Category Archives: Family

Recipes and Memories

Mexican Spiced Shredded Beef

Printable recipe at the end of post.

Do you have some favorite recipes that you have been making for years and years?

I love shredded beef tacos and burritos, and  I was  craving some last week,  so I decided to make my favorite recipe for shredded beef.  I’ve been making this shredded beef  several times a year since I was around 20 years old, and newly married. I have the recipe pretty much in my head, but something made me go look for the printed recipe anyway.

I looked high up in the cupboard and found my treasured recipe box. I found the recipe I was looking for grease stain and all. Then, I started flipping through the recipes that I have collected over the years. Looking at all those recipes I’ve collected from dear friends and family brought back so many good memories of my days as a young wife and nurse. Many of the recipes are from my nurse friends at the hospital I used to work at. I’m glad I saved this little box of memories. I smiled when I found a spaghetti recipe from my dear friend Debbie, who passed away much too young. It made me think about how excited we were to make a homemade meal for our husbands. I also found the over achiever list of cookies and baked goods my friend Janell and I made one Christmas. It reminded me of all the flour on the floor, when we dropped the giant bag on the ground. I’ve never purchased 25 pounds of flour again.

I wonder if collecting, and looking at recipes on my computer, will give me the same satisfaction years from now, like this little box did today when I looked at it.  I’m glad I saved it.

My Old Recipe for Shredded Beef

4 1/2 lb. bone-in chuck roast
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
7 oz. can diced green chilies
3 Tbs. Chili Powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cloves garlic minced
salt, pepper, & cayenne to taste

Tortillas, avocado, grated cheese, lettuce, or any of other favorite fixings

Cooking Instructions 

Line a roasting pan with heavy duty foil. Leave enough hanging over the edges to wrap up the meat to seal in juice. Place meat onto the foil. Rub seasonings over the roast. Cover the meat with the tomatoes and diced green chiles.

Wrap and seal the foil to seal in the juices. This also keeps the meat from drying out and makes the pan easier to clean.

Cook in a 300 degree oven for 4-5 hours.

Make sure to take the meat out of the oven after 2 hours to flip the meat and check how it’s doing. It should look something like this.

After 4-5 hours your finished meat should look like the picture  below. It is done when it easily shreds apart.

Carefully lift the meat out of the pan and into a container to shred the meat. You can add as much of the juice as you like.

That’s it you are now ready to make great tasting tacos, burritos, sandwiches, or tostadas!

Good things to know

> Left overs freeze well
> Boneless Chuck Roast works great. I just buy what’s on sale
> Can be made in the crock pot, but I like oven method best
> Great recipe for parties
> It will become a family favorite if you like beef

Print Recipe

Bon Appétit


What Kind of Birthday Party Should You Plan for Your Kid?

Planning a child’s birthday party is nothing like planning a party for adults. It requires much more effort, time, dedication, and love. You have to send formal invitations via email or snail mail. You have to plan activities, prepare food, get party supplies, bake a cake, and even make reservations at a party play center if you’re throwing the party away from your home. But before you do all that, you have to accomplish the difficult task of deciding what kind of party you’re going to throw. To help you decide, here are some of the most popular types of parties for children:

Pizza and Games Party

This is one of the simplest kinds of parties you can throw for your child. It usually involves going to a pizza and games center like Chuck E. Cheese’s or Dave and Buster’s and letting the kids munch on some food and then run around and play games to win tickets that they can redeem for prizes. A pizza and games party is the quintessential kind of party for kids, and you can usually never go wrong with this type of party.

Inflatable Party

You have the option of renting a moon bounce and setting it up in your backyard or throwing the party at an inflatable party center, which is essentially a warehouse full of moon bounces. There’s something about moon bounces that kids absolutely love, and it’s difficult to find a child that doesn’t like this sort of party.

Adventure Party

Adventure parties are trending these days. Adventure party centers are also popping up around the U.S. This kind of party center includes rock walls for the kids to climb, zip lines, rope bridges, and slides. An adventure party is best suited for kids who are a little older (ages 10-13), since activities like rock climbing aren’t always safe for young children.

Children’s Museum Party

Your child is sure to think that a trip to the children’s museum is a fun way to spend his or her birthday. The children’s museum keeps the kids engaged, and it’s educational. Call your local children’s museum and see if they allow groups to rent out rooms for parties. Most children’s museums do allow you to rent out a room to eat party food and cake in between touring the museum.

So, consider trying out one of these fabulous and fun birthday party ideas, and your child is sure to have a birthday blast!

Author’s Bio: Melissa is a mom and guest blogger who writes about the importance of quality time for families, party preparation and planning, and how to plan a Mario birthday party.

Lively Jingle Bells Song With Cute Pictures – Video

Hello Friends,

Yesterday I did a little Holiday Greeting video for Billy Gorilly, and I thought I would share it with you. It’s a fun boogie woogie piano version of Jingle Bells, played by Billy Gorilly.

In the last 2 days we have given permission and licensed the song for commercial use in Brazil, Canada, UK, and Mexico. I’ve also found many personal video’s, and a video game using Billy Gorilly’s song.  I even saw one video where a girl used it behind her cute make-up tutorial and a short Christmas themed  animation. A big thank you to those of you who gave Billy Gorilly credit for the music, we appreciate that very much.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the song, and my little video.

Happy Holidays to All!

Tea Lights and Coziness ~ Make A Sweet Little Gift

Can You Find the Little Angel?

Hello Friends,

Are you trying to think of a little gift for a girlfriend, teacher, or coworker?

I thought I would share a craft + little gift I made for a friend recently.

I made this gift for my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago for her birthday. We have a group of girls that get together to celebrate each birthday throughout the year. We have an unwritten rule that there are no gifts. Cards and homemade things are OK.

This whole project took me about 20 minutes to put together and cost about $5.

I’m going to get right down to the details.

Inside the Gift Bag:

  • A pretty handmade box with a slide off top

  • 5 – Customized Tea Light Candles (you can buy a bag of 100 plain tea lights on sale for under $10)

  • 1 – Tea Light holder  (Dec. is a great time to get these cheap)
  • 1 – Pair of cozy slipper socks

  • Throw in a couple of pieces of dark chocolate and some Calm tea for an extra treat. Thank You @CandyDye for that idea.

I buy cozy socks on sale in December to have on hand for little gifts. Cost $2.50
The crystal tea light holder I got on sale at Michaels Crafts for $2.50
I recycled the cellophane bag that was in my craft cupboard, same with ribbon
I had the paper in my scrap-booking paper stash. The pink tissue was rescued from an old gift bag hiding in the linen closet.

The way I see it,  this sweet gift cost me about 5 bucks. Not bad for a thoughtful, useful gift made with lots of love. Hey a store bought Card cost around 5 bucks. This gift can be used for a long time,  and it’s fun to make and put together.

Making the Custom Tea Lights

Items Needed:

  1. Tea Lights
  2. Colored tissue paper
  3. Paper punch of choice. One that will fit the candle. I had a heart that worked perfectly. You could even cut out a shape by hand.
  4. Heat gun or a hair dryer would probably work fine

Punch your shape out of tissue paper. *note when you punch tissue paper use a piece of regular scrap paper with it. Punch through both the reg. paper and tissue paper. This just makes it easier. Discard the regular paper, keeping only the colored shape. In this case a heart.

Next punch a small hole in the center of your tissue shape. I used a small hole punch, but you could use a paper clip or something.

Place the tissue shape onto the tea light with the wick going through the little hole.

Take your heat gun and melt the wax slightly. This only takes a few seconds, use caution so you don’t burn yourself. You just want a little wax covering the tissue.

That’s it.! You are done customizing one tea light. Now finish the rest just like the first one, or make them all different, use your imagination.

Let’s Make The Pretty Box

You will need two pieces of card stock. Pick your favorite color. If you’re a scrapbooker you probably have tons of paper hanging around. I just went through my stock and picked some I thought looked pretty together.

  • Cut one piece card stock 7 1/2 in. x 3 in. (this will be the bottom)
  • Cut one piece card stock 6 in. x 5 1/4 in. (this will be the top)

Now we want to score the paper. Scoring paper is making a crease in the paper prior to folding. To do this you can use a ruler and a bone folder. Or, you can use a scoring board. Look for one in the scrap book section of your craft store. I have done it both ways.

Instead of writing all the measurement here I thought it would be easier to give you a printable with all the measurements.
***Download Rectangle Box Template

Once you have your paper cut and scored, tape into place using double-stick tape or glue. I prefer tape because it is not as messy, and I don’t have to wait for it to dry.

Decorate the box to your liking. I used paper, cut out a section and popped it up using foam squares. I wanted to keep this box simple. They can be fancy or simple it’s totally up to you.

Now It’s Time To Put Your Gift Together

I chose to put the tea lights, cozy slipper socks, and crystal candle holder in a clear cello bag with a gross grain ribbon.

This is what the final gift looked like

I hope you enjoyed this post. I want to give credit where credit is due. I first learned how to make the boxes years ago at my favorite scrap book store Hearts and Crafts in Covina, Ca. The tea light idea I got from the 6/6/11 issue of 350 Cards & Gifts by

*** Print Rectangle Box Instructions ***

Happy Holidays!


Best Corn Chowder I’ve Ever Made

I was having a craving for corn chowder a while back so I headed to my pantry and started looking to see what I had to make it. This recipe is what I came up with. My husband loved it and so did I. Our DD loved it too. It was  super easy to make and didn’t take very long. Quick and easy is what I like when it comes to cooking daily meals

Ingredients for 6-8 servings:
2-14 3/4oz. cans Del Monte sweet creamed corn
2 cups Organic low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1 medium onion chopped
10 slices bacon cooked and crumbled (I used Trader Joes fully cooked apple smoked bacon).
2 Lbs. Organic klamath pearl potatoes cut into bite-size chunks (skin on) I also got these at TJ’s
Pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Chop and dice the potatoes and onions. In a large stock pot cook bacon. (This only took a minute with the pre-cooked bacon). Remove bacon and set on paper towels. Leave a tsp. of bacon grease in the pot. I did not have to drain any. Add the onions and potatoes. Saute for two minutes. Add the cream corn and vegetable broth. Cook on simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. When the potatoes are tender add the crumbled bacon, 1/2 & 1/2, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Gently simmer for another 10 minutes. Oh boy I almost forgot. I used a potato masher inside the pot to make the soup thick and chunky. I did not want it pureed.

I think this was so tasty because… The potatoes did not get mushy. Leaving the peel on made it easier. Using pre-cooked bacon was a big time saver. The ingredient list was short. It was done in less than 30 minutes, and my husband raved about it.

It is not low-cal, but I did not care it was too good. Add a simple green salad and you are set with a delicious lunch or dinner. Enjoy!

Print Recipe

Easy Bake Pumpkin Cake

This easy recipe will fill the house with the sweet smell of cinnamon and spice. It’s perfect for potlucks, and family gatherings. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Serve with whip cream or vanilla ice cream.

I came up with this recipe, or should say modified, because I did not have a yellow cake mix. I was going to make the well known “Dump Cake” with cherry pie filling, but didn’t have the right ingredients. So, I looked through my pantry and came up with something kind of like it, but in my opinion much better than my original thought. I also thought this would be perfect for this time of year. I love  pumpkin, and spice.

I wish I would’ve thought about taking pictures of this before I was into making it. I also stopped everyone from taking a bite long enough after serving it, so I could snap some pictures with my iPhone. They all laughed at me, but hey, who cares. I thought, yikes I have to make this into a blog post. I know all you other bloggers out there know what I’m talking about.

Print Recipe


  • 1 pkg. – Trader Joes Pumpkin Bread Mix (or your favorite brand)
  • 5 oz. evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 30 oz. Can Pumpkin Pie Mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9x13in glass baking pan with Pam or butter. Mix pumpkin mix, evaporated milk, & eggs in bowl. Pour mixture into baking pan. Sprinkle ½ of bread mix over pumpkin mixture. Run knife through mixture in a zigzag to combine some of the bread mixture into the pumpkin mix. Then, add remaining bread mix to top.

Sprinkle pecans and spices evenly over surface, and then drizzle butter over mixture. Bake for 40min. or until toothpick comes out clean. Keep an eye on your cake; it can burn easily in last few minutes. Let cool for 2 hours, then refrigerate or serve.

This recipe takes 5-10 minutes to prepare. Then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the wonderful smells coming from your kitchen as this cake bakes in the oven.

I hope you enjoy as much as my family did.

Bon Appetit!

Primrose Schools Suggests Wallet-Friendly Ideas to Bust Summertime Boredom

Guest post: by Dan Gilbert

How do you keep your child occupied during those long summer months without breaking the bank? That’s a question many parents find themselves trying to answer this summer. Luckily, Primrose Schools has some creative solutions to keep your kids mind active. Not only are these solutions aimed at keeping money in your pocket, but also to keep your child from facing those awful summer boredom blues.

A summer with no stimulated activity can lead to what Primrose refers to as the “brain drain” effect. Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year. To keep this from happening, Primrose Schools suggests to encourage imaginative play and have a plan in place to keep children engaged during the summer months.

“It’s important to keep children’s minds active during the summer, but it doesn’t take an expensive activity or big vacation to capture their attention,” said Dr. Mary Zurn, Vice President of Education for Primrose. “After all, imagination is free.”

These are some inexpensive ideas to have ready for those summer days when your child cannot seem to find anything else to do:

1.    Beat the Boredom Jar: All you need is a jar, some paper, scissors, glue and markers. Encourage your children to share their own ideas and help you decorate and label a simple jar as the family “Boredom Buster Jar.” Next, write everyone’s ideas down on slips of paper and as a group decide which ones should go in the jar. Anyone in the family can pull any idea out of the jar to fight the summertime boredom blues. This activity should be done in the early days of summer and can last you all through the summer. You may even choose to do a boredom jar after the summer!

2.    Art Treasure Chest: All you’ll need to gather basic art supplies–child safe scissors, glue, markers, tape, and construction paper. Put them in a special box along with empty boxes, scraps of foil and old buttons. Occasionally add a special surprise like chalk, stickers, or stamp pads so there’s always something new for the children to find. Even if you normally have these supplies around the house, it‘s fun for children to know that the Art Treasure Chest is just for them. They’ll probably have some good ideas of other household items that can be recycled to fuel their creative energies. This is another simple activity that can last an entire summer.

3.    Summer Scrapbook: This is something that the whole family can participate in and will last all summer. All you need to do is get a spiral notebook, some markers or crayons, and some glue. Each family member can take turns adding what they this is a special memory. Add pictures, souvenirs and write a short description to go with each. Update as frequently or infrequently as you want! After the summer, everyone can enjoy the memories all over again!

4.    Camping Out: Not all kids may be up for the idea of sleeping outside, so what better way to make them feel safe than sleeping in your back yard! Bring a backpack with a flashlight, some snacks, books and other sorts of activities along with a couple blankets and/or chairs to sit on. Sing, tell stories and have some fun! This is a great way for some family bonding.

5.    Stories Alive: It sounds too simple, but reading is one of the most important ways to keep young minds engaged during the summer. Make it even more exciting by acting out the story! Use costumes and props to make the story come to life.

6.    Family Performances: Break out old clothes or costumes and encourage children to make up characters and create a play to act out. They are the directors, actors, and producers. They can also make musical instruments out of pots/pans, wooden spoons, empty canisters and have a parade; or everyone can play along to your family’s favorite songs. By recording the performances, you will not only be able to watch them back right away for even more entertainment, but you’ll also be capturing a bit of family history everyone will enjoy for years to come.

7.    Fort Building: Children love to build all kinds of structures–from small towns to large towers. Constructing forts or tents is an activity that can keep children focused and problem solving for hours. All the items you needed are found around the house–some chairs, cushions, blankets… and of course adult supervision.

8.    Cookbook Fun: Have you ever shared your favorite cookbook with your children? Take it out and discuss what recipe is your favorite, then ask your child to pick out a recipe he or she would like to try. Cooking can be a fun and easy way to keep math skills fresh.

9.    Listening Game: Lie down in the backyard, in the den or at the park and listen. This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening. What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound?

10.  Scavenger Hunt: This is easy. Just make a list of household items, or items found outside around the house. Split into teams, or do it individually. This can even be a fun way to engage the neighbors. Everyone can participate!


There are a couple important things to remember when introducing your child to any type of activity; know that each child is different. Every child has his or her own personality, likes, dislikes, learning capabilities and skills. Instead of ignoring these differences, use them to modify and adapt each activity to fit the needs of your children. Many times, children say they are bored because the activity they were doing was either too simple or too advanced to keep them occupied for long. Activities should be fun and challenge what they know, but should keep in line with the interests and developmental levels of your children.

“Keeping children engaged with open-ended activities that stretch their imaginations during the summer months helps them develop their independence, creativity, and thinking,” said Dr. Zurn. “We want to help parents keep the “brain drain” at bay while their children play.”

So with these tips in mind, sit down with your family and make a plan for an engaging, imaginative and fun summer without any brain draining!

Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.