10-Minute Chili


On the day we arrived, California was cold and grey. But, our little Jacob (7 years old) had been making plans. For ten days straight, he hadn’t asked me to tell him bedtime stories. He wanted to tell bedtime stories to me.

“First, when we get to Cali-forna, I’m gonna get the boogie board. Then, I’m just gonna grab it and run right into the water and just, like, totally jump on it and ride it and be like ‘YEAH!'”

We tried explaining that no one–and we meant NO ONE– goes to the beach on a day such as the one on which we’d arrived. It’s too windy, we said. It’s so chilly, we said. No one will be there. But, Jacob had his plan. He’d set his goal. And, now we were employed as his vacation chauffer’s to drive him to the destination of his dreams.

Like magic, there was parking just off of 32nd, near the Balboa Pier. “See?” We reiterated, “NO ONE is going to be at the beach. It’s too windy. It’s too cold. Let’s go home and try again tomorrow.”

With the car idling along the curb while we proferred our measly defense, Jacob jumped out, grabbed the boogie board, and ran through the wind and cold until ocean water icked it’s way around his ankles, across bellybutton, around his chest. Waves moving their way in and out and around his goosebumped arms, his chattering teeth, his wild grin. “Mom! Dad! This is A-MAZE-ING!”

Wave after wave after wave, John and I would watch that son of ours soak in the gloriosity of summer, marveling at the beautiful release of freedom flow from his fingertips.

When finally it was time to call the children in, we wrapped clean towels around their shivering shoulders, kissed their sand-sprinkled hair. Time to get them home. To get them comfortable and cozy. To feed them something warm. We started walking back to the car. But then, Jacob stopped.

He dropped his clean towel into the sand, lifted the boogie board high above his head, and yelled over his shoulder, “Just one more, mom!”

So we all stood, wet towels waving in the ocean air, toes caked with sand…watching Jacob.

It was too windy to be at the beach. It was too cold to be at the beach. But, there we were. And, I realized, watching that little Jacob ride atop a wave and slide it into shore, that he was at home.

Which suddenly made everything feel all sorts of warm and wonderful. It’s remarkable, really–watching your children settle into their element, accomplish their goals, boogie board through their dreams. Not to mention the smile flashed my way as a certain seven-year old ran sopping from the water, straight into my outspread arms.

“That was SO COOL, Mom!”

Yeah, buddy. It sure was.


Ten Minute Chili
Inspired by my father-in-law’s infamous Halloween chili, this is the quickest bowl of chili you’ll ever make. It’s also ridiculously simple, and so good. It’s our go-to meal for simple lunch’s and dinner’s on cloudy days. Which, as it turns out, has been an awful lot this summer. Do be sure to serve it with buttered saltine crackers, for the ultimate quick & cheap comfort food.
1 lb. ground chicken
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 can of Pork & Beans
1 can of Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
In a large pot, brown ground chicken and onion in olive oil. Add all remaining ingredients, heat just until boiling, stirring well to keep chili from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of sharp cheddar cheese and a dollop of Cilantro Sour Cream (finely chop 2-3 Tbsp. of cilantro, then stir it into 1/2 cup of sour cream). Enjoy!

What’s Your Go-To Meal for a Quick, Healthy, Budget Friendly Dinner?