Monday, March 31, 2014

Frozen Elsa Cape {tutorial w/ pictures}

I bought the movie Frozen this last week because we all enjoyed it so much. I was kind of upset at myself though, because I rented it from family video the week prior, and ended up keeping it overdue. I paid almost $20 in late fees. No bueno :( I should have just bought it right away since it would have cost the same amount!

You live and you learn :) My sister in law saw a pin on pinterest for making an Elsa cape rom the movie Frozen, for my niece, and asked if I could make it.  I said yes, of course! This project was actually really simple, and easy to make. I looked at a bunch of tutorials to find ideas and then went to work. I think this tutorial is one of the best. It turned out great and I'm so excited for my niece!

I found my fabric at JoAnns Fabric Store, and it was really on sale. I always look at the sale stuff before I pay full price because fabric can get costly.

1. To start fold your fabric in half. I folded the widest part of the fabric, so it would make a longer train for the cape, but it would be smaller around the neck.

2. I started by sewing the top part of the cape where the neck would go. I used my iron to press the fold I made for a hem. I folded it twice because this fabric is very thin and you need a good amount for the string to really hold it nicely.

3. I then pinned my hem, and got to sewing the hem. I made sure to sew over the ends of the hem twice, just to make sure it would hold nicely.

4. Now, I took thread and a needle and went about 2 inches from my hem. I just weaved in and out of the fabric and when it was though to the end, I just pushed the fabric down the string to make frillies :)

5. Next I carefully held my frillies as I guided them through my sewing machine to make the neck piece of the cape.

6. I took my pins and pinned a piece of ribbon on my sewing line over the frillies that I did. I left about half a foot (6 inches) of ribbon hanging off each side of the cape, so my niece would have a way to keep it tied on.

7. After that, I hemmed the bottom of the garment the same way I hemmed the top. I made a double fold, used my iron to press it, pinned it and sewed it.

8. Then just like above I pinned a piece of ribbon along my hem line and sewed that on, but without leaving any hanging off. I just pinned it underneath and sewed it on so the end were secure. And I made sure to double stitch the ends.

9. Lastly, I used my sharpie paint marker and made the snowflakes! They are so pretty!

Sorry if my sewing lingo is bad, I don't really know many terms and am just learning myself! I hope I explained it enough to understand and if not hopefully the pictures fill in the gaps. Have fun making your Elsa cape!

While I was sewing, my little guys were outside enjoying the beautiful weather and getting muddy! At first his face was so serious because I told him he was to messy to walk in the house, then I said smile! It was really cute. We also had beautiful walk to the park and got to play. It was a nice day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Roasted Veggies Mexican Casserole

This is such a great one dish meal. All of my family really enjoyed it and it will be going in my recipe book that I'm working on. Its fairly easy, and inexpensive to make. You don't have to use meat but I choose to put in chicken because my husband is serious meat man. To him no meal is ever complete without meat BUT to me I could be a vegetarian some days.

My kids eat almost everything I make, sometimes they say it takes a little different but if they are hungry enough they will eat it. Also, in our house we have a rule that if you don't finish your meal you have to eat it before you eat anything else. Food is TOO expensive to be picky and waste.

Last week at the butter I buy was $2 more! Now that is some serious inflation. Food prices are rising everyday, so its important to me to find healthy recipes that I can afford.

Roasted Veggies Mexican Casserole
1 can corn OR one bad frozen corn
4 sweet peppers
1 onion
1 can black beans, rinsed, and pureed or smashed up
1lb shredded chicken or ground beef, cooked {optional}
2 cups cheese
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
corn tortillas to layer, I  used about 6
2 cups enchilada sauce
avocado and sour cream to top it

1. Place some oil in your pan and let it warm up.
2. Chop up your sweet peppers and onion,open bag or can of corn, put into pan with warmed up oil.
3. After about 10 minutes add cumin and chilli powder, mix up.
4. When veggies are roasted, slighly browned turn off pan, keep veggies in pan until ready to put casserole together.
5. Preheat oven to 350. Either use blender and puree black beans or smash them up if you don't have a blender.
6. Cut tortilla's in half, pour a little enchilada sauce on bottom of baking dish, then cover the bottom with the cut in half tortillas {I cut in half because I think you can cover more of the pan}
7. Pour and spread out black beans on top of tortillas in baking dish.
8. Layer half the chicken, veggies, cheese and enchilda sauce.
9. Then, layer the tortillas, other half of chicken, veggies, cheese and enchilada sauce.
10. Place in oven for about 15-20 minutes, really just until cheese is melted and everything is warmed.
11. ENJOY a warm homemade meal with your family.

We always strive to sit together at least once a day and share a meal. I remember reading about how important it is for families to sit down and eat together. I can tell you that when we sit down together it really has a calming effect on our day, helps us to all be in the same place at the same time, doing the same thing, and enjoy each others company :) Are some meal times kinda crazy, YEP! But by the time everybody has their plates filled with food, everything calms down and peace sets in, at least for a little bit ;)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

!Kombucha! {Helpful Video Link Tutorial}

Kombucha is a raw, fermented tea, but don't run away from it yet! It is filled with good gut bacteria called probiotics. Its known and said to have many health benefits even beyond your precious tummy.

I really liked this article for What is Kombucha, if you have more questions. the article goes into more detail about its origins.

Fermented foods used to be a part of our ancestors diet, but in these days we have such accessibility and refrigeration that fermented foods have been put on the back burner. I believe its part of the reason our GUTS are so torn up! With our American diets killing us, we need to check back into history and see what our ancestors did. 

When you make kombucha you will need a culture called a scoby.

What is a SCOBY?  
SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of friendly bacteria and yeast and thats just what it is.

Where can I get a SCOBY?
1.You can buy a starter culture from Cultures for Health. 2. You can ask a friend that brews kombucha if they have a SCOBY, since a new SCOBY is made everytime you make a new batch of kombucha.
3. Or you can start your own using a bottle of store bought raw, unflavored, original kombucha. { I found mine at woodmans}

I really like this videa by holistic habits and used it to make both my own SCOBY and my kombucha. She does a great job explaining exactly what to do and how to make kombucha and also how to make the SCOBY.

Its easy to make kombucha regularly after you have your SCOBY, so try it out and see what goodness you can come up with! You can make flavored juices with it, sodas, popsicles, and I'm sure more then what I know. I hope this little article helped. These are all the questions I had when I first learned about kombucha.

Have Fun!

Tostones {Fried Plantains}

The people in your life are definitely an influence, especially when your young and impressionable. Where you grow up, the foods you've eaten, the culture around you all impact your ways of thinking about life. Young minds especially need to be nurtured and disciplined when young, so they will grow with the ability to be respectful, honest, and moral adults.

My childhood took place mostly in a large city, with a melting pot of culture. My school was bilingual, as many children only spoke Spanish. The way I talked, dressed, acted was all influenced by the lifestyle around me. My father lived in a different town then my mother and I, so when I went to his house to visit, I remember him asking me why I talked like that. He was referring to my south side accent that I acquired. At times it still comes out without trying. I responded to my father by saying " talk like what". To me it was normal.

In that time of my life I spent a lot of time with some amazing Puerto Ricans I'll never forget! I pretty much lived with them. They were my family and by marriage are permanently now! Their Mother was an amazing cook, and I really feel like she has helped me learn a lot about being a woman. Now that I look back, she was always teaching me something. She took care of her home, children and cooked. When I think of her, I can hear her saying "Limpia la casa!", meaning clean the house in Spanish :)  Stern yet loving, kind, and beautiful.

She would always make the most delicious food, and I still today crave it. She would make these banana like things called "tostones", a fried plantain, and they were my absolute favorite! They went perfect with rice and beans. Yum! I should have just paid attention better and I would know how to make this stuff, BUT its always better coming from a loved one.

I finally did learn how to make my "tostones". I'm still learning and I'm sure I'll get the rice and beans down soon :) Here is my recipe for healthy homemade tostones.

 Tostones {Fried Plantains} 

1 plantain
1-2 TBSP Coconut Oil
Salt for taste

Cut the ends off your plantain, and carefully slice the peel of the plantain. Take out the plantain and cut into thin slices.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your pan, then add plantains, making sure they are not overlapping.

Cook on medium heat until slightly browned or darker, however you like them. {I like mine a bit more browned, it has a good flavor}

Cover a plate with a paper towel and place the tostones on the plate, sprinkle with desired amount of salt.

¡Buen provecho!

I may not be puerto rican in decent but the culture runs through my veins and in my heart!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

DIY Picture Frame Chalkboard {Craft Time!}

How many times do your kids ask, "Whats for dinner?". Mine ask everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, and sometimes I get a bit annoyed. I know I shouldn't because if I wasn't the cook I would want to know too!

So I saw this awesome picture for using chalkboard paint and it gave me an idea! I can make a chalkboard out of a old picture frame, SO I can write the weekly menu out AND hopefully I will be asked less about whats for lunch AND the kids will know whats for lunch more! And honestly, sometimes I forget what I'm making that day so this will help me too :)

I'm sure this will take some adjusting, so I do expect to be asked, but I will be able to direct them to the chalkboard. Well, at least I can direct my 6 year old and he can relay the information to his 2 year old brother ;) This will ALSO help my 6 year old expand his vocabulary, and read aloud! Mom's are geniuses!!

DIY Picture Frame Chalkboard

-1 large picture frame from thrift shop or one you have {I used an old picture frame I already had}
-chalk paint {I found mine @ walmart for $5}
-sponge, OR something with a smooth surface to paint on chalk paint

 First thing you need to do is clean the glass with vinegar water, OR whatever window cleaning product you use. {Vinegar water is non toxic, cheaper and works just as good!}

Next you will use your sponge, paint brush, or whatever you have to paint on the chalkboard paint.

After you paint on the first coat let it dry for 1 hour.

Once the first coat has set for one hour, you will apply a second coat.

Let the painted glass sit for 24 hours before use.

You can then put your frame back together and get your chalk!


I used mine like I said above for a weekly menu but you can use yours for a grocery list, any kind of list, reminder board, chores bored, time outs, home school, whatever you can think of!

Hope you enjoyed this and it inspires you to create something new!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

No Bake Delightful Granola Bars {Gluten Free}

I have made granola bars in the past, but they were crumbly, and just not good. So I went back to buying store bought bars, but now that I'm eating gluten free it became more expensive to find quality gluten free granola bars. I also wanted to make them kid friendly. When I make something, my goal is to make something the whole family will like. Sometimes this momma's house does feel like a restaurant with all the good food, but this momma's restaurant only has one thing on the menu per meal ;) Lol.

Delightful Granola Bars

2c Rice Cereal
2c Gluten Free Oats
1/2c Peanut Butter
1/4c Light Brown Sugar {I used Coconut sugar}
2/3c Honey {Or Brown rice syrup}
1tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Vanilla
1c Nuts {I used Walnuts}{optional}
1/2c Mini Chocolate Chips or cocoa nibs {Optional}
1/2c Cranberries {Or your dried fruit of choice}
1/2tsp Salt

First you need to pour honey, peanut butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan and cook on low heat until mixture is melted together.

 Next, add your oats and crispy cereal to a bowl and pour warm honey mixture on, mixing it all well.

 Add your vanilla, cinnamon, cranberries, and nuts.

 Lastly add your chocolate chips, BUT be careful not to mix them to much or they will melt!

 Next line a large pan with plastic wrap, and spray plastic with non stick spray OR spread some oil on it, so your bars won't stick to it when they are done. {I used coconut oil to spread on it}

 Then place the pan in the freezer for about 1 hour.

 After the hour take out the pan, and VERY CAREFULLY pull the bars out using the plastic wrap.

 Slice the bars with a sharp knife, carefully. {You can taste test any that break ;)}

Cut into desired size bars.

I individually wrapped my bars and placed them in a baggie for a quick snack. I placed some in the fridge and some in the freezer, there were quite a few. I made these a couple weeks ago and they are almost gone now!

These bars turned out great and I'm really thankful to have found a gluten free recipe for some good granola bars! Here is a link to where I found the base of this recipe, Averie Cooks, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Little Girls Headband & Apron {Great for Beginners}

I have been using my sewing machine a lot more lately, and I think I'm improving. My mind is starting to see ahead of my project, which REALLY helps when your sewing. So, I'm encouraging anyone who is a beginner at sewing or who wants to learn, TAKE THE CHALLENGE AND DON'T GIVE UP! In the beginning you will make mistakes, get frustrated, break a few needles, but you will be setting the groundwork to becoming a proficient in the sewing world! You will be able to know how to make clothes in case anybody needs them! LOL.

And when you do make your first project you will be soo proud and excited, BUT you may not use it because while you did a really good job, its not really that good, you still need to work out some kinks.

This week I decided to work on some sewing projects for my niece who is turning 4 years old. I have three boys and don't get the chance at making girly things a lot unless they are for me, so I get excited when I have the opportunity :) I was looking on pinterest for some neat ideas and found this awesome headband tutorial and super easy apron pattern tutorial. They were easy to follow, and had great pictures! I can't wait to try making my own patterns and upload my PDF files for all of you. Until then you can enjoy my tried and true projects, and there owner links!

I have made head bands before on my own without a tutorial and they turned out okay but this tutorial really helped! I bought some fabric that was on sale for 80% at JoAnns fabric, and used some scraps from my own supply, which made the cost of my project very affordable. The real critic will be the person receiving the gift! Nonetheless I truly enjoyed making this headband and apron.

Check back for more tried and true sewing tutorials and hopefully some of my very own!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

EASY Fool Proof Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Crock-pot meals are a favorite among most women I know. Its easy, kind of gives you a break in the kitchen, little clean up, BUT you get a delicious, warm, home cooked meal! Cooking in the crock-pot you rarely overcook meat because of the settings, so you usually always get a juicy chuck of meat.

Also since summer isn't here yet, maybe a bit of BBQ will kick some winter blues ;)

This recipe is so easy, you can use a homemade rub or buy a family favorite BBQ sauce. Make sure you check the ingredients though, because high fructose corn sugar likes to show its face on a lot of common BBQ sauces.

The sauces I choose from are Two Fat Guys Gourmet BBQ Sauce, OR Stubb's Original/Sweet. The ingredient list is short, and I can pronounce the ingredients. Also if I had to I could use there recipes to make my own since the ingredients are common.

EASY Fool Proof Crock-Pot BBQ Chicken

1 whole chicken
BBQ Sauce

Place your chicken in your crock-pot and turn on to preferred level, low, medium or high. Make sure it will be done when you need it too! Add about 3-4 cups of water, this may depend on how big your crock-pot is.

When your chicken is done in the crock pot, pre-heat oven to 350.

Take your chicken out of the crock pot carefully, I usually use a large spatula. Your chicken will be moist and falling off the bones. You want to carefully transfer it to a oven safe dish.

Pour BBQ sauce or Rub on chicken liberally, making sure its all over.

Place in oven for about 10-15 minutes, just until skin is browned and sauce has pasted onto the chicken.

Your chicken is ready to serve!

You can serve with this Homemade Yummy Macaroni Dish{Gluten Free}, and a fresh salad.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

REAL Food Nachos {Gluten Free} AND The Challenges of Being Hungry @ The Grocery Store With Kids

Today I totally forgot to bring a snack with me, that's always a bad idea when I know I'll be gone longer then 2-3 hours. Thankfully I had to stop at the store on my way home anyways, so I figured I would grab a few bananas for the kids and I to hold us over.

As I was walking through the store, I could tell my kids were just as hungry as I was. I had to stop myself from looking at everything, and just focus on why I came. The kids looked like vultures circling their prey ready to grab everything! I had to keep the cart in the middle of the isle so Weston didn't grab things from the shelves. I told Michael to hold onto the cart to keep himself from fingerprinting every box of goodies he saw.

Finally I grabbed some salmon and baby items and we headed to the checkout, BUT that's the worst place to be when your hungry. First they have magazines lined up with tons of garbage all over it and junk food galore. Weston grabbed for the kill and got a snickers, I gently grabbed it saying that i had some bananas in the cart for us to have. Thankfully he was so excited about the banana that he gladly let the snickers go without a fight.

As we left the checkout and everybody bundled back up to go into the arctic zone {I'm exaggerating a bit, but its so cold and keeps snowing, ah!} I gave the boys a banana. We got into the car and started on our way home. Along the road there was a lady waiting at the bus stop, and she pulled a doughnut out of her bag and started eating it. My first thought was, I wonder where she got that from? Hence where's the closet bakery BUT I stayed on my mission of home. Bakeries are places I rarely visit, because there's no gluten free options and I like to make homemade goodies anyway. BUT when your hungry anything with carbs looks good.

So when we got home Michael made peanut butter and jellies for Weston and himself, and I decided to make some REAL food nachos. Its so easy and you can add whatever you like or have on hand.

REAL Food Nachos

Corn Tortilla Chips
shredded cheese {I used RAW cheese I found @ woodmans! I was so excited}
black beans {optional}
plain yogurt {Or sour cream}
Guacamole or avocados {I used some leftover guacamole} {optional}

Other toppings you can use:
And whatever else you can think of

Spread out your chips on a plate, sprinkle shredded cheese over the top, add black beans {and other items that need to be heated up}.

Warm up in the microwave for about 30-40 sec

 Add yogurt{sour cream}, salsa, and guacamole


You can do this as a treat, snack, dinner, or for a party. People can make their own and personalize which topping they like.

You can always melt the cheese in a pot and add some butter and milk to make it more creamy like, but serve immediately before it gets to stiff ;)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Before You Call for Delivery, READ THIS! Eating REAL food is NOT about dieting, Also, Homemade Pizza Night {Gluten Free}

Running short on time, or forget about dinner? Don't get fast food or order out just yet! 

Homemade pizza is SO YUMMY and super quick. I actually ran to the store and grabbed some premade gluten free dough but I had all the other ingredients on hand. Sometimes I enjoy take-out too BUT I try to do everything I can to make all our meals at home. And places l eat are limited if the choice is up to me.  Since we are a one income household, we also have to be budget conscious when eating out and making food at home is ALWAYS cheaper for us.

{Recipe at bottom of post}

I enjoy cooking and I feel good about knowing whats in my food. Nothing is worse then going out to a restaurant so hungry, ordering things you normally wouldn't, questioning whats in the food, then eating it anyways. AND then you regret it about 10-20 minutes after when your stomach is hurting, your head is pounding and your so upset that you just treated yourself that way. Okay maybe that's how I feel, but you get my point. I have felt this way too many times that I have decided if I'm struggling and want something I know is gonna make me feel yuck, I will make it with REAL food in my own kitchen with ingredients I know my body will appreciate.

YOU are worth REAL food. Eating REAL food doesn't have to be like a diet, and you don't have to cheat. You can eat REAL treats. I'm going to be making some yummy brownies this week, but with REAL food and one of the ingredients is zucchini :) Look for the recipe coming soon!

I don't have to feel like garbage after I eat REAL treats, and I don't have to have guilt over my head because I cheated on my diet. And I don't have to feel like I messed up so now I'll just go back to eating whatever.

Your body is like a car, if you don't feed it the right fuel, its gonna burn out, explode, and fall apart.

I have chosen to not eat refined white sugar as much as is within my power, I have substituted all my sugar in recipes for stevia or honey. I'm doing this for many reasons, 1. I'm addicted to sugar and going cold turkey would create a monster, 2. I'm trying to heal my stomach but still crave sweet things sometimes, 3. Stevia doesn't have the same harmful effects as other sweeteners, such as aspartame which is known to cause neurological effects., 

I have chosen to quit gluten. After I had some blood tests done I have chosen for my health that its better to cut out all gluten as much as is in my power from my diet. I'm so thankful to God that I have done this. For me cutting out gluten also helped limit my carbohydrate intake {breads, pastas, muffins, cookies, etc.} Carbohydrates and sugar are whats making US {Americans} fat, NOT fat. We need fat, good fat, such as avocados, peanut butter, nuts, some meat, coconut oil. I feel more clear headed and have more energy as well.

Some people have also talked about cutting out all grains, I'm not there yet. I still eat rice which is naturally gluten free, quinoa, and popcorn. I do try to make recipes without grains because i want to limit my carbohydrates, but I'm comfortable at this point with eating rice, quinoa, and popcorn. I also do not eat rice made in the USA if I can help it, it has high levels of arsenic, although this can be in any rice, the US rice has very high levels. I usually buy basmati rice, jasmine white or jasmine brown rice.

You can curb cravings by replacing them, for example trade a late night snack with a warm cup of tea. You can also make healthier versions, in my case I like peanut butter cups, BUT I'm eating sugar free now, so I have a recipe for homemade sugar free peanut butter cups. Most products on the market that are sugar free, are dangerous because of the artificial sweeteners and have no nutritional value. My homemade peanut butter cups have a plant based sugar alternative, stevia, pure organic protein filled peanut butter, and dark chocolate with antioxidants, OR Chocolate protein powder, OR Carob protein which is naturally caffeine free. I will post that recipe soon :)

Its hard in the beginning to change your routine, and to turn your back on things that are easily accessible, fast, convenient, and something you really like. BUT the longer you start weaning yourself towards eating REAL foods, you start to feel better, energized, and overall better. You won't want to go back to the foods that gave you a quick good feeling, but afterword made you feel yucky. And if you do, it will be a reminder why you chose to give it up. {I know this from personal experience :)}

Homemade Pizza Night

Make this a fun night with your kids, get all the toppings out and let them help, or make individual pizzas. Make your dough from scratch or buy premade dough. If I still ate gluten I would have made my own dough BUT with being gluten free I'm still learning how to bake with gluten free flours and such, SO it was easier for me to get some gluten free premade dough. Buying premade dough to me is better then ordering out pizza. I can still remember the last time I ate take out pizza, I felt so yucky that I couldn't even sleep that night, it was horrible! SO, now I make our pizzas at home. Since I'm gluten free it also helps me reject certain foods I normally might cave on. I feel so good after being off gluten, I don't wanna go back!

Use what you have or add what you want!

Here's what I did:
1 box of 4 Premade Gluten free pizza dough from Woodmans
feta cheese
pasta sauce or pizza sauce
minced garlic
olive oil

You can also use/try:
shredded cheese
Parmesan cheese
BBQ sauce
bell peppers

I spread a little olive oil on the dough before adding any toppings, then I spread out some minced garlic on the crust.

I added my sauce, then my spinach, add cheese, meat and veggies.

Bake until cheese is melty, and/or crust is tanned.


Here is a recipe for homemade gluten free dough, I will be trying this soon!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Don’t Let the Name Fool You

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