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

Ingredients:
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

This Saves So Much Time – Why Don’t I Do It Every Week?

When I go food shopping, I say to myself, go grocery shopping, come home, wash the produce, and cut it up. I also plan on storing it all pretty in the fridge. Why is it I only do this about 1/3 of the time, maybe?

It’s not hard, and it doesn’t take that long. Wash, trim, and pop into containers to use in salads, packed lunches, and dinner recipes. Nope, I still don’t do this as often as I would like, even if it is easy. Probably because my back hurts after bringing in all the groceries and finding a place to put them LOL. I think… forget this, I’m sick of food at the moment. Well, until I remember the candy bar I had the checker hand me at the cash register, so I could stash it in my purse. Hey, it’s my bonus for doing the shopping.

I’m going to try to do the veggie prep more often because it really does save a lot of time, and it makes meal prep much easier. We will see what actually happens.

Do you wash and chop veggies right after grocery shopping?

A real refrigerator for two people not set up for a photo shoot.

Great For Pest Control

I was sitting on the patio this morning sipping my coffee when I saw this beautiful dragonfly grab and eat an insect midair. Wish I was faster with my phone camera, it would have made a great picture.

One less bug in my backyard. I like that kind of natural pest control.

How To Make A Clay Pot Fountain

A few weekends ago my husband and I made this super easy clay pot fountain. We love water features, and  love the sound of running water in our compact backyard. We also live near a busy street and the sound of water helps to soften the noise. (Watch fountain running; video at the end of this post)

It’s always a nice thing when you can make something out of unused materials that are sitting in your garage

For this project we used old Italian clay pots that we had sitting around in the garage,  just waiting to be put to good use.

It was 5 or 6 years ago that we made our first fountain, and it’s still running.  I first decided I wanted to try and make one after reading an article in a Martha Stewart Magazine http://www.marthastewart.com/269918/pyramidal-pots-water-fountain

I thought the fountain was beautiful, and I had to try and make one. I also, just happened to have, lots of Italian clay pots sitting around that needed a new purpose.

My way of making the fountain is slightly different from Martha’s. The first time I tried to make the clay pot fountain, I followed the directions in the magazine exactly, and used foam sealant per instructions. Unfortunately, I did not have good luck with it. The sealant took way to long to dry, was messy,  and it didn’t seal the hole. I may have done something wrong, I’m not sure.  I didn’t let myself get discouraged by this, I still wanted to make the beautiful fountain I saw in the MS magazine. So, off to the hardware store I went to find a new way to seal the holes in the pots. I was determined, and I wanted to complete my DIY fountain project in one day.

At the hardware store my husband and I found a solution to seal the holes. The solution was Waterproofing Tape. No standing around twiddling our thumbs waiting for foam sealant to dry.

Here is my way of  making a Pyramidal Pots Fountain

Supplies Needed

• You will need 3-4  sturdy clay pots for the pyramid.
We used pots sized from bottom up.
20′, 16″, 12″, & 8″. They need to have a hole in the bottom. And the hole has to be large enough to insert the tubing. I prefer Italian Clay Pots, because they are very sturdy. Note: We live in Southern California so we don’t have to worry about freezing temps.

• 2-4 smaller pots 8-10″ in diameter- To use inside larger pots.
• 4 bricks
• Fountain pump
• 1- roll Waterproofing Repair Tape
• Small Rocks
• Level and Scissors


Let’s Start Building The Fountain

> The first thing you want to do is gather all your supplies so they are handy.

> Pick a spot for your fountain and make sure it’s level. Remember, you will need to have an electrical outlet close, so you can plug in the pump.


> Start with the largest pot, the one that is going to go on the bottom. Make sure   it is clean and dry. This will help you make a good seal with the waterproofing tape.

> Cut a piece of waterproofing tape, peel off backing, and cover the hole in the pot.

> Cut several pieces of tape and crisscross to make a good seal.

> Move the base pot to the location you have chosen. You will build the fountain in place. It’s not advised to move the fountain after it is built.

> Use two bricks on the bottom of the big pot. Cut a piece of pump tubing. Important: make sure tubing is long enough to reach the top of your fountain when it’s finished   (approximately 4 feet). You can cut any excess later, but it won’t be good if the tubing is too short to reach the top.

> Place pump with tubing on top of bricks. Make sure the electrical cord is toward the back of the fountain so it won’t show when you are finished.

> Feed the tubing through a small pot and sit the pot over pump on top of bricks.

> Feed tubing through the next base pot, mine was 16″
> Use some waterproof tape to make a seal around tubing
> Place 2 more bricks and another small pot

> Continue building your fountain in this manner until you get to the top pot. See image below

> Check to make sure the pots are level. Adjust as necessary. Note: If you need to move the fountain use caution to not break the seals or pull out the tubing

> Fill the Pots with water and turn on the pump. Use caution or you might get wet.

> When you see everything is running OK carefully add rocks to the top 2 or 3 pots. Use the rocks to direct the flow of water.

That’s it! You are now done with your Clay Pots Pyramid fountain. It took my husband and I about one-hour to make our fountain.  I hope you make a fountain of your own. I would love to see pictures.

Sit Back, Take a Deep Breath, and Relax for the next 30-sec. as you watch and listen to the running water. WordPress took away the option of adding videos on a free site so you can no longer view it here. Click on the link below to see it on Youtube if you would like to see it running.

View video on Youtube

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have a question or don’t understand the directions, just leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them.

Cheers,

 

 

 

Here is a picture of the pump we use in our fountain. I’ve been asked what kind of pump we used and I didn’t really have an answer until I took the fountain apart for repair. The pump has been going strong for many years without any problems. I hope this helps.

IMG_5826

Spa H2O – Watermelon • Plum • Blueberry • lime • Mint

SpaWater-watermelon_lime_white-plum_blueberry_mint

I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for Spa Water on Pintrest lately. The first time I had Spa Water was 10-12 years ago at a spa. I find the lightly flavored water to be so refreshing. This is a short and sweet post so I will get right to the recipe.

Spa Water

5 chunks of seedless watermelon
1 white plum sliced
handful of blueberries
Several mint leaves
1 Sliced lime
Ice
1-2 quarts Filtered Water (or good tap water)

Add some ice to the pitcher. Then, add your fruit, mint, and water. Stir with a wooden spoon. Put in the refrigerator for an hour to let the flavors mingle.

Here is a picture of Spa Water I had at work

Here is a picture of the spa water made by John Bourg (Craft Service Master). He makes this for us everyday on the TV show we’re working on. The film crew was especially thankful for this refreshing drink when we were on location last week. It was blazing hot and everyone who tried the water left saying, wow! this is soooo refreshing. Check out John’s, Studio App Pinterest board to see some of the tasty treats he fixes for us on the set.

 

Cucumber • Lemon • Mint 

Don’t be afraid mix it up and try different combinations.

Have you tried spa water before? If so what is your favorite flavor combo? I would also like to know if you have a flavor combo that you don’t like. Don’t be shy start typing in the comment section 🙂

Cheers,

Tamara

Decorating Your Home with DIY Flower Decor

Guest Post by Patricia Hall

Flower arrangements placed throughout the home create a fresh and welcoming focal

point each time one enters the room. Flowers have the power to lift ones spirits when the eyes are drawn to their beauty. A combination of browsing on line florists, enlisting the assistance of flower delivery and unleashing your creative design talents will assure a perfect decorators finishing touch with minimal effort.

Leave No Room Behind

Every room in the home will benefit from flower decor. The first room that typically comes to mind is the dining room; an attractive vase brimming with blooms to adorn the center of the table seems to be a requisite in every home. When presented with a surprise bouquet from a significant other or a dinner guest, this is often the chosen spot where the arrangement is relegated for display.

In taking the appeal of flower decor beyond the dining table, consider other rooms in the home that could be enlivened with colorful and unique arrangements. The welcoming vibe cast by flowers makes them a perfect addition to a guest room when overnight visitors arrive. For an unexpected decorative design, consider arranging the flowers in a vessel that compliments the guest room decor. For example, in a room that carries a seaside motif, arrange blooms in a large, upturned conch seashell.

For avid gourmet cooks who embrace spending time in their kitchens, a floral arrangement on the counter will inspire creativity as one conjures culinary delights. Arrange the flowers in an unexpected, kitchen-themed, container. Poking around in the recesses of the cabinets will unveil some perfect candidates, such as a honey pot for some daffodils and baby’s breath, a teapot for colorful English garden blooms, a white porcelain pitcher for vivacious pink dahlias or a galvanized jug for hydrangea blossoms.

The bathroom is not to be excluded from the benefits of flower power. This room is, after all, a space where beauty emerges from morning dressing routines, as well as a place to relax and unwind when basking in the jet spa tub. Muted hues in a bathroom are soothing. Consider arrangements of understated warm shades, such as pink, cream and peach, to adorn the vanity. An ideal container would bear a metallic finish that matches that of the fixtures throughout the room, such as the brushed nickel of the light fixture, shower door frame, doorknobs and switch plates.

If a finished laundry room includes a sunny window, an eye pleasing flower arrangement of cheery, sunny-colored blooms will temper the drudgery of laundry duty. Outdoor patios will come alive when galvanized containers or watering cans display sunflowers on the tables and deck steps.

Through the Seasons

When designing arrangements for the home, whether in a classic vase on the bedroom dresser or a grouping on the living room coffee and end tables, embrace the opportunity to celebrate the seasons. Welcome springtime with bright yellow daffodils and colorful tulips. Transition the arrangements with the summer solstice by swapping out those early blooms for lively daisies, bold sunflowers, bright dahlias and pretty peonies. As falls first cooling breezes arrive, showcase summers final hydrangeas along with chrysanthemums in autumnal shades of maroon, gold, orange and purple.

The arrival of winter’s equinox coincides with the winter holiday season. While one’s first thoughts drift toward traditional poinsettias, incorporate different blooms in the holiday red and white combination. For example, an arrangement of roses and carnations in festive crimson and snowy white make a yuletide statement that is a refreshing change from the poinsettias. Likewise, autumn arrangements need not be limited to mums; select gerbera daisies, carnations, roses and lilies in a variety of fall colors. Enhance holiday arrangements by adding decorative picks, pinecones and ornaments to the mix. During the barren gray months of winter, enliven your living space with arrangements of brightly colored roses to chase away the bleak weather blues.

Alive and colorful, flowers inspire a zest for life. Take advantage of the benefits of on line florists and flower delivery to put a smile on the face of your day by decorating with beautiful and creative flower arrangements for every room in the home the whole year through.

About the Author

Patricia Hall works part-time for Serenata Flowers UK an online florist and loves to surround herself with flowers at any given point of time. Even in her free time she loves to involve herself with everything flora and fauna.
‘To me there is nothing more beautiful and global as the language of flowers – it is the easiest to understand all around the world in the same way. That is one reason why I truly admire flowers for what they represent in some ways – unity of all mankind!’

DIY Girlfriend Birthday Gift

Hey Friends,

Today I was making a little birthday gift for one of my girlfriends and I thought it might be helpful to you if I shared it.

I have a few close friends that I celebrate birthdays with (the girlfriend birthday club). We have an unwritten rule no gifts. We go to dinner and everyone pitches in to buy the guest of honor her dinner.

It’s hard for us to come empty handed, in fact none of us ever do. We just keep it super simple. Sometimes it’s a sweet card, re-gifting a good book, homemade dessert , or a little plant. We used to get all elaborate and it got out of control. This was supposed to be a girlfriend get together after work to celebrate life, relax, and catch up on what is happening with each other.

I decided I was going to make a card because I didn’t have time to get to the store.  I used MS word to draw a very  simple design. (You can download the template below). I wanted to give a little something along with the card so… I went to my little stash in the cupboard and found the crystal tea light holder and the plain boring  white tea lights. Then…

Enough with the back story

Lets Get to it…

Step 1

Print card template on white card stock.
note: Make sure your printer is set to borderless printing. It should print all the way to the edges. The file is in pdf format.

Step 2

Cut the card in half horizontally. The template makes 2 cards

Step 3

Fold card in half.

Phew that was hard I know. Your card is done. Write a nice note and you can pop it into the mail.

Of course I couldn’t leave it alone.

I had to add just a touch of sparkle*

So I added 2 rows of rhinestones

I added a touch of sparkly glue to the center of the flowers. I think that is just the right amount of sparkle. Not too much, not too little. I keep telling myself to KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Your card is finished. Now to make the matching tea lights.

Tea Light to match the Card

The candle below was my test candle. The custom tea lights I made before used tissue paper for the design. On this one I used regular printer paper. My test came out great. The paper did not break out in flames. The paper just sunk to the bottom as the candle burned. Note: (Never Leave Your Candles Unattended)

Step 1

Print the card template on plain printer paper.

Cut out flowers to use for the design.

For the complete custom tea light instructions you can read my post here. I made something similar for another friend of mine.

Now to Wrap the Gift

I love using cloth to wrap presents. It’s fun, green, and  can be used again and again.

Kitchen towels work great for wrapping small gifts. Who couldn’t use more towels in the kitchen.  I just bought some pretty flower towels at IKEA and they are sitting in a bag somewhere, but where is the question I asked myself.

Luckily, after a few minutes I found them in the back seat of my car. Go figure, they were under some junk in the trunk haha.

What do you think? Spring Flowers work for me.

Now to wrap up the gift and tie it with a recycled satin ribbon.

That’s it. I’m now ready for the party. I hope my friend enjoys her little gift. I know I enjoyed making it. I also hope this inspires you to make your own gift for a friend.

Friends Are Precious!

Download and Print Card Template

View tea light instructions here

Have a beautiful day!

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.

Thinking About Hope When This Popped Up

Wordless Wednesday

This was taken with iPhone this morning

Have a Hopeful Day!

Easy Easter Candy Nests

If you need a quick hostess gift or want to make some candy for your own Easter celebration this might be it. It’s also easy enough for the kids to help. It took me about 20 minutes from start to finish.

I learned about this recipe from  peacockpottery and decided I had to try them. My mom makes something similar at Christmas so I knew they would taste good.

Ingredients:

1 bag of  chocolate eggs
1 bag of Hershey’s Kisses
1 bag of Square Butter Pretzels

Directions:

Heat the oven to 170 degrees F.

Place the pretzels on a baking sheet and top with a Hershey’s Kiss. No need to use parchment paper.  I tried both ways and found no parchment paper easier. These are ready for the oven. Cook for 5 minutes until chocolate is soft.

When you take them out of the oven gently push a candy egg into the kiss.


These are ready for the refrigerator. Chill for 10 minutes to set the chocolate.


Get your plate ready for the hardened candy nests. I used a paper doily on a green dotted plate.

When the chocolate is hardened add the nests to your pretty plate.


I decided to add the leftover kisses to the plate to fill in the gaps.

I will be taking these to an Easter celebration so I covered them with cling wrap.

It didn’t look quite festive enough for me so I went into my new kitchen towel stash. I found a cute green cotton towel with flowers and ladybugs and wrapped the plate.

The towel was not big enough to cover the whole plate so I had to improvise. I used office clamps to secure the kitchen towel.

Here is the finished plate of Easter Candy Nests that I will be giving as a gift.

Happy Easter!