Friday, May 29, 2009

~Green Beans~

Summer is coming, and with summer comes fresh green beans! I love green beans, especially when they are super fresh! You can usually find them in your grocery store if you don't have a garden or farmer's market to get them.

Here are two of my favorite recipes using fresh green beans:

Easy Stir-Fried Beef and Chinese Green Beans
from 7 Day Cookbook

1/2 pound flank or sirloin steak, sliced thinly across the grain into strips about 1 1/2 to 2-inches long
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound Chinese long beans or regular green beans, cut into 2-inch
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Combine the beef, 1 tablespoon oil, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch and set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat. Add beans and stir-fry for a few moments. Add salt to taste and water. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until crisp tender about 3 minutes. Remove the beans to a heated serving platter and keep warm by covering with foil.

Heat the pan on high heat and add the beef. Stir-fry the beef letting it brown on one side before turning. Cover and cook 1 1/2 minutes. Spoon out of pan on top of beans. Serve with rice.

Yield: 4 servings

Garlic String Beans
from Fit for Life

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen string beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, seasoned salt, or salt-free seasoning
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups water
2 teaspoons vegetable broth or 1 vegetable bouillon
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

In large heavy saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic and beans, and saute over high heat to sear beans, stirring frequently so they do not burn. Add seasonings, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until beans are tender when pierced with tip of sharp knife. Add more water, if necessary. Frozen beans will take half the time. Add squeeze of lemon juice, and toss well.

I have added small pieces of mushrooms to both recipes, and it adds a nice flavor as well!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

~Clipping Coupons~

I have been clipping coupons for a few weeks now, and have found that it is something I really enjoy!

I am learning so much about couponing! And I've even gotten a few free things since I started! The two main places that I'm gathering information are at Money Saving Mom and Hot Coupon World.

My goals in couponing are:
:::to save money on our grocery bill
:::to use coupons on products I need and would be purchasing anyhow

There were several things that kept me from trying coupons: the cost of subscribing to the paper, the amount of time I knew it would take, the temptations of buying things I didn't normally use, and seeing how (in my eyes) some couponers were "hoarders".

Cost: I subscribed to the paper on Sunday only - the savings I make with the coupons is more than the cost of the paper. Some Sunday afternoons, I have enough time to look through the paper and actually read a few articles, which has been enjoyable. I always make time for the funnies. ;-) I am only getting one paper. Some couponers get multiple copies of the paper, but I want to keep it simple!

Time: It really doesn't take me too much extra time to use coupons - perhaps an extra hour or two per week. I clip the coupons and file them away. On Monday I look through the grocery ad and match up sale items to coupons I have. There are also bloggers who match these up as well so I scan over several lists online to see if there are any I missed. Then I make my list and off to the store I go! At this point, I am only going to one store. There are several stores I could shop at, but I'm sticking to the convenience of just one store for all my groceries.

Temptations: I have bought a few things that were outside my normal range of grocery shopping. But I try to only clip the coupons that I *should* be using, and the rest go out to the curb for recycling.

Hoarding: I am determined to only buy what I know our family will use, so this isn't really that much of a problem for me. For instance, I use perhaps two large bottles of shampoo per year, so there is no need for me to have 20 bottles of shampoo under my bathroom sink! However, we do use peanut butter, and the brand I buy is normally $3.09 a jar. When it went on sale, I was able to combine coupons with store coupons and buy six jars for $7. Now that was a great bargain! I know that eventually we'll use that peanut butter, and it saved me a lot of money to stock up! I use cleaners sparingly, so I know that I have no need of 10 bottles of toilet cleaner! However, it makes sense to have 10 bottles of dish washing soap in the cupboard, because I know I will use about that much in a year's time.

Here is how I organized my coupons, (using the method Crystal explains at Money Saving Mom):

I did have to cut about 1/4" off the edge of the 3 x 5 card so that the lid could close. This system is working well for me right now, and I can take the whole box into the store in case there are unadvertised sales on items I have coupons for.

Here is the box with the lid closed:

My conclusion is that couponing is something I will continue to do! It has saved me quite a bit of money already, and I am still learning the "ins and outs" of the process!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

~Pink Dress~

When I was overdue, and quite sick with a cough, I convinced myself that a complicated sewing project would be just the ticket to take my mind off my worries. Well, it did for a little bit, and then I set it aside. I finally finished it last Saturday, in time for The Baby to wear it to church this Sunday. Thankfully it still fits!

I used Simplicity 2900, size XS. I made the dress, View A; and the slip, View B:

I used a sheer fabric for the dress, and kept it simple with no lace on the collar or sleeves, and no embroidery as the pattern shows.

All those little tucks took a lot of work! There are also pleats at the armhole seam, which makes the dress fit very well.

This is the closest I've come to "heirloom" sewing. The pattern didn't call for it, but the fabric easily frayed, so I used french seams and bound the armhole seams. I do have a serger, but I thought that the french seams would look neater.

I made the slip out of 100% white cotton. The pattern calls for flat lace around the neck, armholes, and hem. I used pre-gathered lace around the hem, and just bound the seams around the arms and neck. Instead of cutting out facings (on the bias) for the neck and armhole edges, I simply used bias tape. It worked well since it already had a folded edge. I also left off the embroidery, since I didn't want it showing through the dress.

Pardon the wrinkliness of the slip; as I mentioned it is 100% cotton (from my fabric bin, I think it is actually muslin, which probably isn't the best choice of fabric. Oh well!)

I enjoyed making this little outfit. Besides aprons, I haven't used any of the vintage patterns, so this was fun. My next project will be much simpler, and hopefully it won't take me 2 1/2 months to complete! :-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

~Hello, hello!~

I'm back to blogging now! I plan on being a regular blogger, instead of randomly posting every three weeks or so! ;-)

I am so glad that I decided to take a little break from blogging. It gave me some time to think about if I really wanted to continue blogging. As I was sewing one day, and formulating a post in my mind, I realized that yes, I wanted to continue blogging!

So here I am!