Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh, the talent!

So, I have this amazing sister-in-law named Becky. Not only is she funny, clever, tall and gorgeous- but that girl can craft!

So, this post is all about showing off my favorite Becky!

(I would post a cute pic of Becky and me here, but I haven't downloaded anything from the holidays yet, oops)

Here is her quiet book, totally puts mine to shame! Adorable and very sturdy

The barn doors open, and the animals are printed on fabric with velcro backing

The monkey swings from branch to branch

The frog's tongue snaps to the flies

The alligator's mouth zips open

This fish has a magnet inside him

And of course the caterpillar's circles come off

I know, right?! Love it!

Some of her inspiration came from here.

She also throws a great "under the sea" birthday party

And check out her pantry. Home-canned fruit, jam, pie-filling, salsa and applesauce. (And yes, most of the fruit/veggies came from her own yard!)

Someday I plan on living in the same city, or heck I'd settle for same STATE as Becky!

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Before and After Transformation

Yes, I'm back. Did the whole bed rest, baby in the NICU, daily hospital visits for 2 weeks thing and now that my little man is 7 weeks old I feel life returning to normal and I actually have motivation and energy to do stuff:) But, we're all wonderfully healthy, thanks for asking.

Sometimes when you're walking down the aisles of a thrift store something catches your eye . . .

Do you see the potential too? I mean c'mon!

My husband's exact words when he saw it, "That thing is freakin' ugly."

Even my little boy is trying to destroy it, lol

Well, after some black spray paint, damask fabric and ribbon I ADORE IT!

$2 and 15 minutes later I have this perfect jewelry holder. I hot glued the ribbon on in 1 inch intervals, so the earrings wouldn't slide around.

(And yes, I have a thing for gigantic, dangly, somewhat obnoxious earrings.)

The little bowl at the bottom is perfect for holding my bracelets and flower clips and pins. It hangs on the wall of our master, just outside the closet. Don't worry, my husband retracted the "freakin' ugly" comment, hehe.

I know, I know, you wish it was yours!

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Make your own Frozen Meatballs

I know right? Doesn't that look all sorts of delicious? This is one of my favorite bed rest freezer meals. I have a giant ziploc bag full of mini meatballs in my freezer right now. Hmm, the possibilities. I can serve them with spaghetti, shells, swedish meatballs over noodles, meatball subs, BBQ meatballs over rice, or even sweet and sour meatballs. They are fully cooked, so a quick zap in the microwave is all they need before you add them to the sauce. They taste amazing and I loaded them up with veggies. I've found that if I chop all the veggies really small my little man doesn't notice. I shred spinach really fine, or grate the carrot on the smallest size on my cheese grater. Love these!

Husband Rating: 5 stars

3 lbs ground beef or turkey
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp. garlic salt
3 eggs
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 pkt. onion soup mix
2 of any of the following veggies, minced or finely chopped, 1/3 cup: carrot, zucchini, spinach, green pepper, mushrooms

Combine all the ingredients and stir until smooth. Shape into 1 inch meatballs. Line pan with foil and arrange meatballs. Bake at 400* for 20 minutes. Makes 80 mini meatballs.

To freeze: After the meatballs cool you need to flash freeze them. This freezes each one individually so you don't end up with a giant glob of meatballs stuck together. Sometimes you only need 7-10 from the bag for dinner. Arrange the meatballs flat on cookie sheet and put in your freezer for about 2 hours. Then, put them in your ziploc bag for storage.

To reheat, I just put them in a microwave safe bowl and nuke for about 1 minute. If I'm using them in spaghetti, I just add them frozen right into the sauce and let them simmer with the sauce.

Here is some extra incentive for you to line the pan with foil instead of just cooking spray. What a mess!

What else do you make with meatballs? Hmm, I bet there is some soup that would be good with them too...

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Make your own Frozen Burritos

The credit for these also goes to my mom. Honestly, they are genius! I have four bags of these in my freezer right now. Husband can microwave one in a paper towel and zip off to work, or I can add the toppings and serve them as a simple lunch or dinner. Adore them! The frozen variety have nothing on these babies. I cooked the beans myself, I used my favorite locally grown beef and the best Guerrero tortillas with no lard. Nutritionally there is nothing to fear here. They are inexpensive, easy to make and will last for up to 3 months in my freezer.

Husband Rating: 5 stars
(no joke, since I've been on bed rest he eats one almost every day!:)

For my step-by-step directions to make the beef and bean filling click here.

To make the burritos, simply warm tortillas, scoop in the filling and fold tightly.

You will need to flash freeze the burritos before putting them in ziploc bags. (This is so they don't stick together into one giant glob, you want to take them out once at a time.)
To flash freeze, arrange on a cookie sheet and put in your freezer, uncovered, for about 2 hours. They won't be completely frozen, just enough so they won't stick together. Now you can bag them!

The frozen burritos take 1:30 seconds to perfection. Microwave for one minute, turn over, then go for 30 more seconds. I like to add a handful of cheddar cheese for the last 30 seconds, yum!

Dump on your salsa, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes, whatever you're craving and enjoy the fastest homemade lunch ever.

Small confession: I'm not sure how many burritos you will get from one batch of the beef/bean mixture. Why? Because every time I make it we end up eating so many burritos and snacking on the filling with tortilla chips that I don't get an accurate count. I usually fill 3 ziploc bags, plus whatever we eat that doesn't quite make it. I use the "soft taco" size tortillas.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Final Coutdown

It kind of feels like the final countdown. I'm trying to accomplish as much as I can before this baby comes or I end up on bed rest. I'm a month in to my crazy coupon summer, I'm not doing as good as I want to be, but still saving money.

Here's what I snatched up last week:

5 boxes of Nature Valley Granola Thins= Free

2 pkgs of Dixie paper plates= $3.00

2 packs Twizzler= $.50 each

$4.00 is not bad for all the snacks above, I can't calculate savings since I didn't save my receipt for original price, but still, fabulous! Oh, and the granola bars came with a coupon for free milk, so even cheaper here!

Both of our camping chairs broke last summer, so I found a great deal to get new babies.

2 camping chairs (reg. $10.99) on sale for $7.99

Used 2 20% off coupons

Used 2 coupons for "Free LED flashlight with any purchase"

Thanks Harbor Freight Tools!! (My husband adores that store, anybody else?)

Speaking of husbands, mine celebrated a birthday and he got homemade funnel cakes. Yum!!! I wasn't totally in love w/ the recipe, I felt it was a little too thick, but still delicious with caramel, powdered sugar and cinnamon.

To spoil hubby a little extra I couponed one of his favorite things- Minute Maid Lemonade. I bought 5 cases of the lemonade cans for $5. Hot! (We'll see how long it lasts, we sure cruised through them this 4th:)

I'm still working hard on getting freezer meals ready too. This is a Spaghetti Sausage Nest, it's actually very delicious, I'll post the recipe soon.

In my freezer I have:

4 bags grilled cajun chicken, sliced

4 containers of beef and bean taco filling

1 Spaghetti Sausage nest

1 Funeral Potato Casserole

Not bad right? Today for dinner I'm making homemade chicken nuggets, I'm tripling the recipe and going to freeze the extra. Throw some quick potatoes and steamed carrots on the side and we're in business!

And in between all of that, I'm just getting bigger:)

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Making Beans Your Family Will Eat

I want to share with you the steps to make the most delicious beef and bean taco filling ever. All the credit goes to my mom, who has been making these for years. We use this filling to make our own homemade frozen burritos, tacos, nachos, or anything else Mexican. I love this recipe because you are doing everything from scratch, you get to control the quality of ingredients and how much fat, salt, etc. are added in. Beans are loaded with nutrition, and since there are double the beans to beef, you're saving money. Follow along with me and let me know if you have any questions.

Remember- If you soak and cook your beans correctly you won't have the digestive/gas problems, so yes it takes longer, but it's worth it!

Husband Rating: 5 stars

2 lbs. dry beans (4 cups)

1 lb. ground beef

1 10 oz. can tomato sauce

3/4 cup salsa

3-5 Tbsp. Taco seasoning (or to taste)

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup onion, diced

Note: I like to mix the variety of dry beans I use. Beans come in 1 lb. bags, which is 2 cups dry in each. For this batch I used 2 cups of pinto beans, 1 cup of black beans, 1 cup of red beans. Mix it up however you want, just equal 4 cups.

Step 1: The soak. I always start my beans Tuesday night before bed, and serve the finished product Friday for dinner. That should give you a good idea of the timeline. I know it seems time consuming, but remember most of that time they're just sitting on your counter, no work involved:) You always want to soak beans overnight, always. I place mine in a huge bowl, cover with water and head to bed. Easy!

Step 2: Sprout. A lot of bean-makers skip this step, but it's worth people! Did you know that by sprouting your beans you can almost double the nutrition? I let mine sprout all day Wednesday and Thursday and they are good to go. Can you see it in the picture? The beans open and a little sprout pokes through. So, after they've soaked all night I rinse them really well and place them in a spaghetti strainer. I put a towel underneath and let them sit in the strainer for 2 days. Every 3 or so hours when walk by I give them a little shake and run a little water over them. Don't bother waking up during the night though, they'll be fine:) Can you handle this?

Step 3: Quick Boil. This is a step you don't want to skip. I do this Friday morning, right before tossing the beans in the crockpot. In this step you get rid of all that lovely gas-causing slime. It's easy to do, just boil it right off. I put the beans in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. You will notice a white, foamy, slimy stuff float to the top. This is the scum you want to get rid of, can you see it in the picture? Just use a spoon and scrape it off. Get as much as you can, then rinse the beans again in your strainer.

Step 4: Cook 'em up. I recommend using your crockpot, it's just easier. Dump in your beans, pour in enough water to cover the beans and toss in 3 or so cloves of garlic. I put them on high for 6 hours. They will start smelling really delicious after 4 hours or so. I never add salt to the beans, they do taste pretty bland at this stage, but you'll add the oomph later.

Step 5: Taco time. Cook 1 lb. of ground beef in your skillet, drain any grease. Add onion, we love red onions here.

While the beef is cooking, strain your beans and mash them. I don't bother with a puree, just a potato masher for a few minutes works great.

Into the pot add your mashed beans, tomato sauce and salsa. Mix thoroughly. Add your taco seasoning to taste. Some people like a lot of the saltier taco flavor, while I prefer a little less. Just add and stir until you get the taste you like.

This is what your finished beef and bean mix looks like. I will serve some type of yummy taco/burrito for dinner, and put the remaining mix in 2 cup ziploc containers to freeze. This will stay delicious in your freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, I just take it out the night before and let it thaw in the fridge, then microwave until warm to serve.

Step 6: Serve. This is one of our favorite ways to eat the mix, in crunchy tacos. Warm the shells in the oven, then fill with a spoonful of the taco mix. Add lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and your other favorite toppings.

I'm making another batch of beans this week and I will be making homemade frozen burritos. I tried to take pictures last time, but they just disappear too fast!

Any questions? Great ideas for the mix? Let me know in the comments!

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

2011 Primary Program

I just put the finishing touches on our 2011 Primary Program.

If you are interested in seeing a copy, shoot me an email at camillescasa(at)yahoo(dot)com and I will send over the word doc.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coupon Attack Continues . . .

I'm still determined to stock up my pantry in 3 months, but this week wasn't anything miraculous. There were good deals on things like cake mixes, brownie mixes, frosting and sugar cereals, but I passed them by. I didn't pass my glucose test for gestational diabetes, so I'm not eating sugar for 3 months. (Well, I will avoid sugar as much as possible, let's be real:)

My first stop was at Staples. I'd never couponed there before, but I will be back.

2 rolls Scotch tape, FREE (reg. $1.99 each) = 0

2 packs colorful pens, .35 cents each (reg. $3.99 each) = .70 cents

Albertsons was good to me also.

1 pkg. Dananino yogurt, .49 (reg. $2.49) = .49 cents

1 bottle Garnier Fructis shampoo, .50 (reg. $2.50)= .50 cents

2 pkgs. Lance Sandwich Crackers, FREE (reg. 2.75)= 0

And let's not forget Kohls. I loooove Kohls, they have the cutest jewelry and little boy clothes. I got this super fun necklace, regular price $22 for .85 cents. Wa pow!

So, I spent $2.50 on all the above items

And I saved $39.20 this week.

(But, let me be honest, I wouldn't have bought that necklace for $22, well maybe in my former life as a rich/carefree single girl, but not now. I wouldn't have bought expensive yogurt or the crackers. I only got the tape since it was free, I will use it, but it's not like essential. So, not my best week, but still fun to score some freebies.)

And what am I up to this week? I'm getting these beans ready to be turned into the yummiest beef and bean taco meat you've ever tried. I'm documenting with photos as I go, but be watching for my post on how to make beans so your family will eat them!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Attack of the coupons

I've been a casual couponer for the last couple of years, I've even posted several of my great deals on this blog. Well, I've decided that I need to go a little crazy this summer with coupons. This winter was my husband's shop's worst ever. No really, he was one of the only guys not laid off, and his paychecks were sometimes half of what we normally get. We used almost every bit of food storage that we had, and it's a good thing we had it. Now that it's summer and they are busy again I feel it's very important to stock up and get my pantry shelves full again.

So, my goal is to stock my entire pantry and garage shelves in 3 months. I'm having a baby in 3 months, and that's usually when the extra overtime pay stops. I want canned food, cereals, pastas, flour and things like that, but I also want to stock up on toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels, ziploc bags, everything we use.

I've never subscribed to the paper before, but I bought a 3 month subscription last week. For $17 a month I get a daily paper and 5 sunday papers. This is so if there's a good deal I get it 5 times instead of just once. I've invested $51 in this, so I need to save waaay more than that to make it worth it. Here is what I've done so far:

10 boxes of Ronzoni pasta from Albertsons, .15 cents each (reg. 2.17) = $1.50

1 Gillete fusion razor from Walgreens .89 cents (reg 9.89) = $ .89

Saved: $29.20

Spent: $2.39

Not bad for one week. I will check back in and let you know how I'm doing. Food storage in 3 months!!

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Last-minute Lesson Series

I want to share some of my favorite last-minute lessons. It's a reality in primary right, nobody prepared sharing time, there's 10 minutes leftover, piano player is sick, or teachers or subs are no-shows. I've been in primary for 4 years now, and I've learned to keep a stash of simple/fun lessons in my bag. These work for simple sharing times and can be adapted to a longer class time or even use in Family Home Evening.

Here are the first in my series of last-minute lessons. Enjoy!

Lesson: Establish a House (D&C 88:119)

This lesson is fun for all ages, and you can really challenge the older kids to memorize the scripture. The younger kids, of course, love to color the picture. I have one printed on cardstock, colored and cut into a puzzle. We search the room for the hidden pieces, put it together, and talk about each piece. Handout the house coloring page and color. Simple!

Click here for the blank house coloring page.

Lesson: Jonah and the Big Fish

This is another fun lesson, especially for the younger kiddos. You can tell or read the story of Jonah, and I use my colored cardstock cutouts for this. Make sure to cut a little slit up the whale's mouth so Jonah can really go inside. Talk about courage, faith and being obedient, sing Follow the Prophet and handout the coloring page. A winner!

Click here to download printable Jonah page.

Lesson: 3 Card Match (Easter Version)

This is a fun concept, and you can use it for many subjects, this one happens to be for Easter. The game is called 3-card-match, it's easy enough for little kids, but I find my senior primary gets in to it the most. Print off the cards, there are 2 of each picture to the Easter story. I use the music stand to play, but you could also use a flannel board or chalkboard. Place 3 cards face down, one child gets a chance to turn over 2 cards, their goal is to get a match. If they don't get a match, turn them over, make a show about mixing them up and it's another child's turn. If they match, take those cards out, tell that part of the story, and add more cards to the game. You can compete girls/boys, teachers/kids, classes, or just have them try to match them as a group.

You could make a fun set of cards for missionary work, temples, prophets, a million fun topics. I find that 11 or 12 matches takes the time. For younger children when they get a match you can tell that part of the story, for senior primary I make them tell ME the part of the story before getting the point.

Click here to print the 3 Card Match Easter Game. (It's 6 pages, be patient, and you'll want to print on cardstock)

If you have a favorite last minute lesson to share, or have questions or suggestion please leave a comment or contact me at camillescasa(at)yahoo(dot)com

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