fan of this title, but I am giving it to myself anyway.  I am the diaper queen!  Why?  Well, you might remember my recent post entitled Excellent customer service from Bum Genius Cloth Diapers.  In it, I described some of the savings from buying our favorite cloth diapers second-hand and doing the repair work ourselves.  Let me elaborate...

I found a mom online who was willing to sell her stash of 25 pocket diapers for $20.  The only catch was that the velcro needed to be replaced.  I discovered the wonderful people at Cotton Babies (who manufacture Bum Genius diapers) were willing to send me replacement velcro and elastic for each diaper for free!  Free!  FREE!  I detached the old velcro and my wonderful mom did all the sewing.

I found another mom looking to unload her stash of 10 Bum Genius pocket diapers.  Because her diapers were in much better shape, we agreed on $30 for the set of 10.  Cool.  No detaching or sewing!

Then, as if all of the above is not good enough, yet another mom had a stash for me (and she replied to my ad on Craigslist, so there was basically no work on my part in finding her)!  She has a good number of diapers that she will pass on to me for free!  She said they are just taking up space, and she wants to get rid of them and give them to me for free.  (Did I say they are free?!)

Of course, I already had my own little stash of about 10 diapers.  I paid full price for about half of these; the other half were purchased new on sale both online and at The Nesting House.

Let me do the math, just for fun!

I spent a total of $50 for about 45 used diapers and about $130 for my own little stash of 10 diapers.  That's $180 for a total of 55 diapers, which will serve us well when little number two gets here!  But this is my favorite part of the math!  If I had purchased all 55 diapers brand new at retail price ($17.95 each), I would have spent $987.25!

That's a savings of $807.25!  If a penny saved is a penny earned, I think I did pretty well with over $800.

So, yes, I realize I am bragging a bit, but that is not the only purpose of this post.  I am also hoping that this inspires others to shop around and look for bargains.  Craigslist and local parent listservs are great resources for baby bargains.  Not only can you save money buying second-hand baby items, but doing so decreases trash in landfills.  Saving money and the environment is definitely the way to go!  It wasn't that difficult for me, and I'm impatient - when I want something, I want it now.  A little bit of patience and money will truly pay off!

Monday, March 28, 2011

FlyLady Inspired

Sharing my FlyLady inspiration from today:

  • I wore shoes today.  All day.  I don't usually do this, mostly because I don't like wearing shoes indoors, but also because we became a "shoeless" house to help prevent allergy issues for our floor-loving crawling baby.  FlyLady says practice getting dressed all the way to shoes everyday to help get your butt in gear.  So today, I tried it.  I got a lot done, didn't turn on the TV (except for Nate Berkus's wonderful coupon tips today), and feel great about my day. 
  • I rebooted the laundry, meaning that I did one load today to prevent chaos from taking over.
  • Because of the daily routines I have been practicing, I had time to work on a couple little projects during Luke's nap today.  I absolutely LOVE what I created, and will post some photos of the craft sometime soon.
So, it's another successful day, and I'm feeling thankful to FlyLady for the inspiration to make it a good one.

Meet the most tired woman in the world!

Today, that's me!  Combine a late night (mind racing and couldn't fall asleep) with an early-rising baby, a pregnancy and a one-year-old, and lots of productive cleaning and organizing, and you will get the most tired woman in the world!  Wowzers, I am having trouble keeping my eyes open and it's only 5:16 PM!

Even if I do nothing else but the dinner dishes today, I feel like I crammed quite a lot into this day, and I will be pleased with my accomplishments.  After a "mommy meltdown" a few days ago, I am trying to see the good in what I do each day, rather than offering myself constant criticisms for the things I am not doing (or not doing well enough, according to my perfectionist standards).

That's for another post... soon to be written, actually!  If I can stay awake after Luke goes to bed, I will write it tonight.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What can I accomplish in 15 minutes?

I am utterly amazed at what can be done in just 15 minutes.  Today alone, using 15-minute intervals for each task, I accomplished the following:
  • sorted through a very messy kitchen drawer
  • cleaned and organized our laundry closet in the kitchen
  • purged and re-organized cleaning products in the cabinet under the kitchen sink
  • tidied and organized our middle bedroom
So, in one hour, spread out over the course of the day, I took care of crazy hot spots all over the house!  Feeling good about these successes....

Loving me some FlyLady!

I promised I would give small but frequent doses of information about why I love the FlyLady.  Here is today's dose:

I went grocery shopping yesterday, and while I was there, Chris was putting Luke down for a nap and preparing to take him swimming.  I soon received a text message that read, "I love organized Nancy. Luke is already down, and I already have all our stuff ready for swimming.  So much easier than before." Chris was simply referring to the fact that he didn't have to searchch through endless laundry baskets to find his swimsuit, towel, and arm floats.  The backpack was where it should be, as were the swimmy diapers.  I have already been feeling good about the progress being made in the house, especially with our new addition coming soon.  However, the recognition is so nice, and I am glad that we are living in a peaceful home finally!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Excellent Customer Service from Bum Genius Cloth Diapers!

With another little one on the way, and the possibility of two kids in diapers, I realized I needed to increase my stash by a significant number of diapers without a significant cost.  I perused Craigslist but got no responses from my inquiries.  I decided to turn to my midwife's message board for parents.  Earlier this week, I asked if anyone had any diapers to sell, and luckily, on mom got back to me that she had our very favorite diapers (Bum Genius 3.0) to sell to us.  The best part is, she had about 25 diapers and she was willing to sell the whole lot for $20!  One brand new diapers retails at about $16, so you can see that I was saving a ton of money on this deal.  There was a catch: the velcro on the diapers was shot and needed to be replaced. 

I searched the Internet for diaper repair websites and discovered that another mom posted on her blog that Bum Genius sent her velcro repair kits for free.  This was back in 2009, and I simply prayed that they would still be willing to do so.  I sent an email to customer service, and they responded within a few hours asking how many kits I needed.  It took three days for 25 repair kits to arrive in the mail FOR FREE!  I have some work cut out for me, but for the price, I am thrilled!  I am very impressed with this customer service!

So, 25 diapers at $16 each is $320.  I spent $20, saving us $300!  Woo hoo!  That is too good not to share!  Go, frugal mama, go!

Organized mama gives menu planning a whirl!

A little bit of background: Since having Luke, grocery shopping has sometimes been an excuse for getting out of the house, especially during the dreary winter months.  I don't love or hate it, but I do hate the feeling of being disorganized.  I haven't gone to the grocery store without a list in years, but often, that list is hodge-podge, thrown together at the last minute, and is almost always incomplete.  So while I've made an effort to be organized with a list, I always seemed to come up short.

One of the blogs I follow, a clever mama outlined her menu plan for the month, and I was in awe.  (You can find her menu for March here. (Her blog is great, by the way!  She calls it "I Heart Naptime" and you will see why... she does amazing things while her kids sleep during the day.)  Yes, I have attempted menu planning before, but I never seemed to get it quite right.  She had a good format and some easy tips.  Then, my new favorite woman, the FlyLady, advocated for menu planning, and I realized that I needed to jump on this bandwagon.

My Step-by-Step Process

Step one for me was to put together a list of meals that we like and have made before.  I knew this was not a time to start cooking all new recipes, at least not while I am just starting out.  So, I compiled that list with help from Christopher.   

Next, I downloaded a free calendar template, and added "B, L, D" to each day - standing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, of course.   

Step three involved using my list of meals, and filling in the dinners with meals that seem appropriate for each day.  This involved some thinking, though, as I had to remember to make easy meals on Mondays, when I typically plan a big cleaning session during the day.  I also had to consider our current plans, and days Chris works late.  It is not perfect, and we may change it up by switching days, but for the most part, the dinners are planned.   

My next step was to consider breakfast and lunch.  This was easier than planning dinner, but still required thought.  I wanted to make sure our leftovers would be eaten, and needed to think a bit about making it simple so Luke and I could eat the same things (for the most part) for lunch.   

The fifth and final step, and what I consider to by my own personal addition to the menu planning process, was to create my grocery list.  I started with dinners again, accessed the recipes to see ingredients, and considered what we already had on hand.  Again, the thought here is planning for two weeks ahead.  I obviously can't buy a baguette this weekend to be eaten 10 days from now.  Perhaps I will switch days, or maybe just do an extra run to the market - after all, we will probably need milk or bread by that point anyway.  This is a work in progress!  You can also see that I have highlighted the meals for which I have accounted for ingredients.  For those meals that aren't highlighted, I still need to find my recipes and look at the ingredients I need.

So there you have it!  While it took about an hour in total, I think the convenience of knowing exactly what we will have for our meals over the next couple weeks with certainly save me time in the long run. 

Menu Planning for End-of-March 2011


B: big family breakfast!

L: chicken salad sandwiches

D: stuffed peppers

B: oatmeal

L: leftover peppers

D: tuna casserole with mixed vegetables

B: eggs & toast

L: soup

D: sweet & sour chicken with rice and broccoli

B: cereal

L: leftovers

D: order out

B: oatmeal

L: chopped salad

D: beef stroganoff with noodles and brussel sprouts

B: cereal

L: chopped salad

D: spaghetti in clam sauce with salad

B: breakfast sandwiches

L: leftovers

D: lasagna

B: big family breakfast!

L: leftovers

D: homemade pizza

B: oatmeal

L: chopped salad

D: grilled cheese and tomato soup

B: cereal

L: hummus & cucumber sandwiches

D: breakfast for dinner

B: eggs & toast

L: chopped salad

D: white bean minestrone with baguette

B: oatmeal

L: leftover soup

D: chicken cheesesteaks with fries

B: cereal

L: cheesy tortillas

D: order out

B: breakfast sandwiches

L: leftovers

D: turkey burgers

Shopping list:



Dry/canned goods




4 green peppers
4 cucumbers
3 mushroom boxes
Brussel sprouts
Fennel bulb
Swiss chard or cabbage
Green onions
1 lb gr beef
1 lb sweet sausage
Ground turkey
Chicken breast
Egg noodles
Cream of celery soup
WW spaghetti
Can clams
Clam sauce
Tomato soup
Pizza sauce
Chicken stock
Mixed veggies
Block cheese
Mozzarella block
3 ricotta cheese
Provolone cheese
Pizza crust
Hoagie rolls

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Have you met the FlyLady yet?

A few weeks ago, I discovered a wonderful website that I simply must share.  It is  I found her through a blog, of course, and since my discovery, I have become a little obsessed.  She has such great ideas regarding housekeeping, organization, daily and weekly routines, and decluttering.  I struggle a bit in each of these areas, and so finding FlyLady was a true blessing for me and our home! 

I am going to provide a brief  overview of what I have learned so far, but my descriptions should only be a starting point.... hope on over to visit FlyLady for yourself!

The very first thing I learned was I needed to start with my kitchen sink.  FlyLady describes exactly how a messy sink can equal a messy home and a messy head.  She's right!  Think about it: your sink is full of dirty dishes, so you put more dirty ones on the counter next to the sink, and then after dinner, it looks like you need to clean up after Thanksgiving.  She encourages her "flybabies" to start a simply routine of keeping their sinks clean and shiny every day before bed, in order to start the next day clean and fresh.  Good idea, right?

Some of you expert housekeepers out there might be thinking, "Duh!  Who wouldn't clean their sink before going off to bed?!"  Well, I, for one, never thought about it.  These things don't come naturally to everyone, and just like learning to read, ride a bike, or cook, good housekeeping habits need to be taught and practiced before they become second nature.

Some of my favorite tips developed so far....
  • A load a day keeps the chaos away.  Why didn't I think of that?!  I have spent days doing laundry and I always waited until there was a huge pile before sorting through it.  We had three hampers in three different rooms, plus the rags hamper in the kitchen.  In an effort to streamline the laundry process, we now have a few hampers right next to each other, and they are pre-sorted hampers.  FlyLady says to take a load down with you in the morning before you even start your day.  This is a huge help to get laundry done from start-to-finish without the ridiculous piles and "living out of the laundry basket syndrome."
  •  Declutter for 15 minutes each day.  The FlyLady says we can do anything for 15 minutes.  I have tried this, and she's right.  I tend to look at a messy room as completely overwhelming.  I want to clean all of it.  The FlyLady says do just 15 minutes and no more.  It's amazing what 15 minutes can do to a room, closet, attic, etc.  And the best part is you will get started on something that has been bothering you because you only have to work for 15 minutes.... if she said do it all, we'd never bother!
I am going to sign off with that today.  I will update the blog on my FlyLady progress periodically.  Please don't forget to check her out at

Image courtesy of

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom: Bodily Functions Gone Awry

When I was 25, I couldn't bring myself to say the word "poop" - it seemed like a silly word for an adult to use, and I couldn't think of any conversation in which using the word would be appropriate.  For the last year, I have said the word daily, probably numerous times a day.  I have cried over poop and rejoiced over poop.  I know.  It's ridiculous.

Be that as it may, baby poop is now a daily part of my life.  I clean it, wash it, and wipe it daily.  Our use of elimination communication (EC), otherwise known as infant potty training, makes my coexistence with baby poop bearable, most of the time, but as you will see in today's story, not all the time.  Our use of cloth diapers requires disposal of number-two in the toilet, which actually makes washing the diapers much easier.  Using cloth creates an extra load of laundry every three days or so, but other than that, it's not much hassle.  Of course, there are the occasional disposables, and the only complaint I have about those is the smell.  Ewww!  Can't throw them away with the regular garbage, or the entire house will reek within 45 minutes.  So much thinking about and managing of just one of our lovely son's bodily functions!

When I was feeling tired and ill during the first trimester of this pregnancy, I couldn't think about washing diapers or ECing Luke.  There was just no way I could manage it.  For about two months, we were almost exclusive users of disposables.  And poor Luke, who had grown accustomed to using the potty or toilet several times a day, was now going in his diaper.  I did feel terribly guilty about this, but I assure you, there was no choice in the matter.  I simply did not have the energy to life him to the toilet, keep him there, then clean it all up when he was done.  So Huggies made some money from us, albeit, not for long.

Chris is a huge fan of EC, which is actually kind of funny, because upon first telling him about babies on potties, he laughed like never before.  It didn't take long to convince him of the benefits, as Luke would often have dry diapers and would only go when put on the potty.  Seeing is believing, I guess, and witnessing a little baby respond to a cue to pee or poo is truly an amazing sight, regardless of how basic it might seem.  So while I was sick, Daddy was the lone ECer, and he did everything he could to keep up the good habits on the weekends.

Now that I am feeling better for the most part, I am trying to offer Luke the potty more often.  Today, Luke awoke, and I changed his diaper, without offering the potty.  Clearly this was a mistake, because within a couple minutes, I recognized the red face, distant stare, and glassy eyes that accompany a number-two.  This is always the dilemma: should I rush off to the potty and let him finish there OR should I simply let him go in the diaper and change it when he's done.  This was a freshly-laundered cloth diaper, so I decided to try to "save" it, and we ran off to the potty. 

Quick Mommy, unfasten diaper and plop son on potty. Within seconds, the boy was going .  Hooray!  We saved a diaper!  Luke knows when to get up, so I began the clean-up process as soon as he motioned to get off, only to find that a minute later, our poop machine was still in action!  There was no time to put him back on the potty, and he was standing on our bath rug, so I did the only thing a mom thinks to do in such a situation: I put my hand right in the line of fire to catch the stuff and save the bath mat.  Yes, I had myself a hand full of poop.  It was completely gross, and was as unglamorous a moment as I've ever had.

I couldn't help but wonder if I should have just let Luke poop it out in the diaper, considering the mess I now had to deal with.  Unfortunately, the bath mat does need a good scrub, despite my best efforts at catching the mess.  I then had to deal with snatching Luke away from the surprise in the potty while attempting to wash my hands and get him clean.  It was all a bit of a fiasco, really, and a situation I'd prefer to never encounter again, although I know with certainty that I will.

So there you have it, one small example of the glamour and luxury of my life as a stay-at-home mom!  (Sarcasm intended!)

My Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom

I have been thinking about writing some narrative-style pieces for the blog, chronicling our day-to-day life from my perspective.  That perspective is constantly changing depending on the daily circumstances, so I cannot guarantee there will be any reasonable flow to pieces written at different times.  At times, I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with Luke, raising him, taking care of our home, and enjoying every little milestone.  Other times, I feel like pulling my hair out with the incessant cleaning, meal-preparation (because when you are home for every meal, you must prepare it, eat it, feed it to the baby, and clean it up!), and just the mundane little pieces of day-to-day life.  So you can imagine, with my feelings ranging from both ends of the spectrum, there would be quite an array of stories to share!

I will work on my first piece sometime in the coming days, and I think it will be inspired by a text-message conversation with Chris.  The texts read as follows:

Me: "Started the day with baby poop on my hand, and now I have a boy wants to by my butt buddy. Life as a SAHM!"

Hub:"Glamorous isn't it?"

Enough said.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Facebook for Lent

Yes, I am giving up Facebook for the next 40 days.  I have been thinking about giving it up anyway, and I remember a teacher at school telling us that Lent is a good time to try to break bad habits and start good ones.  So here we go.  Officially, it's been about four hours since I logged out.  No withdrawal so far!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Birthday Greeting Card Hanger

Our holiday cards gathered dust for nearly two months, haphazardly placed on a living room shelf.  Our family photos were hidden behind the holiday greetings, and to be honest, our room just kind of looked cluttered because of them.  Definitely not the intention behind those thoughtful holiday greetings! With a bit of inspiration from something I saw in a craft shop, I decided that for the next big event with greeting cards necessitated some "crafting" on my part.  That big event was my son's first birthday last weekend!

Unfortunately, I do not have photos of the step-by-step process, but looking at the final product, I am sure you will see how I re-purposed this old poster frame into the fun and funky birthday greeting card hanger.

Supplies needed:
  • large old poster or collage frame
  • string or twine
  • hot glue or strong craft glue
  • paper clips
  • decorative paper
  • (birthday wrapping paper)
  1. Detach backing from old frame.
  2. Measure twine to hang across frame.
  3. Secure twine using hot glue, craft glue, or tying onto frame clips.
  4. Use decorative paper for "birthday greetings" sign.
  5. Hang card using paper clips.
  6. (As an added treat, you could secure birthday wrap along the back of the frame.)
It was so easy!  Took 15 minutes including time to clean the frame from years of living in a dusty basement!
Here is just the top so you can see more detail.

It's official...

Yes, friends and followers, it's official: we are having another baby!  As I write this, I am 16 weeks, 3 days with baby #2.  I nonchalantly mentioned pregnancy nausea in my previous post, but I thought it should be made official and clear.... another baby is coming along this summer.

A couple fun facts:

  • This baby's due date is exactly 18 months from the day of Luke's due date!
  • Should this baby be exactly the same number of days "late" as Luke, this baby will be born on my 30th birthday!
  • We are going to leave the baby's gender a surprise this time.  Both Chris and I are getting girl vibes, though, and no, it's not just wishful thinking.  We would be very happy to give Luke a brother.
  • We are planning a home birth with this baby.  I will practice Hypnobabies again with this pregnancy.
  • My belly grew much faster this time, even though all aspects of this pregnancy (so far) have been very similar to my pregnancy with Luke.
I don't have any "belly shots" like I had with Luke, which I suppose is a symptom of being insanely busy with a baby this time around; however, we did take a nice photo on Luke's birthday which highlights my expanding girth!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Party time!

Okay, everyone, this little (alright, not-so-little) lady is gearing up for the big party tomorrow.  I had planned to spend some time each day doing a little bit of organizing to prepare, but Monday turned out to be a wash (with pregnancy nausea rearing its ugly head again).  Tuesday was productive, as was Wednesday.  Thursday was a midwife appointment, and then an unexpected crash in bed during Luke's nap.  (Again, never can tell when the pregnancy will take a toll.)  It wasn't until my wonderful husband suggested a trip to Sam's Club while he bathed Luke and put him to bed, that I was re-energized for party prep.

Out I went into the cold, and got everything we needed.  Upon returning home, not only did my wonderful hubby carry in the groceries, I also caught him working on his to-do list for the party.  Gotta love him!  I put away the food, and got cooking.  As of this moment, the pasta salad is made, the potatoes have been boiled, the cookies baked.  I do have a number of things left on this list of mine, but I am feeling productive today, and I think this is do-able.

So why is this such a big deal to me?  To be honest, I don't know.  I want to throw a nice party, that's my goal, and I am doing everything within my power to make it that way.  I will post some photos of the decorations and the party on Sunday.  I think it will be a great success!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Favorite Family Recipe: Jambalaya

A few years ago, I found a great crock pot recipe online.  It's a Southern-style jambalaya, and boy, do we love it!  I know I found the recipe through Parents Magazine online, but it's been awhile since I made it, and in the meantime, the website removed the link.  I was distraught as I realized one of my favorite bookmarked recipes is gone forever... unless.... Didn't I put all the ingredients into an Excel grocery list awhile back?  Surely, I'd be able to remember how I tossed it all into the crock pot if only I could see the ingredients.  Luckily, I was right!  For my sake (as to never "lose" this recipe again), and of course, for your sake also, I am including the recipe here today!

So, giving credit where it is due, I owe thanks to Parents Magazine for the original recipe, although what you see below is my variation over the years.  After realizing once again how easy it is to chop and toss the veggies into the slow cooker, I am considering this dish as one I might serve at little Luke's birthday party on Saturday.  I'll keep you all posted on that.

Without further delay, here is one of our family faves!


1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3-4 celery ribs, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
10-12 oz. frozen corn kernels
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed, in 1/2 in. pieces
1 small can chopped clams, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted, as it adds to the spicy flavor)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup (or so) veggie or chicken broth
1 tsp (or so) Cajun spice
several shakes of sea salt
1.5 - 2 cups brown rice (original recipe called for instant)
10-15 small shrimp
3-4 chopped spring onions, for garnish

It couldn't be easier!  Chop all veggies and throw them into the slow cooker.  Add meat and frozen corn.  Next, add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, salt and spice.  Toss around the crock pot with a big spoon, making sure sausage is nicely separated.  Cook on high 3-5 hours. 

*If using regular brown rice, add rice one hour before serving.  If using instant rice, cook as directed, and add rice upon serving. 

*If using uncooked shrimp, be sure to add 45 minute before end of cooking cycle.  Check your shrimp before serving!  Shrimp should be opaque and red in color.  I usually use frozen cooked shrimp, and only add  them10-15 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy!  [Photo to be uploaded soon]