Saturday, December 11, 2010

Traditional Green Bean Casserole Made Better

After Thanksgiving as the leftovers disappeared, I found myself craving more Green Bean Casserole. You know the one, smothered in Cream of Mushroom soup and topped with crispy French's French Fried Onions! As I gathered the ingredients needed, I noticed on the back of one of my Cream of Mushroom soup cans (but not the other can I had), there were variations to the recipe. One option being bacon and another being cheese. Um yes, hello, it had to be both not one or the other! Fortunate for me, (who hates cooking bacon) I had some in the fridge from my dear husband's pancake breakfast from that morning. Cheese is always on hand at my house! So that was not a problem to add cheese! We are a family under the spell and belief that cheese makes everything better! Here is the simple variation that I highly suggest you give a try for your Christmas meal!

Are you ready? Prepare the casserole as the back of the soup can or French's French Fried Onions container suggests and also mix in bacon pieces and cheese. When the time comes to add the remaining Fried Onions to the top, first top with more cheese and then the onions and return to oven. Nothing more simple than that for once again what I called, "heaven in my mouth."

Ingredietnts needed for your shopping list:

2 cans (14.5 oz.) cut green beans or french style cut green beans
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 1/3 cups French's Original French Fried Onions
Three to four pieces of cooked bacon crumbled
Grated cheddar cheese

Merry Christmas to your taste buds!

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Layered Beef Casserole

I am on my fifth pregnancy and for the first time in all my life, all I think about is food! I am by no means a foodie, but I do enjoy a good meal. I just have never had my thoughts consumed by what I may consume until now. Accompanying this pregnancy have also come very strong cravings, so I have been busy in my kitchen throwing together things that sound good and calling it dinner. Each time my creation has been what I call at first bite, "heaven in my mouth."  Here is one of my recipes I came up with (at least I think I did since I have never had it or come across it before). I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did.

Layered Beef Casserole

Ground beef
Ground cumin
Roasted garlic and herb Grill Mates McCormick seasoning
Fire roasted diced green chiles (2 cans)
Cream of Mushroom soup (2 cans)
2 cups Sourcream
3 TBS. Milk
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips
Avocado (optional)
Tomato (optional)
Shredded iceberg lettuce (optional)

In frying pan saute onions with ground beef as it browns. Season the beef, onion mixture, before it browns, with the following spices to your taste and preference; salt, pepper, ground cumin and the Grill Mates seasoning.
When the beef is brown and the onions are soft, turn stove down to simmer and add one can of the Cream of Mushroom soup. Then add one can of the fire roasted green chiles and mix well together.
In a baking dish layer in the following ingredients, repeating the layers. First layer the beef mixture, top with tortilla chips, top with cheese and repeat.
In a separate bowl mix one can of Cream of Mushroom soup, sour cream and milk, until the mixture is a thick sauce consistency. Then mix in one can of the fire roasted diced green chiles. Pour the sauce over the top and then top with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minuets.
Serve and top with the optional ingredients: avocado, tomatoes and or shredded lettuce.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thanksgiving

A great deal has changed for me personally since the last time we all met here. I entered my previous post, left for vacation and then returned home with the knowledge that another precious baby is to born to our family. Exciting news indeed, just very unexpected and took me by complete surprise, leaving me in shock for days! I have now entered my second trimester and life around my Created Home seems to be resuming back to order.

I would like to share with you some of the things I have been up to. Let us begin with Thanksgiving. I was a little behind the rest of the world in getting ready to receive dinner guests into our home for Thanksgiving. I found this out when I ventured into the stores in search of festive fall table decorations, only to find, Christmas was all around me. Thankfully, my thrifty finds did not break the bank, since the only things in stores were the clearance items. Maybe not what I had originally envisioned for my table scape, but I do have to say all turned out beautiful and festive.
Bought these sunflowers on clearance for $3.49!  

I did not have enough napkin rings so I tied them up with sparkle ribbon.

The table runners I bought on clearance, but the two different colors worked for my tables.   

The hanging plate shelf was one of my thrifty garage sale finds!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beyond Peanut Butter

As a homeschooling mom I take whatever help I can get when it comes to easy lunch ideas. I love peanut butter, but you can only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for so many days, before boredom sets in and the kids are saying "not peanut butter again!" So anything that is as easy as slapping peanut butter on bread is going to be a great alternative for me. I am not a "foodie" so I do not think in food. When it comes to being creative in the kitchen, it is a stretch for me. I do enjoy a good challenge, so I am setting out to think beyond peanut butter and see what fun, easy lunch ideas I can come up with. Not that we eat
PB and J every day, I am of course exaggerating, for those who gasped and thought, oh my, those poor kids!
On yesterday's menu: frozen California Pizza Kitchen Thin Crust White Pizza! Cooks in only 8 minuets and then YUM! I topped it with fresh tomatoes to make an easy meal even better! Since this type of pizza is not a favorite among three of my four girls, I also made bean and cheese burritos. A matter of minuets as well! Since the oven was on and I like to be as economical as I can, I decided to make banana chocolate chip muffins. I had some ripe bananas on hand that I planned for banana bread, but the time involved in bread from scratch, I just did not have. So instead I used the assistance of  a box mix, added some ripe bananas, extra milk chocolate chips and a splash of pure vanilla extract. Some muffins were then topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkles for an extra fun treat.
Part of creating home is creating fun memories! Sometimes memories touch our taste buds. To eliminate stress for me as mom, with so much on my "plate" between being teacher and meal provider, means easy things to eat. Easy does not have to lack in communicating "you are special and we are having fun through food."  So a day like yesterday accomplished that fun, excited feeling for my girls and it was all done in minuets!
I hope this has encouraged you, as it has me to keep being creative in our homes. Even when it comes to meals. Keeping the stress low and the fun experience high means creating a home you and your family want to be a part of.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unfinished Basement Turned Home

I write this with mixed emotions of sadness and excitement. For the past seven months we have had some of our very dear friends living with us. They now are "spreading their wings" and flying away to their own apartment. I am so excited for them to have their own place... a place where quiet days off exist and silent moments reside. Something a young married couple has the blessing of experiencing. As for our home with four little girls those times are few and far between. I am sad because we love them so very much and they truly are like and aunt and uncle to our girls. We have greatly enjoyed having them in our home and in our lives on a regular basis. Thankfully they are staying close by so seeing them often will still be possible.
I shared with you in a previous post (The Classy Classroom), how my classroom was in the basement and then needed to move due to friends moving in. I now would like to share with you how an unfinished basement can be transformed into a cozy and inviting living space. At the age I am and the stage in life I am, living in an unfinished basement just is not something I would do. However for a twenty something trying to save money, it could not be a more perfect place. What a great blessing for them this arrangement has been.
My sweet friend allowed me to set up her new home. The pictures below reveal what I came up with while using her things (minus the antique table that is my treasure waiting for some TLC). Living out The Created Home! Enjoy!
Cement walls means very challenging to hang anything. My solution, heavy duty Velcro. Nothing ever fell off the walls!
 My friend and running partner. Picture taken after a race... what fun we have living out life! Can not wait to witness and or help her decorate her new place. That is if she will have me! Smile, smile!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Living Room Update

A friend of ours came over the other night for Bible Study and his comment to me, "a blind man could not live in your house." He was making reference to the fact that my living room has changed once again! The furniture is rearranged and curtains have been hung! Finally! The hold up has been the ridiculous cost involved in curtain rods for five windows! I just could not nor would not spend a fortune on a "stick" that attaches to the wall!
I found all the curtain rods I needed for the windows you see here, as well as the adjacent dinning room window for the wonderfuly cheap sum of $23.00 at Ross.  I hung every rod by myself, so that is a great sense of accomplishment for me. It also explains the lack of perfection too!
What a difference curtains make in a room! I love the cozy, warm feel fabric framing a window does for my senses! I just feel more relaxed in my living room simply by hanging curtains! The other great benefit is, the curtains help to break up the paint color that surrounds me in the vast majority of my home. I find my eye needs what I call "color breaks". I need different colors for my eye to fall upon as I scan a room. When unable to paint, curtains are a great color break for the senses!
A little information: The curtains I have had since my husband and I were first married nine years ago. They are in perfect condition and I still love them so I just had to use them once more in this home. The original throw pillows have since been laid to rest! I made the current ones myself. The matching pillows were made from napkins my mom gave me when I originally purchased the curtains.The lamp shade and other throw pillows match because they also were created by me. These pillows were my first attempt at sewing a zipper and I do have to say to my shock, it works! Not to be closely examined by my mom who is an amazing sewer! Oh and last but not least, the flower arrangement hanging on the antique door... yes all me! I know there is no limit to my talent! Okay I am cracking myself up. See if I can fumble my way through creating a home I enjoy you can too! After all it is your home, a place for you to be yourself!
Notice all my terrific yard sale treasures around the room?

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dollar Frame Gets New Purpose

I found this frame at a yard sale for $1.00. What to do with a picture frame that is missing the glass? Well what I did with this particular one is, turn it into a flannel board or felt board by using burlap fabric. Flannel and felt are not the most attractive fabrics that is for sure, but they are pretty fabulous in conveying a story to a young child. I have many flannel board stories and learning tools for my classroom. I wanted a permanent fixture in my classroom that I did not hate looking at. My solution was burlap because I like the texture. Also with burlap versus flannel, at a later date I can re purpose this burlap covered frame for a message or display board by adding ribbon or some sort of clip hanging system to the fabric. 
All I did was cut the fabric, leaving enough to overlap to the back of the board. Then I  hot glued the fabric edges to the back edges of the picture frame back board. Simple as that for a really great and fun result!

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hunting for Treasure

Here are the treasures I found on my last yard sale adventure... expedition is more like it really. One of the yard sales I went to was 40 minuets away from my house, one of those tricky addresses even for a GPS to find. We turned and U-turned, drove up and down streets and then at long last found our hidden location. A true treasure hunt!
The yard sale was put on at an adorable farm house by three friends joining forces. I got to meet two of the three ladies, only to find we are all from Southern California. We all grew up just towns apart from one another. They grew up in the same town unaware until meeting in Colorado! How crazy is that? What a great blessing it is to also find the treasure of people at these yard sales I am visiting.
The other yard sale I set out for, I spent over an hour there. Not shopping, but chatting with the sister of the yard sale hostess. She also is a mom who has four daughters my girls ages, but to top it off she has a three month old baby boy! She too is a homeschooling mom, so needless to say we did not lack for things to talk about!
 I am thankful for each treasure I found, as they will forever remind me to pray for the fabulous ladies I had the blessing to meet while treasure hunting. Friendship is a much greater joy and treasure than any material thing this world has to offer. I look forward to whom else I may meet on my next hunt!
The glass bottles they gave me for free... just to bless me! They did just that! These were the treasures from yard sale "chat a lot"!

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Friday, September 17, 2010

A Classy Classroom

Our home is more than just our home, it is also the main place of education for our children. Homeschooling four different age children is a challenge, but one I thoroughly enjoy. When I set out to take on the full time role as teacher to my girls, I was set on needing to have a proper classroom. Last year we made a very official classroom in our basement... unfinished basement. Coming from California, we do not have basements like we do here in Colorado, so I had no idea just how cold it would be down there in the  winter. That became a challenge in and of itself, so we began meeting at the kitchen table. A very common place among home school families. However I noticed not only for the children but for me as well, we were given to more distractions. Also during this period of time, we opened our home to some dear friends to come and live with us. They had their choice of one of the family bedrooms, but they preferred the basement. Meaning I needed to find a new location for my classroom. 
My husband is the senior Pastor of our little church so we also have a rather constant flow of people in our home, so I knew it needed to be in a location where I could close the door. The only option I had was, turning my youngest daughter's room into our classroom. I moved her into her oldest sister's room and set up her PINK bedroom as our classroom temporarily while we had house guests.  I have since changed my mind on the temporary plan and went to permanent. My girls have become very accustomed to sharing a room and sad at the thought of being separated. Also I really want a year round weather friendly room, so I am happy to stay. What I was not happy about was the pink! I love pink, I better love it with four girls, but for a classroom it was just a little much for my senses. 
I also decided that due to the large amounts of time I spend in my classroom and the fact that it is much smaller than my previous basement classroom, I really wanted it to be pleasing to my eye. I wanted it to have a mixed feel of classroom, but office, maybe even craft room for me. That was going to mean getting rid of the pink for sure, among other decorating "things". To have a desire is one thing but to have the reality of what is that going to cost me is... well can be what stops desire from happening. Because I have an amazing God who cares about the desires of my heart, I was able to bring the desire to reality. Though I am not finished yet, I am just too excited to wait any longer to share with you the transformation. The paint I used ( and no one else since I painted all on my own) was on the refused paint stand  at Lowe's reduced to only $5.00! The valance I bought was on clearance for only $6.24! The chalk board (that is not hung YET) was only $10.00 at a garage sale, all my official school furniture I purchased through the use of Craigslist last year. The temporary desk/ table and chair for me, is on loan from a friend, until she needs it back or I find something budget friendly or free. The chair shelf I am using to display shells was purchased at a garage sale for only $1.00. The picture frame I turned into flannel board (I used black burlap) also from a garage sale for a buck! The curtain rod I found at Ross for $4.00. A grand total (not including the school furniture I purchased last year) is... are you ready... $27.24! For so little, I was able so far, to transform this room into a place I want to spend time in! All things are possible with God. 
Don't give up on your desires for your home! Think outside of your "box" and see what you can come up with, to create a space you like being in.
Taken at a point when my oldest daughter had to share this room with the baby due to house guests in her room. 

More things will be added to the walls
A little bit of home... shells from California beaches!
Our former basement classroom. First day of school, the chalk board was since hung. Started this year with the chalk board on the ground also. Funny! 
Unfinished basement means unfinished ceilings... I am glad to be in our new classroom! I do miss the space though! It was even bigger than what is shown in these two photos.  Warm winter days to come in the new classroom!

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Sew, So Simple Valance

Here is my kitchen widow. The view out that window is amazing! I can see Cheyenne Mountain, deer hanging out on my back hill, the occasional crossing or lingering of Big Horn Sheep, birds, bunnies, my kids as they play in the yard and so on. But the window itself, well... is anything but beautiful or amazing!
I decided to do a quick fix to help beautify that window to my God answered prayer of a view!
With fabric from some of the pillows I made for my family room couch, upholstery tacks and a glue gun, this is what I came up with. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated and nothing I am committed to because I spent a fortune on it. I didn't! The fabric was at the end of the bolster so I got a deal! This is so basic that I could easily change it at any time or any whim!
 Amazing how a little piece of fabric can make such a big difference! Upholstery tacks are a new love of mine! I purchased mine at Lowe's for a whopping $1.50!

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Brass to Black

I have had this ugly brass floor lamp ever since my husband and I were newlyweds. I have always hated it, but it was all we could afford back then. See the girl my husband married had only been to Target like twice and well to put it simply was a snob when it came to things. I can still remember the day we set out to shop for lamps... how depressing! They were so expensive! That explains how this brass lamp came home with us... it was not expensive.
In our move to Colorado from California the shade was damaged. I decide I could try to love the lamp by making a new shade for it. Loved the shade, but still hated the lamp. I think I was just stuck with out knowing it. Stuck in the mind set of I hate it, I wish I could change it but what if I ruined it in the process? Lamps after all are so expensive! Then it dawned on me like a bright idea (sorry I could not help myself) I can take the chance to change it with the wonderful invention of the spray paint can! After all I could just hit the thrift store or a yard sale to find a new lamp if I did ruin it! The possibility to not hate this lamp drove me! I was all lite up inside (I know, I know enough already) with excitement to attack that horrid brass with black!
I did and I am so glad I for the change. Though the lamp shade has since found a home on another lamp, I look forward to making a new shade for my "new" black floor lamp!
A little black dress!

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Glorious Garage Sales

I am new to garage sailing. My first experience of waking up early with a planned route was over Labor Day weekend. How it all began, was on that Friday I stumbled upon a garage sale in my neighborhood and my girls begged me if we could go. Not to let them down, since they insisted, I put the car in park. I had already given myself a talk about the guidelines I was to stay within. I was only there with a specific purpose, to find the items on my wish list. I would not have guilt if I had to walk away with out buying anything. Say it again... no guilt buying! Junk is junk, but treasures could be hidden and ready to be discovered.
That garage sale was a great thrill for me! I did not walk away with much in quantity but a great deal in value as well as a hunger for more deals! I had for the past few days been hitting the thrift stores and goodwill in search of lamps. The best I found was $9.00 but still I just felt like I could do better! So I walked away each time empty handed. At this Friday garage sale I walked away with two lamps (in need of shades) for $2.00! Now I wanted more great finds for so little! When I got back home is when I decided I just needed to jump in with both feet, devise a plan of action and spend my Saturday morning garage sailing. That is exactly what I did... thank you Craigslist.
Tagging along with me for my first Saturday garage sale adventure, was my friend Lauren ( and my six year old daughter. The first countless number of houses we came up empty. Not to be discouraged, yet, so on we went, following every sign that was not on my list. Still nada, zip, zero, nothing! Now time to be discouraged... but wait there is one on my list that is right by my house. Surly one more is fine. SCORE! I found a great, framed chalk board... oh but she was asking more than I wanted to pay. Dilemma, do I get up the courage to haggle or just walk away leaving the treasure for someone else more brave than I? No I could not walk away! I mustered up the courage and to my gleeful surprise she said yes to my offer! I wanted to say, "seriously?" Thankfully I restrained and only let the shock  show on my face I am sure. Who me a virgin garage saler'? No not a chance... that obvious huh? On our way from there we followed yet one more sign where they were having a whole slew of garage sales! First house two more lamps with shades! On to the other houses. The next house is where I came up empty, not in treasure but in dollar! Yes you guessed it I spent every last garage sale dollar I had! Oh the magnificent treasures! Every single thing on my wish list (really prayer list) was there waiting to find comfort in my loving arms as I proudly drove them to their new home! The day was a great success after all! It only took a few hours, a thousand (exaggeration mine) houses having garage sales and a determined undefeated attitude. But lo and behold victory was mine! I even met some really fabulous people in the process! Hi my name is Carrie and I am a garage sale addict!

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