Saturday, August 10, 2013

Better than Olive Garden alfredo!

As an alfredo lover I can be pretty picky about my sauce. To me the famous Olive Garden fettuccine alfredo has always been a little bland to me.
My mom shared this recipe with me and we made it when she visited last, it was SO good! Kind of reminded me of the alfredo you can get at a restaurant called Frosos from my hometown of Marysville, WA.

1 pkg Pasta (penne or fettuccine)
1 stick of butter
1 clove of minced garlic
1 pint of heavy cream
1 cup of fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp cream cheese
salt to taste
white pepper to taste

Make pasta according to package directions.
In a sauce pan over medium heat – melt butter and add garlic and cook for two minutes, then add in heavy cream and cream cheese and heat until bubbling, but do not boil.
Remove from heat and let sit for a minute then add in Parmesan Cheese and mix until the cheese melts (removing it from heat prevents the cheese from separating or curdling).
Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the hot sauce into the noodles and serve.

I thought this was so delicious and I hope you do to. :)
Thanks for reading,

Friday, August 9, 2013

Homemade baby wipes

I know there are a million and a half homemade baby wipe recipes/blog posts out there but I feel mine will be the best because of trial and error. lol
I have made several batches of homemade baby wipes and just got frustrated time after time because they would start to grow mildew and I'd end up throwing half the batch away which meant I wasn't saving the money that I'd made these dang things to save with! 
I recently dove back into my homemade baby wipe research after a lengthy break from making them and stumbled upon a tip that so far has made the difference between mildew and no mildew. 

Here is my most recent recipe/directions.

Ingredients & Supplies:
Airtight Container
2 1/4 cups water (This depends on the size paper towel roll you use - you may need slightly more or less.)
1.5 Tbs Baby Wash (your favorite brand/scent)
1 Tbs Baby Oil (generic works fine)
1 Tbs White Vinegar (supposed to inhibit growth of mildew)
1 Roll Viva brand paper towels 

1. Bring water to a boil on stove top and allow to cool to room temperature.  This step is important as it removes the bacteria from the water thereby keeping your wipes from molding (the step that has made the difference this time around so there must be truth to this!). 

2. While the water is boiling, use a NON-serrated SHARP knife to cut the roll of paper towels in half.  Place one of the halved paper towel rolls cut side down in the container. You will use 1/2 of the roll for each batch of wipes. 

3.  Mix water, baby bath, and baby oil, vinegar.  

4.  Pour the liquid mixture over the paper towels and close with the airtight lid.

5. As soon as the liquid is cool enough, you can remove the inner cardboard. 

Notes: I use a tupperware bowl I already had to soak the paper towels in then when I remove the cardboard I put the roll into a left over wipe box I have. I have seen posts where people have bought tupperware in the size to fit the roll and pull them out from there but I already had a box to use so I am not going to waste the money. You can unroll and fold the wipes accordion style but I just unroll a few times and put it back in the box with the unrolled wipes on top so I have several that pull right through. I only have to do that once a day so it's no biggie. Also, i have heard good things about Bounty Select-a-Size brand paper towels so if they are less expensive I'll be trying those next batch. 

Please comment below if you have you make your own and do it differently or if you have any questions. 
Thanks for reading!

Tips and Tricks for surviving the expense of back to school

Hi all!
One of my readers, Kevin, requested this post and I thought it was a great idea!
I'm going to let you all know what things we do to help us survive the expense of 3 school aged children going back to school and hope that you will comment below with what your families do. Lets help each other out!!
To start, we don't wait until the last moment to buy everything at once. Spreading out the purchases over the Summer allows us to not get hit so hard at once and also to take advantage of some sales on last school year's items.
 Our kids don't go back to school for another few weeks but we've already purchased their backpacks from Children's Place online at great prices for 2 and a Jansport for our older off of Amazon.

We shop clearance racks throughout the year to buy the opposite season's items at the lowest prices (we have jeans for our daughter at $5-$10 a piece stocked up for the next 2 years!). Children's place had great prices on their jeans last year and they really held up for our younger son who is HARD on his wardrobe. They usually have promo codes you can find to use when shopping online and you get an extra 5% if you use a Children's Place card.
Shoes for kids can be tricky because you want something that will last but you also don't want to spend a fortune... We try Ross for shoes because you can get brand name shoes for a fraction of the price. Last year our daughter got Converse at Target and she is still using them so they held up pretty well for the $25 we spent.
School supplies can be trickier because you don't have much choice as to what the teachers require your child to have. We shop at Walmart because that's were we find good prices and we don't have many other options in our small town.
One thing I have learned is to not buy supplies using the generic lists stores put out before you hear from your school/teacher. We did this last year because we were anxious to get the items and this resulted in another trip to get the correct items and then another to return all the items we bought that were NOT required (thanks to the store so kindly offering us those generic lists early). I'm sure the store's goal is to get you to buy those things and then just keeping them even though you don't need them. Money in their pockets!
Also, in younger grades you're asked to buy markers, pencils, etc to go into community bins for the whole class to use from so if that's the case we don't go all out on the fanciest, most expensive items.

There are the things we do, please comment below with your family's ways of getting through the back to school season without breaking the bank!
As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Photo Greetings By Casey!

Hey all! I'm hoping EVERYONE will go check out my Facebook page for my new business adventure at this link ---> Photo Greetings By Casey.
These are packs of 5 greeting cards with envelopes that are beautified by my own photos for only $5! You can choose any 5 images you choose or you can choose a theme such as flowers and I will choose 5 for you. Here is an example of what your pack of cards would look like....
Here are a FEW of the options I have to choose from...

So go check me out, contact me if you're interested and THANKS for stopping by. :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homemade hair treatment for hard water damage and dry climate

2 1/2 years ago my family relocated from Washington state to Nevada. I immediately noticed a difference in my skin and hair. I attributed the changes to the lack of moisture here compared to Washington and was told by a few hair stylists that my hair was just used to more moisture so to use moisturizing shampoos, shampoo less and do deep conditioning treatments. I spent a lot of money on special shampoos and treatements but nothing was helping my hair. No matter how much I conditioned or trimmed it, my ends were ALWAYS splitting. This was the opposite of what I was used to...
Recently while I was getting my hair done by my new stylist there was conversation about our water and how hard it is on our hair. We have very hard water where I live in Nevada but it never really occured to me that maybe that was my main hair problem.
After leaving I went home and looked up the affect of hard water on your hair and was SHOCKED at what I learned. I will try to explain this as best I can... Our hair "cuticle" lays like roof shingles, layered one on top of the other, hard water leaves deposits on your hair which prevents your cuticle from laying flat (split ends!!). No wonder my hair was breaking so stinking much. After some more searching I read a couple people had been using white vinegar as a rinse in the shower to remove the deposits left by the hard water. Since I buy white vinegar by the gallon already for my homeade cleaning solutions and had it on hand I gave it a try and have continued rinsing once a week with it and guess what... No split ends!!
I have to say though that I also had just changed a few other things in my hair care routine. I started using Organix brand shampoo and conditioner because it is sulfate free and has argan oil (moroccan oil) which is supposed to be amazing for hair and sulfates are not...

In addition to that I purchased some 100% argan oil off of Amazon and have been using that too. This is the brand I purchased.

So my hair routine now (split end free!) is that I wash with the Organix every other day and once a week I rinse with a mix of vinegar and water after I shampoo and let the vinegar sit for a bit before rinsing it out and conditioning and after every wash I apply some of the 100% argan oil to my hair. I am at over a month since my last hair cut with no split ends!
I hope this helps someone out there who may be dealing with a similar hair crisis!! 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Tonight we had cabbage soup for dinner, it was delicious!
Ours didn't have the beef in it like the above photo because we have been not eating as much meat lately... One of the reviewers on the site I found this recipe said it was exactly like the soup at The Cabbage Patch in Snohomish, WA where I used to eat with my mom so I was excited to try it. Here is the recipe.


1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 (3 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon minced parsley
1 (7 1/2 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
4 -5 1/2 cups water
1/2 to taste salt and pepper

In a large soup kettle, brown beef with onion, garlic and green pepper.
Add tomato paste, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, parsley, kidney beans and salt and pepper to taste.
Stir well.
Dissolve bouillon in 1 cup water and add to soup along with cabbage.
Slowly add desired amount of remaining water.
Bring to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spaghetti Saurus Rex

I know I've mentioned this before but my husband LOVES spaghetti. Our youngest, Lucy seems to be following in his foot steps. :) My father in law calls my husband "Spaghetti Saurus Rex" if that gives you any idea how much he likes it and how long his love for it has been growing. haha
Tonight I made his favorite version of it and a friend of mine asked for the recipe so I am sharing!
I made a couple of substitutions based on what we had on hand that I will list at the end.

1 lb ground beef, 1/2 C chopped onion, 1/2 C chopped green bell pepper, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 - 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes, 1 - 6 oz can of tomato paste, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp thyme and salt and pepper to taste. 

Brown meat with onion, pepper and garlic then drain.
Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or desired consistency.

We just picked up our basket of fresh fruits and veggies yesterday morning from a food coop that has drop off locations in our town,, among this weeks ingredients were green peppers, onion and tomatoes!
So my substitutions were that I used fresh diced tomatoes and then added some tomato sauce and a small can of tomato juice that we had on hand. It turned out perfectly! 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A little about how I do what I do with our money

Hi all--
After my post the other day I got to thinking maybe someone out there somewhere would be interested in how (more detailed how) I've been making changes in our home to help save money and pay off debt.
So, today's post will be about our budget. A couple of strategies (if that's the right word) we are currently using are from a course I took several years ago through our old church in WA, it was Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. The pieces we are mainly using are trying to budget for anything we are spending money on. The idea is that most "surprise" expenses aren't a surprise at all. For example, we didn't used to budget for dog food but every month we buy it or we didn't have a real plan for sports or school photos but they aren't surprises, we knew they were coming. So now, we track where our money is going and budget accordingly for these expenses.
Another piece of Dave Ramsey's course is to start by getting money in your savings for emergencies so that you aren't struggling when those emergencies/unexpected expenses to come up. His course recommends $1,000 in that fund at all times while you're working on paying debt down.
After completing the emergency fund our goals are set on paying some debt down as fast as possible. Dave Ramsey's course talks about snowballing debt starting with the smallest first and then rolling those payments into the larger ones as you get them paid off. Our debt is a little different because we have a few that are small but aren't gaining interest and the larger ones are so we have decided to start with one that is costing us a lot extra in interest/penalties and then when that's paid we can focus on the smallest to the largest from there.
Another Dave Ramsey principal (looks like we are following his guidelines more than I realized!) is to budget to 0, if your bills and expenses are all accounted for and you have $5 extra at the end of the month it shouldn't get spent but paid toward whatever you are working toward getting done. This one is hard for me and I am working on it, my instincts want a cushion in our account and if we have extra I want to spend it! Gotta keep your eye on the prize. My prize is being able to be an at home mom and I just keep telling myself that's what my hard work is for.
Here is an example I found online that is similar to how we budget...

I have also started utilizing our online banking bill pay option and a free website called that helps you budget and categorize your expenses easily. Another Dave Ramsey principal is to use cash. I do use cash for our groceries but using cash for everything in our family isn't doable. But this is helpful to be aware of what you have and not using more than that. I think that covers our budgeting, if you have questions don't hesitate to ask. I'd be happy to help anyone else trying to make the same changes we are! I'm not sure what the next post will be about, maybe how our meal planning is going and saving us money.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Watching the $

A few weeks after the new year and my resolution is going strong. We have a budget that could have us mostly debt free in about 6 months, planning a vacation home (to WA to visit my family and friends!) and eating our meals at home!
Aside from our lack of energy from spreading ourselves thin (me working and maintaining our home and family and the hubby working 2 jobs) our plan is working well. We are seeing where our money is going and how we can get it going where we WANT it going. Hubby is keeping me on track and me him. 
We had a flu bug run through our home last week and I lost 4 pounds, I've noticed with eating our meals at home though I had already lost a pound or two and am maintaining the 4 pounds less weight! This is great motivation for me to keep up the work and energy I'm putting into keeping our meals at home. 
In review, we are making a budget and trying our darndest to stick to it in order to pay off our debts quickly (requires great restraint), preparing and eating our meals at home and keeping our receipts so we know what we are spending our money on. Already we are seeing the rewards of our hard work! 
If anyone out there is interested in more detailed explanations, let me know and I'd be happy to share. 
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ideas... Ideas...

So along with my new years resolution has come brainstorming, seems like I can't stop it lately...
The other day I did our weekly grocery trip and went over by $40 and this has been plaguing my thoughts!
It is AMAZING how quickly $40 adds up, 3 things alone made us go over. So that got me thinking, how can I prevent going over in the future on items like these. The 3 extras were a gift card for my nephew for Christmas (late!), a clearance toy and a splurge on a new years eve "party pack" (which wasn't even worth it because it didn't come with all the promised items! Goes without saying, I plan to return this one!!).

So, some ideas I came up with to avoid these items in the future... May seem obvious to some but maybe helpful to others.
1) Only buy gifts if we've planned and budgeted for them! (sigh) Other ways we can cut back is by maybe getting a less expensive gift or gift card or making something homemade...
2) Don't buy things on clearance, even if it's a great price. If you didn't PLAN to buy it then it's too much (may be easier said than done).
3) Research ways to decorate for holidays with things we have at home, I am sure a quick trip to pinterest would have resulted in much better stuff then the junk I have to return anyway.

So there are a few recent $ saving thoughts of mine.

Thanks for reading!

Beep Beep!

That, my friends, is the sound of me tooting my own horn! lol

Tonight we made Lylli's dinner pick which was hamburgers. Believe it or not, I have never made a burger on the stove top before. We BBQ them in the Summer but I just never had the urge to cook one inside. Since this was Lyl's pick I had to find a recipe and look up instructions so that I didn't mess it up. Let me just say that my research paid off and our homemade burgers were a SUCCESS!
I used this gal's recipe:
We have tried a few of her recipes and have found that her tastes are right in line with ours so I have come to the conclusion that if she has a recipe for what I am wanting to make that the odds are I will like it! Her burger recipe didn't disappoint. We cooked them on the stove top over medium heat and I'd say we ended up doing about 7 or so minutes on each side (maybe more). I like my meats cooked through but I like them to still be juicy. I found that one of the keys to this is a good meat thermometer  I was reluctant to get one because they aren't super inexpensive but the difference is amazing. Not having to cut open what we're cooking to check for pink means the juices stay in and keep the meat deliciously moist. That has been the case with 2 turkeys, baked chicken and pan fried burgers (so far!). So if you've been considering purchasing one but have been dragging your feet like I was, take it from me... Well worth the $$.
Here is the recipe in case you don't feel like clicking the link above, we didn't use step 9 and our burgers were still wonderful. I also mixed the ingredients and formed patties and let them sit int he fridge for a few hours before cooking which I am sure didn't hurt the flavor. :) **UPDATE: We also didn't have an envelope of dry onion soup mix so I just used the same amount of onion powder as I did garlic powder.

2 lbs ground beef
1 egg, slightly beaten
0.5 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix (can use the whole package if desired)
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic (or use 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs (or crushed soda cracker crumbs, more if needed) (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 -2 tablespoon Frank's red hot sauce (or 1-2 teaspoons crushed chili flakes, or can adjust to heat level) (optional)

In a bowl crumble the ground beef with clean hands.
Add in the dry soup mix, egg, garlic, breadcrumbs or crushed soda cracker crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and hot sauce (if using).
Using clean hands mix until combined, add in more breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs if needed to just hold the mixture together (do not overwork the meat or it will be tough).
Divide the ground beef into 6 equal patties (or make 8 small patties).
Using your large finger or the back of a small spoon make a shallow dent into the center of each patty (about 1-inch wide).
Place the patties onto a large plate or a small cookie sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours or up to 24 hours to blend flavors.
Grill or pan fry the burgers as desired until cooked through (if desired sprinkle a small amount of seasoned salt on top while cooking the patties).
Serve burgers in toasted buns with choice of condiments.
TIPS FOR EXTRA JUICINESS; shape the hamburger into a ball, press 1 tablespoon cold butter into the middle then seal the meat around the ball then flatten into burger shapes ----or add in 2-4 tablespoons raw finely grated potato into the hamburger mixture then shape into patties, use no more than 4 tablespoons for 2 pounds of ground beef or the burgers will take on a meatloaf texture.

Thanks for reading!