Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This is a wonderful website that can help you with so many things!

Food tracker? Check.
Exercise tracker? Check.

Seriously, this website has it all..Check it out when you get a chance!

Silk Tie Dyed Easter Eggs

Silk Tie Dyed Easter Eggs

These beauties are SUPER easy to make!!! It'll make dyeing Easter Eggs with your family so much more fun! Supplies Needed: 100% Silk Ties (I bought a bunch at Goodwill for $2 a piece), scissors, rubber bands or twisty ties, any type of white scrap material, RAW eggs, vinegar, water, and a pot.

The ties HAVE to be 100% silk or it won't work! I did notice that a couple of the ties I used said they were 100% silk, but nothing transferred to the eggs so obviously they weren't telling the truth.

First things first, rip apart the ties. Take out all of the lining and remove any loose strings.

Depending on the size of the tie you'll be able to cover 2-4 eggs. Cut just enough material from the tie to be able to completely wrap around the egg.

Wrap the egg with the print side TOWARDS the egg.

Be careful when wrapping the egg since they are RAW and could crack.

Secure the material with a rubber band or twisty tie.

TIP: Try to wrap the egg so there are as FEW creases as possible...The creases will show up (I'll show you what I mean at the end of the post).

Then take your white scrap material (I cut up an old pillow case) and cover the egg again. Secure with another rubber band.

The white material keeps the colors from the various ties from bleeding when you boil them all together.

Once all the eggs are wrapped in both the tie material and the white scrap material you are ready to cook them.

Take a large pot of water and add at least 1/4 cup vinegar--more may be needed depending on the size of the pot.

Add all of the covered eggs to the pot of water and turn on the heat. Bring water to a boil. Boil for 25 minutes.

When they are done cooking, remove them from the water, but leave them WRAPPED! Allow them to cool and dry on a towel while they are still wrapped. (I would say at least an hour and then you can transfer them to the fridge to continue cooling and drying if you plan to eat the eggs later).

Unwrap and enjoy!!!

As I mentioned before, if there are a lot of creases in your material when you wrap the egg, they will show up on the finished product (note the white streaks on the eggs). It is inevitable to have some, so try to pull the fabric so the creases are all on one side of the egg.


PS-I would love to give credit to the originator of this idea, but I couldn't pinpoint the 1st person. Sorry!

simple crafts

My son is 2. Nothing keeps him entertained for long. I have found that crafts are a great idea as long as they are short and sweet and to the point. Here are a few toddler crafts that will take up a good chunk of time and they have something to show off when they are done.

Rice shaker: old paper towel tube, rice wax paper to cover the end. Some tape, and a 12x12 piece of white paper the kids can draw on.

Wrap one end with double thick wax paper. Tape it to the tube. Pour in some rice or popcorn kernels, secure the other end with wax paper and tape. Wrap the tube in the 12/x12 piece of paper that the kiddos decorated and tape it on. Shake away.
Painting: Go to JoAnns, buy a small wooden birdhouse for $1.29. Buy some water-based Acrylic paint. Paint away, kid...paint away.

The dunce cap (or party hat): piece of 12x12 paper, stapler or tape, and crayons. Let the kids color the paper. Wrap it into a cone. Cut and staple (or tape) as needed.

My son LOVES wearing this silly hat.

The best part of all of these crafts is they are geared for the little ones. They take miminal planning and minimal mess (my favorite part). Plus, the kids LOVE that they have created something.

How to Pretty up your Bathroom Towel**TUTORIAL**

Looking for a way to pretty up your bathroom?  Here is an easy, but super cute way to add a little personalization to your bathroom towels.   

What you need:
A Bathroom Towel (any size this will also work with washclothes)
Sewing Machine
Sewing pins
Step one:  The ribbon I chose had wire in it so I had to take it out.  If yours has wire remove it. 
Just a picture of the towel I chose
Step 2:
Pin your ribbon to the band at each end of your towel.  I only did this on one side of the towel.  If you flip it over it won't a ribbon on it.  I didn't want my thread to show and I didn't know how to match it up perfectly so it would look good.  
Step 3:
Sewing along the edge of the ribbon, sew your ribbon to your towel. I used black thread so it wouldn't show on the under side.  I made sure to sew on the outer edge where the ribbon had black stitching so you wouldn't see my thread.
Step 4:
 Remove the pins and VIOLA! Isn't it cute?  I love it. 
Here is a glimpse of the Spa Package I put together using the newly created towel.   
I made a matching Do Not Disturb Sign to match the towel. I am jealous that I didn't make two of each for myself.   How fun is this.  You could easily customize any towel, washcloth, dish towel, etc. for a fun gift basket. 
For more fun craft ideas come over and visit me at Positively Peaches
Happy Crafting!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Easy Salsa

I am a huge fan of yummy salsa and this is about as good as it gets (I could be biased because it's my own recipe, but you'll just have to trust me!)

The best part of this salsa is it is ALL to taste so you can add as much or as little of any ingredient as you want. The measurements I use aren't exact--just a rough estimate of what I use each time...

1 large handful of cilantro (rinsed)
1/4 yellow or white onion
3-4 slices of jalapeno (I like mine hot)

Blend those 3 ingredients together


1 can of diced tomatoes

juice of 1 lemon

garlic salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

salt (to taste)

Blend all together to the consistency you like. Chill in fridge until ready to eat.

Tip: I like this best with Tostitos: Hint of Lime Chips.

YUM! Enjoy!



Christmas Topiary

Christmas Topiary

Supplies Needed: Topiary Styrofoam Cone, Christmas ornaments of varying sizes and colors, hot glue gun, and candle stick holder. (All of my supplies were found at JoAnns).

Some of the balls were just plain round.

The ones that come in a bunch with wire stems are the best because you can just stick them in the foam without using a glue gun. I used these as fillers to cover up any white space.

Some ornaments were shiny others were glittery. I used 4-5 coordinating colors to add variety and dimension.

I started at the bottom and did the first row using all the different ornaments. I glued them all to the cone to help secure them in place--do this even if they look like they would stay on their own--trust me!

Tip: To avoid any left over white space you can paint the cone a corresponding color before you begin.

Work your way up to the top of the cone and when you are done use the smaller ornaments to fill in the blank spaces between the balls.

Glue the Topiary to an old candle stick.

Allow yourself 3-4 hours for the entire project (depending on the size of the cone and the type of ornaments you purchase. It's well worth the effort! Have Fun!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yogurt Parfait

1/2 c. plain yogurt

1 c. mixed fruit, sliced

1/2 cup granola


Layer 2 TBS each of the yogurt, fruit and granola.  Repeat until you read the top of the glass and end with the yogurt. 

*If you have a tall, clear glass it’s fun to see the layers…

Popcorn in a bag

1/4 c. popcorn kernels

2 TBS. olive oil

Brown paper lunch bag



Toss the popcorn in olive oil and place in bag.  Fold down the top and staple. 

Put in the microwave for 2 +/- minutes.  Listen for the popping to stop and take out immediately.

Sprinkle with salt.

Frozen Banana Pops

2 Medium Ripe Bananas

4 chopsticks

2 cups plain low fat yogurt

1 cup of cereal (granola*, cheerios, or whatever you like)


Peel the bananas and cut them crosswise in half.  Insert a chopstick into each half, dip in yogurt and roll in the cereal until evenly coated. 

Place on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm (3-4 hours). 

*Homemade granola recipe HERE

Homemade Vanilla Granola

Not much tastes better than homemade granola.  This one tastes great!

  • 8 c. oats
  • 2 c. sliced almonds
  • 1 c. wheat germ (I omitted this)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • craisins or raisins to taste (optional)
  • 3/4 c. canola oil
  • 1 c. honey
  • 3 TBS vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine first 8 ingredients (dry ingredients) in a large bowl.  In a saucepan combine oil, honey, and vanilla and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 1 minute then pour over oat mixture. 

Mix until all ingredients are moistened.  Divide and spread mixture over 2 large cookie sheets and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and leave on pans until the granola hardens.  Break up granola and store in large ziploc bags or containers. 

*I cut this recipe in half.  I also thought there was too much salt in this, so I would cut it in half next time.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Healthy Snacks

Snacks are hard in our home.  It is SO easy to pop open a box of Nilla Wafers or hand them some pudding.  Not that these are necessarily bad (in moderation), but it isn’t the healthiest thing you could give your kids. 

I have found that they love to dip.  In anything.  So, I put out carrots or cucumbers and let them dip in Ranch dressing.  Hummus?  They love it…

I was reading an article that gave a list of 6 snacks that you can’t OVERDO!  I love this.  I am not really a moderation type of person.  If I am hungry, I eat. and eat. and eat.  (I chew a lot of gum!) Perfect!

Most of the things on the list are super easy and you probably already have it at home.

Here’s the article by SHAPE Magazine:

1.)  Homemade Cucumber Pickles

2.) Air-popped Popcorn

3.) Zucchini carpaccio

4.) Canned artichokes

5.)  Homemade Kale Chips

6.)  Finger-food veggies


Happy Eating!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

The down on sunscreen

Summer is right around the corner, {I hope!}  With summer comes longer days, warmer weather, sun and playing outside…

Sometimes I forget to put sunscreen on my kids {gasp} but I am trying extremely hard to be better about it.  It is so important that we do…

Please, Please, Please read these articles about sunscreen.  Read them even BEFORE buying sunscreen. Click the link below for more info:


EWG’s skin deep

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Sunday Debate

Let’s talk about the Sabbath.  What is your opinion on the way you spend it?

Growing up, I didn’t play sports on Sunday.  BUT, if I had a Choir concert  I went.  Luke thinks this is hypocritical.  {In his defense, he wasn’t always LDS.}

What do you think?

*I think that music can bring you closer to the Spirit.  Sports?  Not so much.

*Here’s my disclaimer: Whatever is said here is MY opinion. Whatever is said in the COMMENT section are OTHER people’s comments.

Lindsay Brin Fitness

I am not a fitness expert by any sense of the word. I would say that I am quite a novice, BUT I have had lots of exposure to fitness:
High school. College. Weight training classes. Gym Membership. Tae Bo videos (does this count?). Pilates. Lindsay Brin.

Let me repeat myself. Lindsay. Brin. She is amazing! A few years ago I happened on a college friend's blog. We hadn't seen or heard from each other since those days, so it was really nice to catch up. Well, on the side of her blog, she had a before and after picture. The Before Lindsay Brin and the After with Lindsay Brin. It was incredible.

Since that time, I have won 3 different DVD's and I am in love. This lady knows her stuff. She is funny, smart and dang ripped. And she is a mom. She has 2 kids and is pregnant with #3. She has struggled with getting pregnant and is a true-to-life person.

I have emailed back and forth with her {did I mention how down to earth she is?} and follow her on FB. She really is something to behold.
If you get a chance. Jump on over to her blog: http://www.momsintofitness.com/

You'll be glad that you did.

Diastasis recti

Having children is one of life's greatest gifts. {I wouldn't include pregnancy in this, but it's a necessary evil!!} Along with having children, comes the joys of motherhood: sleepless nights, nursing issues, infertility, etc. It's can be plain hard.
Add to that mix: your body. Out-of-shape {for the majority of us}, a body that doesn't function the same; a broken body.
After baby #1 I had a lower pudge. It didn't seem like it ever went away. I know that part of it was genetics, part was having a baby and most of it was me.
After #2, that lower belly grew a bit. It wasn't too bad, but it was still there.
After #3, I knew that my stomach was shot. It wasn't hard to see. I was about 25 lbs over what I was post #2, and it was bad.
Then one day, I was leaning back in the shower to rinse my hair..and I noticed a bulge down the middle of my stomach. It was weird. Almost like something was trying to push out.
I showed it to my husband and he didn't seem overly concerned, but it weirded him out a bit. Then I went online to start researching it. And researching it. And researching it. I found a name for it: Diastasis recti. The separating of the ab muscles.
It's generally pretty normal in pregnancies. Especially if you are short-waisted and the baby can only grow out {me}. What "normally" happens after pregnancy is that your abs go back together, unless..well, they don't.
There are ways to figure out if you have it: diastasis recti info. I did it and I was about 3-4 finger lengths wide.
Fast forward a few days: I figured that the exercises I was doing were actually making it WORSE! So, I stopped sit-ups, etc. I also thought that I would make an appointment with a plastic surgeon. I wanted to know all of my options. After thinking about this, I asked Luke to come over and double check that I wasn't dreaming and that my fingers really did sink in.
He was HORRIFIED! He couldn't believe it. I could've talked.talked.talked about it all day long, but for him to check himself? He was a believer.
Anyway, long story short. Going to get a tummy tuck isn't an option right now. It might be necessary down the road after children, but let's be honest...I don't have $$ to do it right now and if/when we have more kids=I would have to have another surgery=more $$.
Other options? Julie Tupler's technique. Support sites like: Raising Arrows and Beautiful after the Belly and Linsay Brin. They have all been a guiding light.

Are there post-partum things that you are worried about?

Crazy 8 Sale!!

HUGE sale for Memorial Day weekend.  Everything $10.99 and less..in stores and online!

CRAZY8 sale

Hawaiian Chicken Salad

This is one of my favorite summer picnic foods! Mmmm so good! Sorry there are no pics!

2 c. chicken (I use 2 cans chicken)
1/2 c. celery
3/4 c. pineapple
1/3 c. craisins
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream
2 Tbls. green onions
1 tsp. Beaumonde Seasoning (by Spice Islands, or use garlic powder)
1 tsp. garlic powder
cashew halves or sliced almonds
1 tsp. lemon juice
Stir together everything but the fruit. When mixed well, softly fold the fruit into the mixture. Serve on large rolls, such as croissant rolls, or on a green salad. I also like to eat it in thick pita bread.

The American Lifestyle and what you can do…

The Standard American lifestyle has become so busy and hectic that food and nutrition is often not a first priority.  We have to eat and eating is something we want to sandwich in really quickly between activities in our lives.  Until we get sick or overweight, we don't think of changing our food.  And even then, most people rely on prescription medications to control their symptoms and keep eating how they've been eating.

What many people do not realize, is that what we put into our bodies is TRULY important!  Think of it this way, "toxic in, toxic out". If your food is toxic (unhealthy, processed, and devoid of nutrients), your life has the potential to be toxic. What we put into our bodies, if consistently unhealthy and processed, may eventually manifest itself as an illness. If our bodies do not go there, they are likely to go to decreased immunity, pain, and/or loss of energy. The environment inside our bodies matters.  What we put into our bodies matters. If we are suffering, it could be because our diet is suffering.

It can be an overwhelming task to change our diets.  I suggest focusing on "crowding out".  Instead of taking away everything that we are eating, just slowly start adding some healthy foods.  Adding some greens is a great way to start (spinach, kale, collard greens, watercress, etc.)  Greens are the most nutrient dense food and there are so many things you can do with them.  Something simple will do - a green smoothie or a salad with a yummy dressing.  Don't worry about giving up your chocolate, just start drinking green smoothies in the morning.  Eventually, you will find yourself wanting less and less of the junk and more and more of the food that is making your body feel healthy and energetic.  Until I focused on this principle of crowding out, I never completely succeeded.  I struggled to change my diet and, more so, maintain the healthy diet.  I had to "white knuckle" it and try SO hard to not give in to cravings.  When I finally gave myself permission to focus on adding in the good instead of taking out the bad, wow, it was a miracle!  I was eventually able to rid myself of all my cravings.  Now I crave my green smoothie and salads.

Do yourself a favor and add one healthy food to your repertoire today!


Amy is amazing.  She is a wife, mother and friend.  After graduate school and having children, she attended the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

She is extremely knowledgeable and through the course of many years has taken on food.  You can read more by clicking on the button, Whole Foods, Whole Life on the right.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Keep it clean!

Having children is like having a daily tornado in my home. I am not quite sure how others' keep up with the mess. I am not a wonderful maid, never have and I figure I probably never will be, BUT there are a few things that I am {trying} to instill in my children:

1.) Everything has its place.
{Shoes belong in the closet, books in the shelves, clothes either HANGING up in the closet or
folded in the dresser, etc.}
2.) Make your bed. It does wonders to transform the look of your room. It doesn't take very
long and usually it pushes {me} to make sure the rest of the room is clean(er).
3.) LAUNDRY. Whew. This one is a doozy...and for our home, it SHOULDN'T be! We have a
centrally located laundry shoot. No more than 12 inches feet from the kids doors, BUT it
never seems to fail that it doesn't always make it there.

These aren't extremely hard things to do, but I think having consistency is a huge thing to make these things an everyday thing.

What are some things that you do?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Would you believe it?

I couldn't! #1? How cool and random is that. After putting in all of the comments (followers, fb, and blog posts) Kiera is the winner!!

Congrats Kiera...I'll get you the Gift Certificate as soon as possible!

Also, I have thought about many more giveaways and I can't wait for them. I'll try for one in a few weeks..maybe have at least 1 a month. But this next one? I'm sorta really excited about it!

Stay tuned for more details.

Until then, PLEASE continue to get the word out. I appreciate you all so very much and am excited for the help and contributions!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Edible Playdough

Peanut Butter Playdough
2 C. Peanut Butter
6 TB. honey
Nonfat dry milk or milk plus flour
Cocoa or carob for chocolate flavor (opt)
Edible treats for decoration (sprinkles, etc)

Combine all the ingredients and mix, adding enough dry milk or milk/flour mixture to reach the right consistency of bread dough.
Add the cocoa. Then shape, decorate...and EAT!

This next one isn't necessarily edible, BUT it won't hurt your child if they do taste it!

Oatmeal Playdough:
1 part flour
1 part water
2 parts oatmeal

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; mix well and knead until smooth. Store covered in the refrigerator. *Will not last as long as cooked playdough*
WOOT!! I was featured: http://thislittlepiggybank.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-works-for-katie.html


If you want to be entered to get the JcPenney Certificate, you need to leave a comment, NOT just be a follower. (although this will get you additional entries!!)

2 Days left..GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cary over at, thislittlepiggybank, has some great ideas on how to save money. If you have any ideas, send them her way! You may be featured!

Important info binder

I'm not sure I would call this a craft, BUT it is such a good idea and great in an emergency!
Nikki was nice enough to let me link to her Important Information Binder.
Let me know what you think!
I have something GREAT to share...my 5 year old is eating! And not just candy or plain pasta or meat. He ate pizza (with marinara sauce) and spaghetti...wow. He must be growing up.
In other news: Mac has cut back on his food intake. He used to eat ev.er.y.single.thing. Seriously. Now? He is almost 2 and it is taking every ounce of my patience to have him eat anything. And not only that, but he is a chipmunk! He stores things in his cheeks and

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good alternatives to the expensive stores

I have long-loved Gymboree and Gap. They have some adorable and cute clothes, but sometimes their prices can be a bit overwhelming. And let me speak from experience..my kids grow too fast to have them always in such high-end things. {p.s. I love outlets!}

Here are some other options for kids:

Walmart: Not going to lie here. I have found some GREAT clothes for the kids here. They aren't the highest-quality, but they definitely work for my boys. We got Spencer some muscle shirts here this weekend. Great way to start the summer! :) If your kids are going to be romping around in the mud and dirt, why not?
Target: Love their clothes. We start here when school starts. They usually have some cute clothes and of course their prices can't be beat.
Crazy8: WE LOVE THIS STORE. It is part of the Gymboree/JANIE and JACK Family, but at a much lower price point. We got our Easter outfits here...and the price was perfect!
Old Navy: We have found that the little kids' clothes are cuter/more modest than the older kids, BUT that doesn't mean that we can't modify them. Good price point.

And as always, department stores haves some great clothes for the kids at not-too-horrible prices:

Get the word out!

I am doing a quick give-away to get this blog moving!

I'm giving away a coupon to JCPenney Portraits. (It is for 2 Free Traditional Portrait Sheets. Free sitting fee. It expires 12/31/2011.) SERIOUSLY, who doesn't like free?!!

Plus, even if you enjoy taking pictures of your kids...take the day off, let someone else do it..and stay out of the RAIN and crazy weather!

Ways to get enter:
1.) Comment on m-how.blogspot.com
Leave a comment with ideas to add to the blog or if you would like to contribute.
Don't forget to include your email address.

Additional Entries:
-FACEBOOK: share the website and link
-Blog about it: Again, say what you think and what you would contribute to the blog. (Don't forget to include a link to your blog)
-BECOME a follower: it's quick, easy and on the right hand side....go ahead. click.

This ends: May 20th, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern
Happy Blogging!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Put your toddler in the tub without water. Spray a bunch of shaving gel around the tub and mix it a bit, so it foams up. Give them a paint brush...and have them go to town!


Crafts always seem daunting to me. It scares me to open up the paint with our wee one. The older kids are ok, but an almost 2 year old. No thank you.

BUT there are a few things that you can do:

-Strip them down to nothing but diaper.
-Washable EVERYTHING: Markers, crayons, paint, etc

-Buy cheap wooden crafts at Wal-Mart. You can buy most of them for less than $5 dollars. And a lot of them are only $0.97.

Kitchen Space

Create a spot in the kitchen just for them!

We have a cupboard that is just for Mac. It has plastic cups and plates...and he loves it!

Toddler Days

Sometimes it can be hard to come up with things to do..with your toddler. I know, I know I could just let him run around the house making crazy HUGE messes (oh wait, he already does that!) or I could come up with some things to do...

Idea #1: Squishy Bag
I put a few Tablespoons of cornstarch into the bag and then added some water. Not much, just enough that it makes it moist. A few drops of your favorite food coloring and wah-la!

*He loved it! Would've played with it more...if he hadn't gone down for a nap.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Styled by night

Jenna, over at, Styled by Night, was gracious enough to provide us with some essentials to be a bit more stylish...and modest!

Here is a great post:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Easy Fajitas

6 TBS. Italian dressing

Chicken breast, cut in to strips

Bell peppers, cut in to strips

Red onion, cut in to strips



Cook Chicken, season with salt and pepper, etc.  Add a 1TBS of Italian dressing to coat.  Move chicken to a bowl.  Add your veggies and add more Italian.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken back in and warm. 

Place on warmed tortillas.  Add your favorite topping:  sour cream, olives, cheese, salsa.


1 ½ lbs. Flank steak, (opt. cut into 4-6 pieces, but I left it in one big piece)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced (I added red & yellow peppers also) **
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
¾ - 1 tsp. salt
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
Flour tortillas
Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa
Place steak in a crocopot; top with onion. Then add green pepper, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and diced tomatoes. Cover and cook on HIGH 4-5 hours or on LOW 7 hours. Remove meat, and shred with 2 forks. Serve on tortillas and desired toppings.
**I might keep the peppers out until about an hour or so of serving. They were fantastic, BUT were a little TOO well done and almost mushy. This could also be because I cooked it overnight! ;)
Extra tidbits:
Good heavens this was good! Honestly, you won't go back to your other fajitas. And I really bought the flank steak, expensive, but worth every single penny!

French Dip

3.5-4lbs. Boneless/Sirloin Chuck Roast **See below**
1/2 C. Soy Sauce
1 bay leaf
3-4 Peppercorns (which I don't have, so I omitted--oops!)
1 tsp. dried Rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. garlic powder
Roll buns (you know, the kind that soaks up TONS of juice..yum!)
Place in a crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Extra tidbit:
**I have actually made a pot roast on Sunday and saved the meat for this the next day...I just rewarmed and maybe even "rinsed" the meat if I used completely different types of seasoning.



4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (Seasoned!! Salt, Pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt, etc)
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 green onions, chopped
2 T. lemon juice
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. black pepper
1 lb. Pepper jack cheese, shredded (or any cheese you have in the house...pepper jack IS the best for this recipe)
8-10 tortillas
Sour cream
Aluminum Foil
1. In a small bowl combine beans, green onions, lemon juice, cumin, and ½ tsp. salt. Mix well.
2. In another separate bowl place cooked and shredded chicken, chili powder, pepper, and remaining ½ tsp. salt. Mix that well.
3. On tortillas, place grated cheese in a line near one edge of each tortilla. Top cheese with black bean salsa and then with the chicken mixture.
4. Roll up burritos and wrap each one separately in foil and place in a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese melts. Top your tortilla with sour cream and salsa.
Extra Tidbit:
We LOVE these! We have fed many-a-people with these and they have all enjoyed them.
We serve it with a green salad AND Spanish Rice.

Dinnertime Quesadillas

2 c. shredded cooked chicken (after shredding-add salt, pepper, and other seasoning i.e.: onion
powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt to taste)
½ c. drained canned whole kernel corn
½ cup sliced green onions, opt.
½ c. drained canned black beans, rinsed
1 c. salsa
1 c. Mexican style shredded four cheeses
8 flour tortillas
1-2 tsp. RANCH DRESSING (add more to taste)
Layer chicken, corn, onions, beans, salsa, cheese and a squeeze of ranch over half (ONLY HALF) of each tortilla.
Fold tortillas in half to close filling.
Cook one quesadilla at a time in large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat about 3
minutes on each side or until quesadillas are lightly browned on both sides and cheese is melted.
Extra tidbit:
**Don’t throw away leftover chicken, beans or corn!! Use it on a salad—Southwestern style! Eat with a mixture of ranch and salsa for dressing—YUM!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Photog 101

Supplies:  Camera, camera manual

You can get good pictures with any camera.  Of course it's easier to get good pictures with a good camera, but I have seen beautiful photos from a point and shoot, and very poor ones from a high end DSLR.  The biggest key is to know how your camera works.  Most people have never even opened their manual.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  You can not expect to get the most out of your camera be it small or big if you don't know how it works and what every one of those icons means.  Photography can be overwhelming, but if you start by learning the basics about your camera, it will be much easier to understand.

How does a camera work?
Inside that magical little box of yours is an intricate, complex puzzle that's surprisingly easy to understand once you learn.  Photo means light in greek- and that's really all our pictures are= a replica of light.  In the olden days, when you pushed down the button, your camera shutter (the little doors on front) snapped open for a split second and exposed chemically treated material (film) to light.  The amount and wavelengths that reached the film determined how the chemicals reacted, creating a replica of the light it was exposed to.  Your digital camera works similarly.  When the shutters on your lens open, they expose a sensor to those same wavelengths the film used to get.  The sensor duplicates the light into a series of tiny dots called pixels.  Millions of these create the picture that almost instantaneously pops up on your LCD.  Brilliant!

What are the differences between cameras?
Your average camera is a point and shoot.  These are the compact cameras most people own.  They run from under $100 to around $400.  Most allow only minimal setting changes and are perfect for people who don't want a complicated, bulky machine.  Different brands and models heavily vary in their quality and options.  What options does yours have?  READ YOUR MANUAL.

With heavy price drops and more introductory models made in the last decade, you will now see a lot of people running around with DSLR cameras.  This means digital single-lens reflect camera.  If that just flew over your head, a very quick explanation is this:  when you look in the viewfinder of a point and shoot camera, you are looking through glass, and the lens is actually right below.  An SLR uses mirrors like a periscope so that what you see in your viewfinder is exactly what is seen through the lens.  While that's nice, the real pull to SLRs is that they have interchangeable lenses, and what attracted me the most, faster shutter speeds and a considerably higher quality sensor.  Higher quality sensor= higher quality raw image.  But for the cons, they are big, bulky, expensive and complicated if you choose to leave auto mode.  Do you own an SLR and struggle with what all those settings on the dial mean? (Hint:  READ YOUR MANUAL)

What should I look for in a new camera?
If you want to upgrade your camera, you need to know a few things to consider.  The budget nazi in me says price first and foremost, but since this is a photography post, let's pretend money isn't an issue.  
1.  Consider your needs.  Do you rarely use your camera?  Does the thought of changing settings make you shudder?  Or are you already very comfortable with camera settings and wanting more?  Do you need something small or is size not an issue?  What do you photograph the most?  What kind of lighting do you normal shoot in?  The need for shooting in low lighting, or faster shutter speeds for sports or squirmy children might lead you to a DSLR.  But if if has to fit in your pocket and you refuse to mess with any buttons other than the shutter, then don't buy one just because your friends all did.

2.  Please, please, please with a cherry on top don't think that higher mega pixels = better pictures because I might just have to come through the computer and slap some sense into you.  The sensor in your camera is what is most important.  As the race continues to get the highest mega pixels possible in a pocket sized camera, the sensor quality goes by the wayside.  The only thing a cheap 20 mega pixel camera is going to do is allow you to blow your picture up poster size . . . and the picture quality will be so poor it will look like you blew up a picture taken by your cell phone.  My last point and shoot was so poor, that its 7.1mp looked considerably worse than my mom's 3.1mp at any size.  Sensor quality is everything, got it?  You can check this by reading reviews with caution, looking up technical aspects of the camera, and by bringing a compatible SD card so you can take images shot in the store home to take a closer look.  A good store will allow you to move around.  The Best Buy associate let me take the camera in a back room so I could test the flash and quality of a low light pictures.

3.  One that most people miss when considering a new camera is battery life.  If your camera sucks batteries dry, you will want to invest in rechargables and a charger. Or that may deter your from buying that particular model (I use my camera so often, I would stay far, far away from battery drainers).  

There's so much more I could cover, but it will all have to wait for a later post. (stay tuned for manual settings, accessories, and post editing).  Until then, here's your homework:

A.  Read your manual.  I'm not kidding.  Right now!  (I really can't help you anymore until you do)
B.  Don't just be a spectator in your learning, have your camera handy as you read to look, touch, and try out.



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