Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday: Restaurant Refried Beans from a Can

I have, for years, eaten terrible refried beans from a can. I had no idea how little it takes to transform an ordinary (and honestly awful) can of refried beans into a wonderful side for your Mexican food that tastes as good as your favorite restaurant.

Ingredients
*1 can refried beans
*grease from 4 slices of cooked bacon (not healthy, I know- but amazing!)
*1 1/2 tsp chili powder
*1 Tb onion salt
*1/2 Tb cumin

All you have to do is heat the refried beans over medium heat and mix in the bacon grease and seasonings. It makes all the difference and it tastes like heaven. I have never before had refried beans at home that I wanted to eat. They're delicious! And because of the bacon grease, you may want to enjoy them sparingly... but all things in moderation!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday: Online Couponing Made Easy

Couponing. Sometimes I feel like it's synonymous with being a stay-at-home mom. Most of the stay-at-home moms I know coupon, either extreme-coupon style, or just a few diaper coupons here and there. I must say, it's those extreme couponers that give me major guilt. You know, when they brag about the two cases of green beans that they bought for a dollar each... So, it's only natural that I would coupon.

However.

I coupon with moderation.
 
Here, you'll find a basic compilation of the most useful websites for couponing and save you from the headache of searching, downloading, and sifting through hundreds of thousands of websites that are far from useful.

There are many websites telling you about various deals, sales, coupons, and perfect ways to combine them- but I mean it when I say there are MANY websites. Let me give you the top four websites that actually have coupons, and not just a list of sales.

Websites With Coupons
(Most require you to install a coupon printer- do so at your own discretion. Oftentimes, the website will try to piggy-bag a program or two on the coupon printer so that you will unknowingly install extra programs. To avoid this, watch the download steps very carefully and make sure to uncheck any extra program you don't want to download.)
1. Coupons.com 
Coupons.com is probably the most popular coupon website, as it has the greatest variety of coupons. Most coupons have a print limit, generally only allowing two or three printings per coupon. Coupons are added and taken off daily, so it can be helpful to get on a few times a week (if and ONLY if you have the time)

2.SmartSource.com

 SmartSource.com has a medium amount of coupons available at any given time, but their grocery coupons are mixed with a large amount of random website coupons, i.e. entering into a vacation raffle, buying flowers on line, etc., so expet to spend some time sorting through them all.

3. RedPlum.com 

RedPlum.com doesn't have as many useful coupons available as Coupons.com, but it does have a fair amount of coupons. It also has a nice feature where you can either print the coupons directly or load them onto a card for use at the store, which requires no clipping/printing.

4. CouponCabin.com 

While CouponCabin.com has many deals and coupons, it is a bit harder to navigate. It doesn't have as many direct coupons available, but the ones it does have are really useful. It can take some time to go through and find what is available, which is why it is number four on the list.

Websites With Couponing Information

There are seemingly infinite websites teaching, informing, and directing you in how to use coupons, where to use coupons, where to find coupons- it can be overwhelming. I was going to give you a few options, but, honestly, combined with the websites for printing coupons above, all you need is CouponMom.com

CouponMom.com
 

I can definitely give CouponMom.com the top ranking for websites that teach you to coupon. Its main features are that it features the ads of every area/state in the United States for nearly every store. All you have to do is create an account with them, select an area, and select the store where you want to shop (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, WinCo, etc.), and it will automatically show you a listing of that stores best ad prices, matched with coupons that are available. For example, if you select Target in Delaware, it would show you that Chef Boyardee pastas are on sale for .99 each, and that there are coupons available for .50 off of 1. (if it is an online coupon, CouponMom will also include a link to where the coupon is located) Then, it will show you the final price of .49 each. Helpful? Heck yes! Especially when you consider that it shows ALL of the ad prices for ALL stores in an area, combined with the best coupons available. Sweet!

An example of some of the great information available on CouponMom.com

Hope this helps start you on your way! Start saving a few bucks.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday: DIY Quiet Book

I made this little quiet book for my baby girl for Christmas. I'll be honest, going through her hands (she likes to chew on books- guess she's hungry for knowledge?) I'm no sure how long it will last, but I loved how it turned out and wanted to share it in case you are making a quiet book, too, but are short on ideas.

Materials
*blank board book
*permanent markers
*stamps
*colored construction paper
*various printed scrapbook paper
*embroidery floss*washi tape
*reflective paper
*wood glue
*clear tape
*various 3-D objects (for the cover)
*card stock stickers

I'll give you a few how-to's for each page, but I mostly just want you to be able to look at my pages and see if it gives you ideas for your own book for your own little one. Good luck!

Front Cover
Buttoms on scrunched cloth, felt shapes, raised letters, and washi tape on the
right (covered washi tape with clear tape for extra protection)

Flowers are from a scrapbook print paper, washi tape for stems and surrounding edges.
Washi tape on edges secured with extra clear tape
Fish page is made up of little fish I cut out of textured cardstock (to make them fun
to touch) and the jelly fish has a few strings of embroidery floss wood-glued on,
then covered with the jellyfish itself
Textured shapes on the right, two colors, so you can focus on learning the shapes
Rainbow string page, I attached each piece with clear tape on the top and bottom,
then re-inforced the whole thing with a ton of wood glue and the blue piece of
paper on bottom and top. Bonus? Stretch the thread tight and it'll give a quiet
 'ping' sound when your child flicks it
Left is reflective paper glued on adn then surrounded with washi tape (reinforced
with clear tape, of course)
Right is pink scrapbook paper and sticky die-cut shapes, so they are raised up
from the page and fun to touch
Alphabet stamps colred in on the left, and circles with numbers on the right-
makes it easy to learn counting, right?
Simple enough- colored rectangles to practice learning colors. The right is a heart
where a picture of my baby girl goes, I just haven't put it in yet- so then she can
lookat it and say, "Ah, my mama loves me".... ok, she won't say that, but I will
certainly tell her that's why I put her picture in the heart

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday: Perfect Peanut Brittle

I confess, I used the recipe with cashews and
this is actually cashew brittle....
I am an avid candy maker, especially in the winter, when I'm cooped up at home, just staring at bags of sugar and corn syrup bottles, wondering what I can make. Through some trial and error, I have found a fail-proof (and I do mean fail proof!) method for making a perfect peanut brittle. It doesn't take a lot of time or a lot of fancy ingredients. I can guarantee you will have a hard time enjoying any other brittle once you've made this.

Ingredients
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups water
1 pound Spanish peanuts (or cashews....mmmm.... cashew brittle....)
1 Tb baking soda

Spanish peanuts

Not too extensive of a list, right? And the directions are about as simple.

Step 1
Take a cookie sheet with sides and grease lightly with vegetable oil

Step 2
In a large pot, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium to medium-high heat. Boil that sucker. If it is boiling too high (as in it seems like it is going to overflow the pan), turn the heat down. You want a constant boil, but nothing crazy. Stir every few minutes and wash the sides of the pan down with a pastry brush soaked in water

Step 3
Keep on stirring and boiling. Every 5-7 minutes, take a spoonful of your candy mix and pour it into icy cold water. If the mixture is soft and pliable, keep cooking.

Step 4
Once the mixture, upon hitting cold water, becomes hard and brittle (get it, brittle? I'm hilarious) and is the texture you want your peanut brittle to be, remove your pot from the heat and add the peanuts and baking soda. This stage of brittle candy is called the crack stage and should look like this -> when you pull it out of the water. (thanks to PinkPolkaDotCreations.com for a nice picture capturing what it looks like). Mix vigorously and quickly, QUICKLY spoon onto your greased cookie sheet, using a wooden spoon to spread the mixture evenly.

Step 5
Allow to cool. Then, once totally hard, smash that baby up with a mallet, knife, your hands, or whatever you want, and enjoy yourself some of the best brittle you'll ever have.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wednesday: Need a Laugh?

Let's see how close your humor and mine are- because this made me laugh. Out loud. For real. Not just 'lol'.
"By the way..."
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