Lil' Laurie's Chili Recipe

The season is having a party; trees are dressed in burnt orange and mustard yellow. Confetti falls as leaves on lawns and neighborhood streets. An early dusk welcomes kids inside to the smell of dinner on the stove. This party has to happen, I mean the dates are on the calendar. Except for one minor detail: Fall has forgotten to RSVP. A bit rude, if you ask me!

Here we are, smack dab! in the middle of November days wearing tank tops and still rocking flip flop tans!

It makes me nostalgic for Central Coast seasons; driving to work through the wineries, vineyards aflame with Autumn, my breath miniature smokestacks in the crisp morning air. Or, I'd prefer to live next door to Mandy, her plantation North Carolina home surrounded by the smell of logs in a fire, chimneys blowing vertical smoke, rust leaves crunchy underfoot. It is there that Fall has confidently responded to the seasonal invitation, is not only attending, but has taken its place as life of the party.

I long for chilly days requiring plum scarves and mocha boots, coats and car heaters and breath you can see. Fall hints only at night, when the air dips just enough to don a sweater and maybe boot socks. Even that, a small turn from summer, but I'll take it. I'll drink it in and murmur thanks for this mild fall. When the rest of the country is surviving floods and hurricanes, lost homes and extensive power outages, my mind knows, believes! that we on the warm west coast have nothing to complain about.

So we celebrate, we lift our glasses to life, regardless if Fall has accepted the Seasonal Party Invitation or not. We cheer today ~ whether scalding or brisk, and thank God for another morning, gifted moments to breathe in creation and exhale gratitude.

Sunday evening surprised - chilly and windy- the air finally wore Fall. Over the pot my husband combined- chili and kidney beans, tomato sauce and chili spices- into the cast iron dutch oven. The aroma of my mom's, {aka Lil' Laurie} Chili recipe consumed our home, floating down the hallway, filling rooms, seeping under doorways, and greeting our neighbors. Simmering meat and stewed tomatoes, cornbread and honey beckoned the season!

Chili is one of those hearty recipes, a comfort food from childhood days. One pot feeds an army, the perfect meal when hosting a larger dinner party. It's also the ideal recipe to share with neighbors and new friends. Thus the inspiration for a new Fall Family Tradition began: Gratitude Gifts for our neighbors in the form of Lil' Laurie's Chili Recipe Cards tied to our favorite cornbread mix!
{We love Trader Joe's Cornbread Mix, but for those of you without a TJ's close by, we also enjoy Marie Callender's Cornbread Mix}

Join our family tradition and start the Gratitude Gift Tradition with your family today!
Gift neighbors and friends, co-workers and church nursery workers.

You can print Lil' Laurie's Chili Recipe below:
With twine, tie the Chili recipe to your cornbread mix of choice and... voila! Gratitude Gift!

Whether it's 90 degrees or 19, your Gratitude Gift will be a true reminder of this Fall Season: Thankfulness!

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies;
but let the thankful heart
sweep through the day and,
as the magnet finds the iron,
so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!

Henry Ward Beecher

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