Main Dish Beefy Spanish Rice

I grew up in a small agricultural community surrounded by lots of farms, wineries and some excellent cooks.  It was a unique mix of people pulled together by food, a little art, a love of books, and a whole lot of fresh foods to choose from. 
 
My Grandmother Edith was such an amazing woman, and it was at her side I learned my way around a kitchen.  I am forever grateful for the years and time we had together, and all of the fabric shopping we did, we were dangerous!  But some of our best talks and special moments were around our old kitchen table.  You may have found us shelling beans or freeze drying apricots, and there was always something to talk about.  And when there were those quiet moments together, we didn’t notice.  I think we were both just happy to be with our best friend.
 
Well, now that I have gone and gotten all sentimental on you, I tell you this because this last week was five years since Grandma went to be with the Lord.  If there are fabric stores, and apricot orchards in Heaven, surely she has one of each.
 
Let’s make some food.  I made this for dinner this week and I wanted to share it with you.  You can experiment quite a bit with the things you add to and take from this recipe, but if you make it just like this, I promise you will like it 😉
 


Main Dish Beefy Spanish Rice

  • 2 pounds of extra lean ground beef
  • One green bell pepper
  • One onion
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 cube of chicken bullion
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 4 t. chili powder
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 1/2 cups of your favorite salsa
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro packed and stems removed (don’t add until the end)

Brown ground beef and set aside.  In a medium stock pot, lightly brown rice, chopped onion, and chopped green pepper in vegetable oil.



Add the chicken bullion, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, salsa and water (no cilantro yet-we add that at the end.) Stir, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. 

 
 


Once the rice has absorbed the liquid, remove from heat, add ground beef, cilantro and stir in.  Cilantro seems to cook very fast, so the heat from the cooked rice does the trick, without making it mushy or the color of canned peas.  Sorry, I just do not like that color in my food!

 
 


I like to top with guacamole, sour cream and some shredded cheese.  To add a bit more fiber you can throw in a can or two of rinsed, drained black beans.  This reheats very well in the microwave and is one of my favorite “leftover lunches” or dinner’s the second day too 🙂 Since this recipe can be easily doubled, I sometimes like to make a huge batch and freeze it in flattened gallon-size freezer bags. 

 
Thank you so much for reading, your comments mean so much to me 🙂 Hugs & blessings to you and your family.  Here’s to shelling beans and buying fabric with those you cherish,
 
xoxo, Tanya

Make Your Own Jewelry Gifts

 
November 1st (tomorrow) marks the day that I really begin to feel the pressure to “get stuff done” each year.  So this year, I am trying a new tactic.  I believe it is the opposite of procrastinating, it feels a bit uncomfortable, but hopefully it will become second-nature.  I have heard that it takes either two weeks or twenty one days to create a new habit.  So, I should be a former procrastinator, and totally on track for Christmas by Thanksgiving.  I will let you know if the theory works.
 
In the meantime, Santa’s Workshop is beginning to create and make gifts and goodies, as Christmas is less than eight weeks away, yikes!  Not to worry, I am going to share a tutorial for everything that is made here at twelveOeight.  And maybe, just maybe, we will both be ahead of schedule and eating bon-bon’s for all of December.  It could happen.

 
I love jewelry, and I love to make jewelry too.  Not only are most pieces quick to make, but the supplies and finished gifts take up very little space to store.  And, they are lightweight to ship too, always a plus!
 
I am sharing a few different styles of earrings that I made this week, and the components used to make them.  By having the basics in the picture above on hand, a pair of needle-nosed pliers, and some fun beads, you can easily make a few gifts early, and maybe some bling for you too.

 
Earrings are probably the easiest jewelry making project to make.  By choosing a smaller bead for the base of the earring, this stops the larger beads from sliding off.  Next I like to experiment with colors, shapes and styles to get the right look for each earring.

 
Once I have decided on the final design, the earring can be in one solid section, or two like in the picture above, to create a dangle effect.
 
I trim the earring wire to about 1/4 of an inch above the top bead, use my needle-nosed pliers to create a loop in the wire, and connect my earring hook.  Most earrings do not need a jump ring unless it helps the top bead turn forward, like in the earring below. 
 
Beads can be found not only at bead shops and online, but Walmart and Jo Ann’s have a pretty good selection of beads and jewelry components as well.  Plus, these supplies are sometimes up to 40% off at some craft and fabric stores this time of year, if you watch the ads.  And, if you are a Jo Ann’s shopper, they have an awesome app for your phone that can yield wonderful coupons, I saved $30 on my last trip after downloading this app while I was in line! 
 
 
What are you beginning to work on, are you making/buying your gifts this year or a combo of both? If you have something that you would like to see me share, I would love to hear from you!  Hope this finds you doing well, and for our friends dealing with Sandy, hugs & prayers coming your way 🙂
 
xoxo, Tanya

 

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Tuesday
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,Sugar Bee Crafts, A Diamond In The Stuff, Home Stories A to Z, Reasons To Skip Housework, Domestically Speaking, How To Nest For Less, Organize & DecorateEverything, Ladybug Blessings, Cherished Bliss, The DIY Dreamer,The Sasse Life, The Winthrop Chronicles (button below), Cozy Little House, Homework (button below), Organizing Home Life, Today’s Creative Blog, House On The Way, The Inspired Room

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Thursday
Delightful Order,The Shabby Creek Cottage Somewhat Simple
Embracing Change, House Of Hepworths, 52 Mantels, Thrifty Decorating, Not Just A Housewife, Beyond The Picket Fence, AKA Design, Crafty Scrappy Happy,Christina’s Adventures, The 36th Avenue,Johnny In A Dress
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You May Be A Thrifter If…

 
Do you know which days are half-price days at your local thrift stores?
Do you fall asleep Pinning more than one night a week?
Have you ever been extremely ill (on your way to or from the store for medicine) and stopped at a yard sale?
If you missed a weekend of thrifting do you feel slightly on edge and worried that you are missing the deal of the century?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone.  There are a lot of us.  We are DIY’ers, thrifters, crafters, dumpster-divers, upcyclers, roadside rescuers, and professionals at seeing what could be. 
 
 
I love, love, LOVE to create something pretty out of something not so great.  In the first grade I was banished to the back of the classroom for the majority of the year for talking too much and wondering where the heck the awesome toys from Kindergarten went.  I spent recess convincing my classmates that the rocks and pieces of pretty colored glass I found were treasures.  The next 15 years were spent creating strange outfits, sporting Flock Of Seagulls hair, and painting all of my pink childhood furniture black because it was chic.

 
Do you remember when you started on this journey of making something beautiful out of a piece of discarded decor, or dilapidated furniture?
For most of us it was out of necessity as poor college students or newlyweds.  But somewhere along the line, a love for helping a swan emerge from ugly duckling status grew and he were are.
 
 
This dresser has held all of the sweet baby clothes for my little girl for the past two years, and is now ready for hold big girl items like tights and tutu’s.  I couldn’t help myself, I had to do a little tablescaping before bringing it upstairs and filling it full of her favorite things.
 
Do you have a piece of furniture you are working on right now? Maybe you are on the hunt for your next rescue, and instead of bringing home lost kittens, you are on the hunt for tables and pallets.
 
I appreciate you so much, thank you for coming along on these thrifty adventures with me.  It’s so much more fun together.  Plus, if we all end up in a support group for hoarding then we have each other right?
 
Hugs & Blessings
xoxo, Tanya

Weekly Link Parties & Buttons where you can find me posting projects:
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Sunday
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Monday
Making The World Cuter Monday , Be Colorful, DIY Home Sweet Home,Covered in Grace, Between Naps On The Porch, Craft O Maniac, The Southern Institute, Keeping It Simple, Skip To My Lou,
Brassy Apple, Delectable Home, C.R.A.F.T, Get Outta My Head Please, Krafty Kat (button below)
http://makingtheworldcuter.com/2012/07/cuter-monday/, The Dedicated House, Alderberry Hill (button below), Kampen Lane Designs (button below), My Favorite Finds, http://makingtheworldcuter.com/2012/08/making-the-world-cuter-2/, Just Dawnelle, Mad In Crafts

Tuesday
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,Sugar Bee Crafts, A Diamond In The Stuff, Home Stories A to Z, Reasons To Skip Housework, Domestically Speaking, How To Nest For Less, Organize & DecorateEverything, Ladybug Blessings, Cherished Bliss, The DIY Dreamer,The Sasse Life, The Winthrop Chronicles (button below), Cozy Little House, Homework (button below), Organizing Home Life, Today’s Creative Blog, House On The Way, The Inspired Room

Wednesday
Savvy Southern Style, Someday Crafts, Ginger Snap Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, The Trendy Treehouse, Uncommon Designs, Southern Lovely, Lil’ Luna (button below)
Family Home and Life, Practically Functional, Vintage Gwen, Rae Gun Ramblings, The CSI Project, I Gotta Create, Tales Of A Trophy Wife, Pincushion Creations

Thursday
Delightful Order,The Shabby Creek Cottage Somewhat Simple
Embracing Change, House Of Hepworths, 52 Mantels, Thrifty Decorating, Not Just A Housewife, Beyond The Picket Fence, AKA Design, Crafty Scrappy Happy,Christina’s Adventures, The 36th Avenue,Johnny In A Dress
, Hubby Made Me, Lil Pink Pocket, Two Yellow Birds Decor, One Artsy Mama

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How To Make Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

 
Pumpkins, apples, sweaters, boots, baking, candles, comfort food, family, friends….FALL! I have waited long enough to whip up a big batch of my favorite Pumpkin Coffee Creamer.  My boys even love this stuff.  We had a lot of fun making it together today while the September winds blew a few leaves around our yard, and we donned coats more than once today to step outside. 
 
I have tried a few of these recipes over the years, this is my fave version and I like it better than the swanky coffee house lattes.  Plus it’s cheaper, which is a ginormo win-win!
 
Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
 
Ingredients:
 
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk or use this recipe which I love to make your own for pennies
3 cups of low fat or skim milk
1/2 of a 15 oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling-just pumpkin)
1 T. vanilla extract
2 rounded teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 rounded teaspoon of cinnamon
 
Blend all ingredients well, use an immersion blender if you have one, and keep refrigerated.  Shake well before using, and get ready to have your socks knocked off, this will send your fall decorating, baking and crafting into high-gear.
 
When I am feeling especially decadent, which is about once or twice a day, I like to add a bit of whipped cream and a little ground nutmeg…you can thank me later.  For now just make some, get on Pinterest and have fun saving fall decorating ideas.  You can clean the kitchen later.
 
Enjoy 🙂
 
xoxo, Tanya

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Monday
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http://makingtheworldcuter.com/2012/07/cuter-monday/, The Dedicated House, Alderberry Hill (button below), Kampen Lane Designs (button below), http://makingtheworldcuter.com/2012/08/making-the-world-cuter-2/

Tuesday
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,Sugar Bee Crafts, A Diamond In The Stuff, Home Stories A to Z, Reasons To Skip Housework, Domestically Speaking, How To Nest For Less, Organize & DecorateEverything, Ladybug Blessings, Cherished Bliss, The DIY Dreamer,The Sasse Life, The Winthrop Chronicles (button below), Cozy Little House, Homework (button below), Organizing Home Life, Today’s Creative Blog

Wednesday
Savvy Southern Style, Someday Crafts, Ginger Snap Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, The Trendy Treehouse, Uncommon Designs, Southern Lovely, Lil’ Luna (button below)
Family Home and Life, Practically Functional, Vintage Gwen, Rae Gun Ramblings, The CSI Project, I Gotta Create, Tales Of A Trophy Wife, Pincushion Creations

Thursday
Delightful Order,The Shabby Creek Cottage Somewhat Simple
Embracing Change, House Of Hepworths, 52 Mantels, Thrifty Decorating, Not Just A Housewife, Beyond The Picket Fence, AKA Design, Crafty Scrappy Happy,Christina’s Adventures, The 36th Avenue,Johnny In A Dress
, Hubby Made Me, Lil Pink Pocket, Two Yellow Birds Decor

Totally Transformed Tuesday

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DIY Card Table Makeover

With Holiday entertaining around the corner, and football season upon us, I was reminded yet again that it would soon be time to use my eyesore of a card table.  Being a lover of spray paint, hot glue and all things frugal and crafty, I knew I could bring her back to her glory days. I just needed to decide the look I was going for.  It could not be a boring little nip n’ tuck, it needed to be something fantastic, with a huge “wow” factor.  A go-big-or-go-home-card-table-makeover.

While picking up summer dishes and entertaining supplies earlier this year I spotted a cute flannel-backed vinyl table cloth while shopping.  We ended up not needing it outside this summer on our patio table, and I loved the color and design so I hung onto it in my craft room waiting for inspiration to strike.  And strike it did.  Enter the paint, Rustoleum’s Hammered Finish Spray Paint in this rich, warm brown.  This little makeover was picking up speed.

Supplies:
  1. Card table, the more disgusting the better.  Mine had served as my painting table for far too many years while not being used for entertaining.
  2. Spray paint in your color of choice.
  3. Vinyl table cloth or fabric to recover your table top.
  4. Hot glue, scissors, tools to disassemble and reassemble your table.
  5. This is optional, Diet Coke and a large Hershey bar.  You can decorate and craft without them but I cannot guarantee fabulous results, create at your own risk.


Directions:

I removed the table top from the base of the table and applied two coats of this hammered finish spray paint.  In the before picture below you can see that the table was already brown, but it was boring.  Not sparkly, I like sparkly.  So, as the base of the table dried, I moved on to recovering the top.  I smoothed out the table cloth on my kitchen island, fired up my glue gun, and placing the table top face down, trimmed around the edges of the table cloth.  Gently pulling the vinyl around the edges, I folded it under and glued it down so it would be smooth with no pulling or sagging once the table was back together.  You could also purchase vinyl at the fabric store, or use fabric (which would not be waterproof) so I opted for the table cloth, plus it is pretty, and that usually is the deal maker or breaker for me. 

When the table base was completely dry, I re-attached it to the table top and I was now ready for some awesome fall entertaining, dinner parties, and football gatherings.  Being banished to the card table no longer needs to look dull when you have given yours a proper lift. 
I hope this has inspired you to see what you may already have on hand in a new light.  In less than one hour I think this table definitely went from sad to fabulous.  The best part, I will be using this as my dining room table while I am refinishing my main dining room table in the garage sometime soon.  Dual purpose, love it!
Happy creating, and many blessings to you and your family from our crafty, crazy home 🙂
xoxo, Tanya
I like to party at:
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Sunday
Sisters Of The Wild West, Just Us Four, Nifty Thrifty Things
Cherished Treasures, Polkadot Pretties, Homemaker On A Dime (button below), Under The Table And Dreaming (button below)

Monday
Making The World Cuter Monday , Be Colorful, DIY Home Sweet Home,Covered in Grace, Between Naps On The Porch, Craft O Maniac, The Southern Institute, Keeping It Simple, Skip To My Lou,
Brassy Apple, Delectable Home, C.R.A.F.T, Get Outta My Head Please, Krafty Kat (button below)
http://makingtheworldcuter.com/2012/07/cuter-monday/, The Dedicated House, Alderberry Hill (button below), Kampen Lane Designs (button below), http://makingtheworldcuter.com/2012/08/making-the-world-cuter-2/

Tuesday
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,Sugar Bee Crafts, A Diamond In The Stuff, Home Stories A to Z, Reasons To Skip Housework, Domestically Speaking, How To Nest For Less, Organize & DecorateEverything, Ladybug Blessings, Cherished Bliss, The DIY Dreamer,The Sasse Life, The Winthrop Chronicles (button below), Cozy Little House, Homework (button below), Organizing Home Life

Wednesday
Savvy Southern Style, Someday Crafts, Ginger Snap Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, The Trendy Treehouse, Uncommon Designs, Southern Lovely, Lil’ Luna (button below)
Family Home and Life, Practically Functional, Vintage Gwen, Rae Gun Ramblings, The CSI Project, I Gotta Create, Tales Of A Trophy Wife

Thursday
Delightful Order,The Shabby Creek Cottage Somewhat Simple
Embracing Change, House Of Hepworths, 52 Mantels, Thrifty Decorating, Not Just A Housewife, Beyond The Picket Fence, AKA Design, Crafty Scrappy Happy,Christina’s Adventures, The 36th Avenue,Johnny In A Dress
, Hubby Made Me, Lil Pink Pocket

Totally Transformed Tuesday
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mop it up mondays


See Vanessa Craft homework
OrganizingHomelifeUndertheTableandDreaming



Italian Weeknight Casserole…Great For Back To School!

 This time of year I love to stock my freezer full of easy to prepare meals for busy nights and adjusting to busier days again.  This casserole is Gluten Free as well, but if you are not gluten-sensitive feel free to substitute the rice noodles for wheat.
This casserole is not only budget-friendly but fast to put together too.  I like to buy ground beef in large quantities so I am able to cook and freeze a few extra pounds to have on hand.  Since we are currently a household of 5, I usually use two pounds for most recipes as I typically double them as we love leftovers.  Let’s get to cooking…


Italian- Weeknight Casserole
serves 8-10

Ingredients:

2 lbs of super lean ground beef
1 finely chopped onion
4 cups of  white rice noodles
2 cups of fat free cottage cheese
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 T. dried parsley
1 t. salt and pepper
28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
6 ounce can of tomato paste
2 t. minced garlic
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
2 cups of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Cook onion with beef, adding tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, Italian seasoning, allowing mixture to simmer on low while working on the remainder of the recipe.  While the meat mixture simmers, cook pasta until al dente, drain rinse and set aside.  In a small mixing bowl combine the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, beaten egg, dried parsley, salt and pepper.  Grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and pour half of the meat mixture into the bottom.  Next put a layer of half of the cooked pasta on top of that, then the entire cottage cheese mixture.  Repeat a layer of pasta, followed by the remainder of the meat mixture and topping with shredded mozzarella.  Bake until bubbly, and remove from oven when top is golden in areas.  About 30-40 minutes.

I like to combine this with a huge spinach salad or steamed broccoli for a fast, hearty meal.  It also freezes well.  I like to use it withing 30-45 days for best flavor if frozen.

I hope this can make your weeknight or weekend dinners a little easier to plan and prepare.  Happy cooking from my Tratoria to yours 🙂

xoxo, Tanya

Easy Weeknight Baked Macaroni And Cheese

I may be a Yankee born and bred, but I think there is a Southern cook in there trying to get out to serve up some homemade macaroni and cheese as often as possible.  As usual, I put together something even those of us with a gluten intolerance can enjoy, wear your eatin’ pants folks, this is good!

 Ingredients:

  • 3 cups uncooked gluten free elbow macaroni (I like to use white rice elbows)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of white rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 pound processed cheese food, or 8 slices of American cheese (check label to make sure there is no gluten)
Pre-heat over to 375*
Cook elbow pasta according to package directions, drain and pour into a greased baking dish (I use a ceramic 13″x 9″ dish).  In a large non-stick saucepan, melt butter, and quickly stir in flour to make a roux, adding salt and pepper and stirring until thickened.  Slowly add milk and bring to a slow boil over medium heat, lowering heat a bit when it bubbles, stir until thickened.  Add cheeses, stir until melted and pour over cooked elbows in greased baking dish.  Stir well and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until golden on top. 

Recipe makes 6 good sized servings, or 8 smaller side servings. I double this recipe so we have leftovers for a couple days, and to tell you the truth, I think it tastes even better the next day.

Happy cooking, and don’t forget those eatin’ pants!
xoxo, Tanya 

How to Save Money On Decorative Pillows

Pillows are one of my favorite ways to quickly change the look of a room when you are trying to decorate on a budget  This is probably the #1 thing I use my sewing machine for,  making or recovering pillows.  Here is a little bit of inspiration, as well as some of my money-saving ideas on how to decorate with pillows and save a bundle.

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While I still have been able to save quite a bit of money by making many of my own pillows, I was excited to find quite a few nice quality pillows at local thrift stores lately.  Some I loved, and will use for a while before recovering, but quite a few I purchased just to use the form inside.  If this pillow-form is in good shape, a good washing can make it an excellent (and very affordable) base for your next pillow.

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If have been following me for a while, you may have read my post about my chevron pillows and what I used for pillow-forms. I will let you in on a little secret if you have not read about them yet. I used chair-pads that I found at my neighbor’s yard sale. I washed them well, folded them in half, and used them to fill my “new” chevron pillows.

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Another thrifty idea when making your own pillows, is to look for your fabric in unusual places.  I recently found a beautiful table-runner (very similar to the pillow below, I know right?!) for $2 and it will be easy to turn into two bolster pillows for my sectional.
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When I do purchase decorator fabrics to make or recover pillows,  I have found that most of them are dry clean only.  If the fabric is neutral ( or will cover dirt and stains pretty well) they usually clean up very well with a damp cloth.  Every so often I like to use an at-home dry cleaning system in my dryer as well to refresh all of the pillows.  Happy decorating, and have fun seeing how much you can save by thinking a little outside the box!
xoxo, Tanya

Thank you so much for reading, and as always, may your heart and home be full of everything you love! xo, Tanya         linking up to: http://www.savvysouthernstyle.net/ And these awesome parties: http://www.twelveoeightblog.com/awesome-link-parties