This Slow Cooker Beef and Potato Au Gratin is an easy from-scratch hearty meal! I am a HUGE fan of the crockpot, so finding easy and yummy recipes is something I do weekly when I plan our dinner menu for the week. My family loves potatoes au gratin as a side dish, so this recipe is even better because it's a delish main dish!
I knew that the potatoes would need some heavy seasoning, so I went heavy with the salt and pepper, but also added garlic powder, paprika and parsley. The potatoes go in the slow cooker peeled, though I don’t mind skin on for most recipes this one tastes great with or without.
How to make Beef and Potato Au Gratin:
You will need these ingredients:
* Ground beef
* Russet Potatoes (peeled, and sliced)
* White onion (thinly sliced)
* Garlic Powder
* Shredded Cheese
* Beef broth
1. Brown ground beef on the stovetop, add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Peel russet potatoes and lay them on the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.
I always have the feeling Valentine’s Day comes so suddenly, almost not giving me the time to prepare a cool gift for my husband. However, to be fully honest, even if I started to think about the potential gift 3 months in advance, it would still be so difficult to find something! Although some guys might say they don’t want any gifts for Valentine’s Day, I still think it is nice to give them something as a ‘thank you’ for their daily support and love! A nice cologne, a classy watch, hipster socks? Yes, he will tell you he loves it, but that forced smile on his face betrays him a bit. Husband's are after all not so demanding, but it just seems very hard to find something unique every time! Then there's my kids. They of course have all the fun with their classmates from school- classroom Valentine's Day parties (that was my favorite when I was young) but my kid's are a little more demanding than my husband, and do expect a little Valentine's Day love from Mom too.
Because I have faced this problem for so long, I have started creating DIY gifts, and I absolutely love it! They are more personal and unforgettable, and you can have a lot of fun while creating them!
Here I have compiled a list of my suggestions:
Idea for couples who love food, but hate gifts, Valentine's Day Breakfast
Trust me, when guys say they are of a simple nature, they are, indeed, telling you the truth! Most of the guys love to eat, so why wouldn’t you cook something delicious in the shape of hearts or X's and O's? In this way, it won’t just be an every-day meal but will also have a nice romantic touch. If cozy breakfasts are your thing, get up a bit earlier and cook a nice breakfast in the shape of hearts! Who could resist heart-shaped pancakes with Sugar Bob's Smokey Syrup, chocolate chips, and of course champagne? Not for the kids...sparkling cider works for them.
Host A Valentines Day Movie Night
Simply choose one of the Valentine’s Day movies for kids that the whole family can enjoy together (check out my list of movie ideas below) and gather your family for a night of cuddling and watching together.
You can serve fun snacks like:
* Microwave popcorn sprinkled with Valentine’s Day candies
* Heart shaped sugar cookies
* Pink milkshakes
Give the family a "heart attack"
Make the whole month of February fun for your family by doing a “heart attack” on their bedroom door. Each day you write a little note on heart doilies telling them something you love about them, or why they are special. You can write them all yourself, or make it a family event and have everyone write a heart each day. I actually did this for my family last year, and they all saved the heart notes.
Make a Special Valentine’s Day Dinner Together
There are so many fun heart shaped foods to make and enjoy and this is always my kid’s favorite part of the day.
Here are a few of our favorite Valentine’s Day dinner ideas:
Aren’t these ideas so cute! I can’t wait to spoil my family and surprise them with these fun activities we can enjoy together.
I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family? Please comment below!
STEP 1. GET YOUR SUPPLIES
Have your dowel, your yarn out, and your scissors ready to go. Here is some orange yarn if you want the same look as mine, or some chunky black yarn looks amazing too. If you want that natural, boho look then this cream yarn would be perfect. Next, take about 20" of twine and tie to each end of your stick or dowel. This is what will hang your wall piece when it's finished.
STEP 2. CREATE YARN LOOP
Grab your yarn, hold the loose end in one hand, and start to wrap the skein around your arm. Do this loop 10 times (fewer if you have really thick yarn), and cut the string after your last loop around and put the skein down. Once you have that done, grab your scissors and snip the rest of the yarn that is wrapped around your hand. Basically, you end up with 10 pieces of yarn cut to the same length (but keep them folded in half for the next part).
STEP 2 continued. KNOT ON DOWEL
That chunk of yarn you just cut to size will make up your first yarn knot on your dowel. This step is a little tricky to write out, so it’s best to look at the photos here as you go. Basically you’re going to keep your yarn folded in half, and then set your dowel on top. Pull the yarn ends through the top loop, pulling it down tight to create a knot.
STEP 3: HAIRCUT
Now it’s the fun part. Hang up your new wall hanging, get out your scissors, and give that bad boy a haircut. I personally like the symmetry of having it be longer in the middle and shortening out to the sides. Find the middle knot (or two middle knots if you did an even number), then cut up from there. Don’t stress about it being perfect. Cut small amounts at first, and just even it out as you go.
STEP 4. EMBELLISH
The fun thing about these wall hangings is that you can embellish them however you want. This one I used feathers my youngest daughter found for me one afternoon while we were at the park. I just weaved them in through the yarn, adding a little bit of hot glue to hold them in place.
I had some of these brass metal rings, so I played with adding some to my hangings in the past. You can use the rings to create a loop to hang them from.
Fun, right? You can also braid some of your yarn, or add in little beads. It’s fun to really personalize them.
I ended up making a bunch more of these, because they were so fun and easy to do! I'd love to see yours if you make one, so please share on my Facebook page!
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You remember that time when we tried to drive down to the beach but ended up in the mountains? That kinda sucked, didn’t it? Yes, I love the mountains, too. But I wanted to go to the beach. And I looked a bit out of place in the mountains with my bikini on. If we had a map (or at least the proper sense of direction or a phone with GPS, internet and Siri) we could have gone to the beach. Why didn’t we get a map? Oh yeah. We were full of ourselves. What kind of idiot doesn’t know the way to the beach? Us. You can bet next time we went to the beach we got directions first. First from the cell phone and second we printed some out in case we had no cell coverage. Smarter the second time around. We all make mistakes and promise to do better next time. That’s why you will do better next time you decorate.
You’re going to do these things first: Analyze your life. Decide what you need and want. Figure out your budget and if you can get what you need and want. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? It is. You just have to make sure you have the patience to do it right the first time. What we are going to do here doesn’t take your big old brains. It just takes you listening and figuring out. You need to be your own client. Listen to yourself and your family. Figure out all those details that you eventually come to sneer at down the road. You know, like your budget, your needs, and finding out that even though pink velvet sounds perfect for your sofa you realize your dog who sheds immensely will turn it into a fur coat in no time. Things like this lead you to spending money on things you didn’t want to spend money the first time around because going shopping first without a plan is so fun! Call me a killjoy, but you’ll thank me later. I’ll help you start the process. I created a mini version of the design questionnaire I ask my clients before I start designing their homes.
So let me guess, you want a list of the questions I ask my clients don't you? Well you are in luck! Just sign up with you email by clicking the little 'envelope' icon located at the top right of your screen or enter it on the little pop up that appears at the bottom of your screen. Then I will send over my helpful list and you'll be signed up to receive all kinds of other goodies from me too!
We've all done it, set a new years goal or resolution only to fall short months, weeks, and sometimes days later. Perhaps it's to declutter your home, finally finishing that kitchen remodel, getting real intentional with how you want your outer world to reflect your inner world.
This is where being more intentional is for more important than an actual goal or resolution.
So let me break this down further. Being mindful is such a big part of reaching goals and setting intentions. Most bad habits have become automatic. We’ve probably all sat down to watch an episode of our favorite show and a few hours later we’re still watching television, even though we told ourselves we were going to make it to yoga class, read a chapter of that book and finish the laundry. We’ve probably all sat down with a bag of chips/sleeve of cookies/fill-in-the-blank and realized after a few minutes that we have eaten WAY more than we intended to because we were not mindful.
Whether you are setting the intention to stop ordering take out 5-days a week and set the intention to cooking more meals, scrubbing a toilet more than just once a month and setting the intention to once a week, or setting the intention of decluttering and rearranging the furniture for better flow and conversation… you are making an impact on your life and the life of those around you. These are no small tasks, and they deserve respect. When we tend to the home we are taking a subtle but profound kind of personal responsibility for creating our reality, creating our life the way we want/need it and reaping the benefits of living presently in our own uniquely beautiful, alive and real life.
Take the time to reconnect with your home and the joy tending and creating it can bring. Make time to set intentions to do the things that really matter and make life luscious: tend a garden with someone you love, bake a peach pie from scratch to share, or wipe away the dust of time so your favorite objects shine.
Reframe your home creating tasks as blessings rather than “goals, resolutions, or to-do’s.” Setting aside a day to tend to to your space is a beautiful ritual of self love, connection, nourishment, accomplishment, and fun.
Want to get more intentional with your space? Get my Authentic Design Journal Prompts. Sign up for my newsletter, weekly blog posts, design tips and more, click the 'Sign Up' pop up or the icon at the top right corner of your screen!
Some of you reading this can remember the voicemail left on my store phone late in the summer- if you aren't familiar with it that's okay, the contents of the voicemail were juvenile and filled with jealousy, and aren't worth mentioning here. That very same day a letter was put in the mail that made it's way to the doorstep of the store.
Finding out your husband has been having an affair with a woman, Natalia, a Realtor here in our big/little city...whom I didn't even know existed...who was so gracious to do me a "favor" and send me an anonymous letter exposing their affair 4 months after the fact...and gives a half-assed apology because she can't even sign her letter...
This day changed me. As you can imagine, finding out this information you really only have two choices-
1. Run, and let all of this manifest itself at some other stage in my life, but it's easier to just divorce him and run. Let it change me for the worst, close myself off to everyone to avoid being hurt ever again.
2. Stay, deal with the hurt, and open myself up to everything the Universe is trying to show me with this lesson (because I believe there are lessons in everything). The much harder choice if you ask anyone.
I won't lie, I have spent the last several months somewhere in between both of those options. I have been in some of the darkest places, explored the inner parts of myself that actually scared me. Friends, family, and even my husband (who I will tell you has been working his ass off trying to rebuild from this entire ordeal) have all tried helping me as I sunk lower and lower. I realized I was comfortable sitting here as a victim. it was safe.
A part of me wanted to keep my eyes closed. I wanted to stay hidden in my fear and anger, to sit in my righteousness with my pointing finger, sit in my victimhood. I wanted to defend why my life was so messy, to scream from the rooftops so everyone could hear my hurt. This pain left me frozen for months. Have you ever felt this kind of pain? If so, keep reading.
I thought to myself over and over, "How can I move forward in the kind of work I do- talking to clients about making their inner worlds reflect in their outer worlds when my life is a fucking mess?" Oh yes, there it is...that little voice of self-doubt had reared its familiar head. It whispered, “You’re a fraud. You don’t know who you are or what you’re talking about. You don’t have your own life put together, and everyone will see right through you, you should just give up, do everyone a favor, divorce your husband and run.” So I sat in that anger and hurt longer until that same voice told me, "there is more to this life than what you are choosing, a place of love. There is a place that is eagerly waiting, a place of truth, a place behind the dense hurt and bondage where the real beauty in life awaits."
I finally had to open my eyes and be aware. To be accountable, to be responsible for healing my life. I have had to love myself until I was full- I still am. The dark parts of me that I saw didn't want me to understand that the fingers I have been pointing should have been pointing back at me the entire time.
I had to finally ask myself, "is this pain and anger really worth my misery? Is the price I am paying really worth this one precious life?"
I knew at some point during all of this, the time would come when I would be given the task to let go, the choice to be reborn. Betrayal and the hurt that comes with it, also comes the opportunity to chose whether you stay where you are or surrender. Surrender. I finally learned the art of surrender during this experience, and the art of grace as I let things go. The finding of my true self, becoming reborn again. The unfolding of letting things happen the way they are supposed to happen. To have trust that my life is happening just the way it should be, and sometimes the people we love the most hurt us the most. But if you can sit instead of run, you will see there are beautiful opportunities to grow- it is Source's way of giving you everything this life has to offer, reminding you that you are owed nothing from this life and realize instead you owe it to yourself to be more present in your life, to surrender. To surrender sounds scary, bringing more fear, but it is actually a beautiful divine word. It means to give up, to let go, to let go of the things that no longer serve you, allowing divine grace to enter your life- trust the journey, even when your life is filled with chaos and disharmony. Ride the turbulent waters until you make it to the clear water that awaits...it will happen. Trust that the Universe is rearranging your life to make room for the beautiful gifts that await. Because the truth is, life is messy.
Sometimes on the inside and sometimes on the outside. We are all constantly growing and shifting. Transitioning from one thing to the next. Losing our way and finding it again, over and over, rendition after rendition.
My eyes started to open to the truth, and once they did, that truth can never be unseen again. This is what real awakening looks like.
It is with real awakenings comes an understanding that will allow you to stretch into the wide expansive being you were destined to be. Finding out who your true self is as you follow the pain you are holding until you realize there is noting more for you to do with it. Lay it down, sweet friend. Get out of your own way. Be still, as it is with this stillness you will see the glimpses of who you truly are on the other side of the anger and hurt. Abundance is waiting.
It is here that I learned about forgiveness and that any forgiveness I have experienced at this point in my life isn't because someone else made me let go, it was because I chose to. So the power is mine, just like it's yours. We all want forgiveness to be this practical concept and practice- but the truth is we just complicate things, and I am no different. Except this time I surrendered to the practical explanation of how to navigate through this and forgiveness, for there is an intelligence inside each of us that helps guide us and open our eyes to the wholeness inside us. It is the work of magic and miracles, do not overthink it, for love awaits on the other side of forgiveness. And with that love comes liberation. You must listen to the part of you that no longer wants to suffer. The longing to be more alive regardless of the actions of others, for you are responsible for your life- this one life. I hope you arrive at your freedom as I did, because I forgive them.
After learning of my husband's affair in the manner in which I found out, I have personally come to know this entire process as beautiful. The fabric that makes each of us whole and human.
What I discovered is authentic living and having a beautiful life is not about having a perfect house or a perfect life. It is not some static, ideal state of color coded shoes or a perfectly organized closet. It is about staying connected to heart and home.
Creating daily life rituals with meaning and intention. Celebrating realness and creating foundations that function. Beautiful authentic living is about being real and alive. Paying attention to what makes us happy. Living from a place of joy and play.
It’s about trusting ourselves, supporting ourselves, loving ourselves. It blooms with honesty, vulnerability and truth...and never having to send a letter like I was sent, because when you love yourself you don't seek love from someone else's marriage.
Beautiful authentic living is about flow. It’s not a state of pristine, predictable perfection. Nor a plateau of happiness to strive towards or protect, or closing your eyes when things hurt. It’s about creating a home base that is ever-open, ever-changing, ever-evolving...riding the rough waters and sometimes knowing when it's better to surrender.
Beautiful authentic living happens from the heart. It’s as real as your flesh and blood. As human as your desires…your mistakes…and your dreams.
It is the true, raw, ever-changing beauty of this tapestry called life.
Unique to you and woven with love, and even forgiveness
Beautiful authentic living a wild ride. But one so worth taking.
Author, Candance Toscano
"You can design the life of your dreams and acquire that luxurious, fulfilled and empowered lifestyle you know you have always wanted."