Monday, September 30, 2013

Beef Tips and Gravy - Slow Cooker Recipe

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With the weather turning cooler, I am very excited to 
share this easy slow cooker and freezer friendly meal with you!
Beef Tips and Gravy is tasty and comforting, and I just bet you'll love it.
 Enjoy, y'all :-)

 You Will Need: 

1 to 1.5 lb. package of lean stew meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Campbell's Healthy Request)
1 tbps. minced garlic
1/2 c. frozen seasoning blend (a mixture of diced onions, celery, and bell pepper,
 found in the freezer section with other frozen veggies - I like Pict Sweet brand)
1/2 tsp. thyme (I always add more as I go.)
salt and pepper (to taste)

1/4 c. sour cream (light or fat free is fine - I have also subbed Greek yogurt, 
but since it has such a strong flavor, start with just a small spoonful!)

In a medium slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for sour cream. 
Cook over low heat for about 8 hours, 
or on high for 4-6 (depends on how your machine cooks). 
Once meat is done (chunks will no longer be pink and 
will break apart easily with a fork with no 
gummy appearance on the inside), stir in sour cream. 
Like stroganoff? Add more sour cream. 
(Avoid adding any dairy products to a slow cooker at the beginning 
of cooking time, because they will curdle.)

Serve over rice or, if you make it into stroganoff, wide egg noodles.
We really like green beans as a veggie side for this meal at our house.  

*If you choose to make this as a freezer meal, dump all ingredients except for sour cream
and rice/noodles into a bag -- I find if I use a 1 lb. package of meat, it all fits perfectly
in a quart sized freezer bag with very little air space to squeeze out!*

Feel fancy? Add a small can of mushroom pieces and stems, 
drained,  or my mom's favorite: pearl onions.
 If you hunt, this can be made with a venison roast! 
Cut it in chunks and soak it several hours to remove the gamey taste,  
and then cook as described. 

 It goes without saying that this is also delicious on top of a baked potato,
 and we have also enjoyed it over biscuits or toast, too. 

Please let me know if you try this recipe by leaving a comment! 
It makes me feel all warm and gooey to think that
the same things that bless my little family on a chilly day
might do just the same for yours :-) 

Partying it up with these awesome bloggers:

Met Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Amaze Me Mondays @ Dwellings - The Heart of Your Home
 Inspiration Monday @ twelveOeight
Masterpiece Monday @ Boogie Board Cottage 
Creative Bloggers' Party @ Homemaker on a Dime  
What'd You Do This Weekend @ Recipes and Ramblings  
Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home
Works For Me Wednesdays @ We Are That Family  
What I Whipped Up Wednesdays @ Sugar and Dots
 Whatever Goes Wednesdays @ Someday Crafts

Monday, September 23, 2013

Funky Chickens!

**Big Ol' Disclaimer**
This is not a sponsored post, and I have received nothing 
from The Painter's Cottage for writing it. 
When my friend and I painted our fab Funky Chickens, 
we each paid full price for our experience. 
In other words, I wanna talk about The Painter's Cottage 
just because I think they're wonderful, and 
they're a great small business here in southwest Arkansas!

Painting in a casual atmosphere 
with friends is a hot new trend for a fun outing! 
Here in lower Arkansas, we don't have many diversions -- 
it seems like dinner, a movie, and perhaps bowling are our only options.
However, I am very proud (and lucky!) to report that 
we do have The Painter's Cottage in nearby Smackover,
a relaxing spot for visitors to come with 
friends and family to paint or create crafts.  

My best friend, Mary, had the idea 
for us to get together and paint some amazing 
"Funky Chickens" just before my birthday
this past July, and it was an amazing evening
for us to unwind, create, and chatter.
We truly had no idea what to expect when we arrived.  
As we walked in, Mary and I were greeted by lots of 
unique and colorful canvases on the walls from past painting parties,
and we followed the sounds of ladies 
laughing and talking to the back of the building, 
where tables, canvases, and bottles of acrylic paint waited. 

What I loved best about our painting experience was
 that while Jennifer (owner) guided our paintings from the front of the room,
we were encouraged to choose colors to our liking and make our chickens our own!
Jennifer really takes time to encourage and assist each painter, 
and circles the room many times to check your progress.
Very reassuring and fun to hear her feedback!

The thing I loved second best about our painting experience? 
The room was jumping with music,
and delicious snacks (which are brought potluck style) waited for us!

I already knew I wanted my Funky Chicken to "roost" in the kitchen,
so I picked colors that would coordinate with my other decorations.
Mary chose a softer palette including pastels as well as vibrant tones,
and guess what? BOTH chickens turned out perfectly!
I will never forget the memories or the art that 
Mary and I made for my birthday this year,
and I will always have my Funky Chicken
 perched in my kitchen as a reminder of that fun night.

Framed in a chunky vintage frame I picked up 
at a church rummage sale years ago!
I shall call her Esmeralda ... LOL 
If you live in/around Union, Columbia, or Ouachita Counties,
I strongly recommend giving The Painter's Cottage a try.
It is a refreshing, family friendly change from the ordinary,
and you leave with a great piece of custom art!
Classes are offered for both children and adults.
Prices for classes range from $20.00-$50.00,
and you will be in class approximately 2-4 hours 
depending on level of difficulty.
 Want a private party, or to host a birthday party here? 
The Painter's Cottage offers that, too! 
Current classes may be found via The Painter's Cottage website
via the "Events Calendar" tab, or you may also visit them 
via Facebook here.

I'm partying with these cool chicks!

Anything Blue Friday @ The Dedicated House
Inspiration Monday @ twelveOeight 
Masterpiece Monday @ Boogie Board Cottage
Creative Bloggers' Party @ Homemaker on a Dime  
What'd You Do This Weekend @ Recipes and Ramblings  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kitchen Pennants n' Pinwheels

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Hi guys! 
I haven't given an update lately
on my ongoing low-budget kitchen decor,
so let me show you two quick and inexpensive projects 
I recently completed. 

If you'll remember, in my planning photos 
I wanted to add a pennant banner on this large window
to soften the angles and add color and pattern.
Mission accomplished! 

Here's a close up of the papers I used:

I used this tutorial from the Orchard Girls
(they so rock!! Go visit them!!) to create my banner.
You can do a Google image search for "pennant banner template"
for a variety of sizes of triangles, depending on your needs.
The hardest part was cutting out the triangles -- all 18 of 'em!
I was also able to use sheer teal ribbon I already had 
in my stash, so this was a no-cost project. 

These fun pinwheels are my second addition to the kitchen! 
I used Apartment Therapy's tutorial, found here,
but since I didn't need my pinwheels to spin,
I hot glued them to bamboo skewers instead. 
Oh -- and I used a CD envelope for my template.
I added the button to the center of each to cover the glue blob
and create Maximus Cuteimus.
The pinwheels are nested in this vase of eucalyptus, 
because why not? 
It makes the arrangement fuller and picks up on 
the turquoise color I have incorporated in the kitchen. 
A band of gift wrap paper from Dollar Tree and a little raffia bow
was all I needed to make the vase a little prettier. 

I was able to use the same paper pack from my 
vintage rolling pin canvas art
for both the pennant banner and the pinwheels,
which made these projects free and perfectly coordinated
with what I already had going on! 
Simple and precious - can't beat it :-)

What do you think of my kitchen pennants n' pinwheels? 
Could you see yourself making these crafts for 
other rooms of your house -- 
maybe even for a holiday project? 
Tell me all about it!

This post linked to:

Anything Blue Friday @ The Dedicated House
Inspiration Monday @ twelveOeight 
Masterpiece Monday @ Boogie Board Cottage
Creative Bloggers' Party @ Homemaker on a Dime  
What'd You Do This Weekend @ Recipes and Ramblings 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Roll Your Towels!

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Rolling your towels up and
displaying them in a basket or on the shelf
is an easy, no-cost method
of attaining the spa look that is so popular.
It also results in a special, welcoming feeling
and can give a splash of color.
I like it because it frees up cabinet space, too!

This is how the rolled towels look in my master bath:

I got the blue basket at Goodwill when we were on vacation  
a couple of years ago for just this purpose! 
Look around your house and see if you have anything that might work :-)
Deeper baskets work well to stand up bath towels,
and shallow tray-style baskets are good for hand towels. 
Buckets, decorative boxes, anything -- be creative in choosing a container!

Here is how I store my hand towels in the master bath:

I keep them on the back of the toilet to free up space on my bathroom counter,
and I think they look nice there, too.
That's a repurposed basket that I received a gift in.

First, spread your bath towel out. 
Your towel may or may not have a decorative band at the top like mine. 

If it does, keep it at the top as we fold and roll.
Makes it prettier!

Fold your towel in half twice, making sure that seams are to the inside. 
Keep the tag tucked inside, too. 

Next, flip your towel over with the folded side up towards you, 
and starting from the short end, roll it up ...

...until you finally get a roll like this.

 When you place it in the basket, turn the loose end towards the back. 

That's it! 
You'll need to be sure your edges stay more or less lined up,
but this is easy to fix as you roll.
Washcloths will roll up the exact same way, 
except they will only need to be folded in half once. 
I also only fold my hand towels in half once before rolling,
It will depend on how long your towels are 
and your own preference, of course. 

I roll the washcloths and hand towels in my upstairs bathroom too!

I like to think that it makes things just a bit nicer, 
plus it shows my guests that I anticipate their needs and
want things to be nice for them. 

Do you have any easy, low to no-cost tips
for decorating with what you already have?
I'd love to hear them -- please comment away below!

 This week I'm partying with:

Met Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Amaze Me Mondays @ Dwellings - The Heart of Your Home
Make It Pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House
Mod Mix Monday @ Mod Vintage Life
Inspiration Monday @ twelveOeight
Masterpiece Monday @ Boogie Board Cottage
What'd You Do This Weekend @ Recipes and Ramblings 
Inspire Me Tuesday @ A Stroll Thru Life
The Scoop @ Cedar Hill Ranch
Tuesday's Treasures @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home
Works For Me Wednesdays @ We Are That Family
What I Whipped Up Wednesdays @ Sugar and Dots
Whatever Goes Wednesdays @ Someday Crafts
Fluster's Creative Muster Link Party @ Fluster Buster
Cast Party Wednesday @ Lady Behind The Curtain
We Did It Wednesday @ Sew Much Ado
What's It Wednesdays @ Ivy and Elephants
Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop @ Ducks 'n a Row
Anything Blue Friday @ The Dedicated House

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

French Dip Sandwiches - Slow Cooker Recipe

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This recipe is sooooooo easy and makes a ton of yummy seasoned meat,
 just in time for fall and football season!
You will love making French Dip Sandwiches at home and never order it in a sandwich shop again --
it's that good, I promise!

You will need:
  • 1 2.5-3.5 lb. chuck roast
  • 1 packet of onion soup mix (alternately, you could sub beef bouillion and extra dried minced onion)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. dried minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper (no extra salt, btw, because the soup mix has plenty)
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves (mine were chopped, 'cause that's what I had on hand)
  • 1 bottle of beer, whatever you have around (I have made it w/o beer and it's good this way, too -- the beer just gives a richer taste), OR
  • A couple cups of water, depending on the size of your roast and slow cooker (do not use beer AND water, choose one or the other)
  • Nonstick spray

Spray your slow cooker with the nonstick spray. 
Put the onion soup mix, garlic powder, dried onion, pepper, and bay leaves in there, 
and pour the beer or water over it. Stir to mix.
Put the roast in the mixture, and cook on 8-10 hrs. on low, flipping the roast over 
midway through if possible.

After cooking, remove the roast to cool. 
Using a wire mesh strainer, strain the au jus (which is now what you call your juicy mixture)
 to remove the onion and bay leaves. I stick it in the fridge so that any fat will solidify on the surface.
 Once your roast has cooled enough to handle, slice it and shred it. 
Pour a little au jus over the top to keep the meat moist, and especially for reheating.

We like to toast provolone on sub buns,

pile it high with shredded beef,

and have warm au jus on the side to dip it in.
O ... M ... G. 
Your taste buds will think they've died and gone to heaven,
and you can pat yourself on the back for cooking something so yummy with so little effort!

Another delicious option is to use this meat to stuff baked potatoes!
Leftover au jus is great for making beef gravy and pot pies, too :-)
Ya just can't go wrong - get thee to a grocery and make it this week!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vintage Rolling Pin Art

 photo 19.jpg

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Alert! This post is VERY image heavy -- I wanted to be sure
readers could see exactly what I did, since I couldn't find
any type of project similar online. 
Back in March, my sweet great-aunt gave me a beautiful vintage rolling pin.
I loved it at first sight! It's my first vintage kitchen utensil, too.
The last thing I wanted to do was let this beauty be stashed away and forgotten in a drawer, 
so I had to figure out a way to display the rolling pin in a way to do it justice.
 Voila -- this vintage rolling pin canvas art was born!
 Wanna make it with me?

You will need:
  • one precious vintage rolling pin
  • 12x24" canvas
  • 4 sheets of scrapbook paper in coordinating prints (2 the same, and the other 2 complementary)
  • matte Mod Podge
  • sponge brush
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • ruler and/or measuring tape
  • 3/4" ribbon
  • hammer and nail (about the size of a paneling nail - not too large in diameter)
  • thin wire (stripped from twist ties, or floral wire)
  • tape (painter's, duct, or masking) 
I started with a 12x24" canvas I bought second-hand on Facebook.
It was 1 of 2 canvases in a group of 5 items I purchased for $30, so we'll call it $6. 
I spray painted over the existing design with white paint and allowed it to dry.

As you can see in the top pic, I chose a floral, a geometric,
and a solid scrapbook paper with a slight texture.
Using a sponge brush, I brushed matte Mod Podge all over the canvas, 
fitted the floral paper over the top, and allowed it to dry. 
Next, I cut the geometric print in half, and fitted the two pieces into one long strip.
This gave me a piece that was 6" x 24."
I trimmed this piece to 18" long to allow 3" of the floral print to show top and bottom.
To create the border, I used the ruler's width as a guide to measure my strips
of the red-orange paper, and used the glue stick to stick it 
just under the edge of the geometric paper rectangle.
Using the Mod Podge again, I glued it to the floral paper on the canvas.

Once it was dry, I brushed on two more coats of Mod Podge on top.

With the help of my trusty glue gun,

I glued this fun lime green ribbon (5/8" wide) with a subtle pattern all the way around the edge.
Another great Dollar Tree find!
A little bit of the canvas edge still shows, but not enough to bother me,
and it's not noticeable once it's hung on the wall.

Now that the canvas itself is done, it's time to attach the rolling pin.
I wanted a method that would not harm the pin
and that also would result in the pin being removable if I ever chose.
Any type of adhesive clearly was not an option.

I eyeballed the center of the canvas and laid the rolling pin on top.
Using a pencil, I marked either side of the handles, top and bottom
and drove a nail in each mark.

Next, I clipped off 4 pieces of twist tie, about 10", and stripped the plastic off
so that I was left with only the wire.


I looped the wire around the handle in the front, through the holes,
and twisted it together snugly in the back.

Just in case, I also taped down the wire ends.

TA-DA! All done!
Seems like a lot of work, but it really wasn't that bad ;-)I spaced my project out and Mod Podged one day,
and hot glued the ribbon and attached the rolling pin on the next day.

I hope you enjoyed this Vintage Rolling Pin Art tutorial
and that it inspires you to think of
new ways to display old kitchen utensils
and any other 3-D objects you find beautiful!

This week I'm partying with:

Met Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Amaze Me Mondays @ Dwellings - The Heart of Your Home
Make It Pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House
 Mod Mix Monday @ Mod Vintage Life
Inspiration Monday @ twelveOeight
Masterpiece Monday @ Boogie Board Cottage
Creative Bloggers' Party @ Homemaker on a Dime 
What'd You Do This Weekend @ Recipes and Ramblings

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

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Delicious, healthy, and freezer friendly! Wife tested, husband approved ;-)

You will need:

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla flavoring
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. blueberries (I used frozen -- no need to thaw.)

Preheat an electric griddle to 325, or have a skillet ready and
sprayed with nonstick spray to cook on medium heat.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt, breaking up any lumps.
In a smaller bowl, beat together the egg, milk, vanilla flavoring, and sugar.
Stir these two mixtures together, reserving the blueberries for now.

Using a ladle or small measuring cup, pour batter in about a 4-5" circle onto your griddle or skillet. When you see bubbles begin to form throughout and your edges look dry, like this ...

 photo 86364b39-04c2-44aa-8a9e-44bd1aaf576a.jpg

... then it's time to add blueberries evenly spaced throughout the pancake and then flip one over.
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I do mine this way because the berries' juice can otherwise turn your batter gray, and if they clump together, your batter will stay raw in that spot. Also, using my method, you get a blueberry in every bite! 
 (The delightfully purple fingertips you will have are another bonus ... lol)
When I start to see spots of juice appear on the cooked side of the pancake, like this ...

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... then I remove it to a plate and begin stacking them, always with a bit of butter in between.

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These have a great texture from the whole wheat flour
(still fluffy, but a bit denser).
 I love eating these with a little agave nectar!
Plain whole wheat pancakes are really good
with peanut butter and a little strawberry Polaner All-Fruit, too :-)

I do believe next time I will make these w/ banana nut!

Do you have a favorite pancake recipe?
What about tips for making breakfast healthier? 
I would love to hear about it!

This yummy post is linked to these fun parties:

Met Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Amaze Me Mondays @ Dwellings - The Heart of Your Home
Mod Mix Monday @ Mod Vintage Life
Masterpiece Monday @ Boogie Board Cottage
Make It Pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House
Inspiration Monday @ twelveOeight
Creative Bloggers' Party @ Homemaker on a Dime 
What'd You Do This Weekend @ Recipes and Ramblings 
Mop It Up Monday @ I Should Be Mopping The Floor  
Inspire Me Tuesday @ A Stroll Thru Life
The Scoop @ Cedar Hill Ranch
One Project At A Time @ A Bowl Full Of Lemons
Terrific Tuesdays @ Adventures of a DIY Mom
 Tuesday's Treasures @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Thursday's Treasures @ Chocolate Chocolate and More! 
Catch a Glimpse Party @ A Glimpse Inside
Thrifty to Nifty @ A Jennuine Life
Time Travel Thursday @ The Brambleberry Cottage
All Things Thursday Link-Up @ All Things With Purpose
Open House Party @ No Minimalist Here
Thursday's Treasures @ Chocolate Chocolate and More! 
Thursday's Treasures @ Recipes For My Boys
Hookin Up with HoH @ House of Hepworths