{eMeals} Beef Stew Recipe

Y’all, we have had a busy, COLD, week!  My mother-in-law surprised us with a quick visit from Florida, so we’ve been soaking up some “Sue Sue” around here.  The last thing I wanted to do was spend my evenings in the kitchen…too much catching up to do!

So tonight we are keeping warm with eMeals’ Low Calorie Beef Stew Recipe.  But, since I don’t eat beef {let alone cook it!}, I subbed in chicken and it was so, so good.  Talk about some great comfort food!

eMeals Beef Stew Recipe from Palmettos and Pigtails


  • 11/2 lb beef chuck roast, trimmed {or 6 chicken breasts, cubed}
  • 3/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped sweet onion
  • 3 carrots, cut into 11/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 11/2-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch



Cut roast into 1-inch pieces; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 6 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer beef to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and tomatoes. Whisk together broth and cornstarch; add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours until beef is tender. Divide into 6 servings.

Stay warm, and enjoy!Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

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A Love Story: 70 Years Later

This afternoon, I have a love story for you.  It’s not my story, but belongs to my friend Jenny.  Her family got a 70 year old surprise this past Valentine’s Day, and she’s letting me tell you about it!

It all started when Jenny’s family {in Pennsylvania} received a package from a stranger in Missouri.  Inside was a letter from 1942 from on board the USS Arogonne.  It was a love letter from Jenny’s Grandfather, to her Grandmother, when he was in the Navy during WWII.

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

The letter was dated three years before Jim and Mary were actually married, and begins, “My dearest darling, here I am writing to you again because I haven’t anything else to do.”  The letter goes on for two pages, describing Jim’s love for Mary.  He states, “…I love you more than anything else in this world….its such a consolation to know that someone still loves you and is waiting for you back home.”

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

The couple eloped in August of 1945 in Maryland, and were happily married for 64 years before passing away.

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

But the most incredible part about this love story is how the letter managed to get back to Jenny’s family.  Apparently the letter was found in an estate sale, and the sender looked up Jim’s obituary to find information  about his surviving family.  Since the obituary mentioned the family business, an address was easily found and the letter finally made it’s way back to the family.

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

Jenny says that her grandfather was an avid stamp collector and would have loved that one of his letters had found it’s way home.  It’s an amazingly beautiful story, but more than anything it “reminds us of their love story and of how much they are still with us even though they are not.”

A Love Story: 70 Years Later

Jenny’s family also told their story on ABC World News:


A love story for the ages!

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Cleaning for the Cleaning Lady

Today, we have a cleaning lady coming to “assess” our house.  Dave and I mutually agreed that we could squeeze a monthly deep clean into our budget, so we’ve started shopping around.  So today, I’m going to invite a stranger into my home to tell me how messy it is, and how much I’m going to pay her to clean it.

Maybe I’m being a bit of a drama queen here.  I mean, I’m absolutely thrilled that we are able to afford a little help.  But I can’t help but think my “Stay-at-Home Mom Card” is being taken away from me…or at least being scrutinized a bit.  I am the first to agree that raising 3 little kids is hard.  I certainly don’t sit on my couch eating bon-bons all day.  And add to that a 3,000 square foot house that just always seems dirty and cluttered.  And then there’s dinner, and grocery shopping, and laundry….don’t even get me started.

And I do realize that my awesome JOB, as a stay-at-home mom, is to raise my kids.  But also to keep house a little, you know? I feel like I should be able to handle the dust bunnies, loads of laundry, and vacuuming.  After all, I have my monthly cleaning calendars and short bursts of time when children are sleeping or playing nicely.  And I’ve got Dave and the kids that help out a lot too…the kids even have chore charts and age appropriate daily responsibilities. But it’s the deep cleaning that I struggle with.

So admitting that I need a little extra help with scrubbing showers, cleaning baseboards and washing windows isn’t all that bad, right?

But.  Even I know I shouldn’t, I feel like the cleaning lady will always be judging my dirty, cluttered house….and thinking, what does this lady do all day?!?!

So this morning, I am cleaning.  To impress the cleaning lady.


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Valentine’s Day Dance

Our neighborhood put on the cutest little Valentine’s Day Dance for the kids this weekend.  It was the first time anything like this had been put on, so I had no idea what to expect…but I should have known that they’d pull out all the stops!  All the kids were dressed in their Valentine’s Day finest, happy to pose with silly glasses and boas in the makeshift photo booth.

I couldn’t convince the girls to wear their Valentine’s Day shirts, but at least I got their hair brushed!

Even Jo and I made it into some pics!  Lincoln tolerated it, but he would rather have been on the dance floor!

The DJ was fantastic about playing a good mix of Oldies “Love” songs {like Love Potion Number Nine}, tweeny bop music {insert Taylor Swift here} and group dances {the girls heart the Macarena!}, and so the dance floor was filled the entire night with bouncy boys and twirly little girls, and lots of good-sport daddies!

Dave was out of town, but Millie was able to recruit a stand in!

And, you’d be so proud of me….I was totally good, and completely resisted the beautiful display of cake pops, cupcakes and ice cream bar!

Valentine's Day Dance table of goodies

Sorry about the grainy pictures, I was taking with my phone, and it was pretty dark.  The ambiance was complete with candles in votives filled with mini marshmallows!

Everyone had a fantastic time, and it was a great way to start off the Valentine’s Day weekend!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! We celebrated with heart shaped pancakes and a photo shoot!

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

Lincoln was a little drooly…

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

My little loves!

Valentine's Day Photo Shoot with DIY T-Shirts

For the tutorial on how to make their adorable t-shirts, check out this post, or even this one!

Hope your day is filled with hugs and kisses from the ones you love!

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DIY Valentine’s Day T-Shirts

I know, I know.  I did these posts out of order.  The whole project started with my St. Patrick’s Day T-shirt, but after that turned out so cute…I thought I’d make some more!  And the girls were able to help make their own Valentine’s Day T-shirts.

DIY Valentine's Day T-Shirts

To see a detailed how-to tutorial, check out my St. Patrick’s Day T-shirt post.  But once again, you only need:

DIY Valentine's Day T-shirts

You’ll also need a piece of cardboard for the inside of your t-shirt.  Cut out some hearts and arrange them on your shirt.  Dry iron them on, ironing for about 15 seconds.

DIY Valentine's Day T-Shirts

With each color of permanent marker, make small dots all around your heart cutouts. Make sure some of them go right up to the edge of your cut-out, but don’t fill in all the gaps around your cutout, or it will just look like a line.

DIY Valentine's Day T-Shirts

You can see in the picture above that we did too many dots close to the cutout edge and it ended up looking like a drawn line.  And Millie accidentally held the marker down too long in some areas, which made it look like the shirt had stains.  But…. She made it herself, and it turned out quite cute once she got her rhythm down!

DIY Valentine's Day T-Shirts I knew Lincoln wouldn’t want a bunch of hearts on his onesie, so I went with a red, grey and light blue arrow.  I sketched the arrow out on the freezer paper before cutting it out.

DIY Valentine's Day T-shirtsI love that they coordinate without being too matchy-matchy.  Perfect play clothes for Valentine’s Day!

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DIY St. Patrick’s Day T-Shirt

Today’s tutorial is one of my favorites so far.  It was so stinkin’ easy, and I just loved how it turned out!  If you like this tutorial for my DIY St. Patrick’s Day T-Shirt please share and pin it!  Spread the love!

DIY St. Patrick's Day T-ShirtMaterials:

a clean t-shirt
permanent markers of various shades of the color you want
freezer paper {NOT WAX paper!}
piece of cardboard for the inside of the shirt
DIY St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt

Use the wax paper to cut out your design.  You can use a pencil to sketch it out first, just be sure that you keep in mind that the waxy side of the paper will be ironed down onto your shirt.

DIY St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt

Be sure your iron is NOT on any steam settings, and gently press down onto your wax cutout.  Do NOT move the iron around.  The picture above was posed…when I actually ironed on the shamrock, I covered the design completely with the iron.  Press for about 15 seconds and then lift straight up.

DIY St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt

When your cutout is ironed on, insert a piece of cardboard into the inside of the shirt.  The permanent markers WILL bleed through, so this is essential!  I chose several shades of green, and then a contrasting brown color for my shamrock.

DIY St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt

I started out with one color and just made random dots all around my cutout.  Be sure that you make quick, straight up-and-down marks, so they make dots and not lines.  Repeat with all of your colors.  Be sure to get some dots right at the edge of your paper cutout.  Do NOT fill in all gaps around the edge of the cut-out!

DIY St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt

I made my dots more concentrated closer to the edges of my cutout, and then spread them out more and more the further away I went.  I really like how that turned out!

DIY St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt Tutorial

When you are finished with your dots, just peel your cutout off of your t-shirt.  Isn’t it cute?  Now nobody’s pinching my baby!

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I’m linking up here this week!

15 New Uses for Magic Eraser

15 New Uses for Magic Eraser Sponges

This post is for my good friends and neighbors Tricia, Sandy and Nikki…who have only scraped the surface of all that the versatile Magic Eraser can do!  But I thought maybe the rest of y’all could use some of these hints too!  I found these first few on blogs…new uses for Magic Eraser that even I hadn’t heard of!

Use Magic Erasers to Prep Your Chalkboard Walls

1. Chalkboard Wall Primer A Step in the Journey

Use Magic Eraser Sponges to clean grease off of Pyrex Dishes

2. Pyrex Grease Stains Tasteful Space

Use Magic Erasers to Recondition Cricut Cutting Mats

3. Reconditioning Cricuit Mats Fantabulous Cricut

Clean Up Nail Polish Spills with Magic Eraser

4. Cleaning Up a Nail Polish Spill I Heart Naptime

A Gazillion different uses for Magic Eraser Sponges!  Pin for Later

5. Huge List of Uses The Fun Times Guide

6. Even more uses, with some personal experience notes from The Fun Times Guide

And here are a few of the ways that I’ve used Magic Erasers:

7. Cut in half and float in a toilet bowl overnight to get rid of toilet rings

8. Removes dried paint splatter {think hardwood floors from overspray and door hinges}

9. Removes melted plastic bag from the side of toaster ovens

10. Cleans sticky/greasy grime on the top of your stove and microwave

11. Removes coffee and tea stains from cups, pitchers and coffee pots

12. Removes pet dirt marks from the sides of doors {If you have a dog, look at the edges of your doors and you can see where they’ve been pushing through!  Gross!}

13. Removes stains from under the toilet seat

14. Gets rid of scuff marks on your car interior, and cleans the steering wheel

15. Cleaning out rust stains from the inside of the dishwasher


One final thought….Magic Erasers are primarily made of melamine foam, and cost about $1 per eraser.  However, you can buy 50 of them for about $5 on Amazon!

Here’s some quick links to find the generic melamine foam as well as the brand name:


How do you use Magic Erasers?  Got any other ideas?  Please share!!

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*Palmettos and Pigtails is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

As always, all opinions in the post are 100% my own.*

National Compliment Week

I read on Facebook that last week was “National Compliment Week.”  Who creates these holidays, anyway?  Someone fishing for a compliment, obviously.  But it got me thinking about all of the powerful and influential women in my life.  And so I want to tell you about my friend, fellow mom, and pastor, Jenn.

I met Jenn when I first moved to South Carolina, and she was the intern at the church I started attending.  Although we weren’t friends for another year or so, I was immediately in awe of her.  I mean, here was this woman {the same age as me} who not only was strong enough to know her calling, but confident enough to go out and plant a new church that catered to the outer suburbs and rural areas of our town.  Starting from scratch!  I’m just so proud of who she is, and what she has done…even in just the 10 years I’ve known her.


And personally, she is a great friend.  She married Dave and me and  baptized our kids.  Our eldest children were born a week apart, so we had the pleasure of going through that first pregnancy journey together.  And now our kiddos are great friends, and learning about Christ each week at Sunday School together.

Jenn and I are also in the same Bible Study Small Group.  And where normally I’d be completely intimidated by having the pastor in my small group, Jenn has become such an integral part of our little circle….not only as a leader, but as a fellow mom.  Our group’s confessions, prayer requests and laughter bring us all closer together…assuring each of us that we are not alone in our trials, and confirming that we are awesome moms, wives and friends.

Getting to know Jenn over the years on a personal level has been integral in my walk of faith.  I know her as a person, I respect her as a pastor.  And over the years, it’s been nice sharing life challenges with each other.  It’s gotten her off of that pastor pedestal and showed me that even she is human.  Just like me, Jenn has her own journey, and despite any challenges she faces, her absolute faith is what has encouraged me to open my heart more and more to Jesus.

So, just a little shout out to Jenn….thanks for being awesome!

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February 2015 Cleaning Calendar

Happy February!  It’s the season of love and birthdays!  February is always a super busy month for us.  Jayna’s birthday is on the 9th, and it kind of sneaks up on my every year, for some reason.  We’ve quit doing big birthdays every year, so Jayna is just having a few friends over for pizza and cake next weekend.  Following our traditional pedicures!

I’ve made a mini resolution as well, and that is to try to streamline our “products.”  Cleaning, hair, makeup, cooking….everything.  We. Just. Have. So. Much. Stuff.  So, without wasting, I’ve decided not to buy any new products until our current ones are gone….attempting to use up all of our half-empty bottles of shampoo and all.  So while I was attempting to consolidate our cleaning products, I ran across a box of Magic Erasers, which reminded me of a conversation I recently had about the merits of the Magic Eraser.  My friends had no idea the scope of use available!

So stay tuned, because on Thursday I have a bunch of really neat ways to use Magic Erasers.  But here’s a little sneak peek in the February 2015 Cleaning Calendar…I’ve marked all of the chores you can do with a Magic Eraser with an ME on the calendar.  You’ll get more information and instructions on Thursday!

Happy Cleaning!

February 2015 Cleaning Calendar with special ideas for Magic Erasers!

Click here to get your own copy to print out!

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