Sunday, September 18, 2011

Goodwill Quickie Redo!

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No "before" pic -- sorry, y'all! I found this cute chicken wire basket with a red gingham liner at my Goodwill for $2. The "Breads" plaques on either side were smudged and dirty, and I wanted to repurpose it for storage in the office/craft room. What to do?

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First, I looked closely at the basket to figure out how the plaques were attached. They seemed to be wired on through tiny holes drilled at top center and bottom of each circle.

They were easily removed, and I pulled out my trusty fleur de lis stamp and Stayz On permanent ink 
to add a new design to the blank back sides of the plaques. 

I really like clear acrylic stamps for when placement is key -- makes it soooo much easier to line things up. Got both the ink pad and the stamp at Michaels. Magnifique!

Now for reattaching the plaques :-) The existing wire was too brittle and broke as I removed it, so to replace it without spending money, I stripped the paper off some bread bag ties and used that wire -- perfect fit! This is one of my favorite frugal tips for crafting -- just soak a paper bread bag tie in water and then use your fingernails to scrape the wet paper off. The resulting wire is helpful for a lot of things: small jewelry repairs, adding ornaments or small decorative items to Christmas garland, etc.

This little project gave me a finished product in less than 15 minutes and the basket looks great sitting on the bookshelves in the office/craft room holding blank CDs, staples, etc. Cute AND easy -- I like it!


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Monday, September 5, 2011

Mega-Cooking Made Easy!

Hey guys!

I love the idea of once-a-month-cooking (OAMC), but I'd rather have flexibility by pre-cooking key ingredients only instead of entire casseroles. 
Also, we don't have the freezer space for casserole dishes, but I can fit a lot in by freezing it flat in bags. Major time saver for cooking after work or getting a meal ready on the night I have class.

Let's look at what I've made to freeze today!

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- 4 bags of seasoned browned ground venison, 1.5 c. each
- 2 bags of seasoned cooked chicken breast chunks, 1.5 c. each
- 24 assorted muffins jazzed up from mixes: oatmeal-raisin w/ cinnamon and walnuts; blueberry w/ real berries added; and raspberry with pear and ginger
- 2 bags of fluffy white rice, 2 c. each (I add salsa, chili powder, garlic powder, and a little chicken bouillon when I want Spanish rice)
- 1-2 c. batch of alfredo sauce

Other things I'm thinking of freezing?

- diced smoked sausage
- pizza dough from my breadmaker
- cooked pinto beans (I can get 3-2 c. portions from one bag of dried beans and actually have one bag of cooked beans already lurking in the freezer from a couple of weeks ago)
- chopped green bell pepper

With these frozen ingredients and some pantry staples, you can cook up A Lot of different things.

Pantry staples:

- diced tomatoes (regular and ro-tel -- I just add garlic and Italian seasoning to plain ones for Italian)
- other types of beans: black, kidney, chili, white (canned or dry)
- 15-bean soup blend
- "cream of" soups
- pasta: spaghetti, rotini, penne, bowtie, egg noodles
- tuna
- spaghetti sauce (can blend with a little tomato paste for pizza sauce in a pinch)
- shredded cheese (not in the pantry, in the fridge :fff: )
- eggs (ditto)
- tortillas

Examples of things that I can cook w/ these items:

- spaghetti
- tater tot casserole
- taco soup
- chicken tortilla soup
- country bean soup w/ sausage
- tuna noodle casserole
- chicken and rice casserole
- chicken alfredo
- red beans and rice
- nachos
- quesadillas (w/ rice and beans!)
- enchiladas
- bean burritos
- pizza: white pizza, hamburger, veggie ...
- quiche

There's of course many more options, 
especially based on your family's likes or special food needs, but you get the picture! 
Have you ever precooked and frozen meals or components of meals? Do tell!


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Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Big Hello After A Big Absence!

Hi folks! Remember me? 
That person who used to sporadically blog a craft project or recipe, 
and then dropped off the face of the earth? 
Yeah, me! 
Well, I'm back and hopefully in a big way. 
But what, may you ask, kept me busy for so long?

Well, I got a Yorkie puppy, Skeeter (insert "awwwww!" here).

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Taking care of this little boogie-tail has definitely been a focus of my spare time, 
and we love to play and hang out together. 
She's my bestest buddy and really keeps me great company 
when DH works late or is out of town.

Also, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 
we had porcelain tile laid in our kitchen and laundry room, 
and laminate installed in our den and office areas.

Sneak peek at the flooring we used (but this is all you get for now!):
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and
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Not sure if I'd recommend this particular time of year for home reno, 
but it worked for us because we've yet to host a family get-together around the holidays 
and thus we didn't have a specific deadline for getting the work and cleanup accomplished. 

The new flooring surfaces have made a big difference in our home, 
and for the first time, my DH seemed a little excited about a home project! 
(WELL worth the money spent, if you ask me.)

I made several Christmas gifts from scratch for family members, 
and that took up most of December. 
Besides the edible gifts of candy and quick breads, 
I also made a set of 5 effusion (or catalytic) lamp scents 
for my mother and grandmother, 
and you can read how I did this in my
 "Scents of Autumn On A Budget" post.

One of my goals for the year is to blog more consistently about recipes I try,
 projects I complete, and even just the ideas I have, 
in an effort to stimulate myself and others in a creative vein. 
Too often we find ourselves wrapped up in the "have-to's" 
and forego the "want-to's" entirely. However, life needs a little sprinkle of "want-to" 
to keep things happy and leave us feeling fulfilled in all areas! 

Let's see what 2011 brings for Big Doll's Boomtown, 
and I hope you'll join me along for the ride :-)