Monday, June 27, 2011

Meatless Monday -- Black Bean Lasagna

Years ago, my good friend Michelle made this hearty Mexican-flavored lasagna for me, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. Even your most dedicated carnivores will love it! It reheats well, and in my opinion tastes even better then next day!

         Black Bean Lasagna

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 can chopped green chilies
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 c. chopped fresh tomatoes
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. fat-free sour cream
8 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
Large bottle thick and chunky salsa
12 Oven-Ready, No Boil Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
Non-stick cooking spray

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sautee the onion and garlic for a couple minutes, then add the beans, green chilies, red pepper, tomatoes, cumin, and coriander, and simmer for ~15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set bean mixture aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray lasagna pan with cooking spray. Spread 2 to 4 Tbsp salsa in bottom of pan. Layer four lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping. Spread 1/2 bean mixture over noodles, and top with enough salsa to spread an even layer and 1/2 of the sour cream. Top sour cream with 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Repeat noodle layer, bean mixture, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. Finish with one more layer of noodles, salsa, and remaining cheese. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is browned on top (~7 to 10 minutes). Let stand 10 minutes before serving (If you don't it will be OK, just liquidy). Enjoy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wild8Designs Hair Clip Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Wild8Designs Giveaway is Rebecca Bode from Grand Terrace, CA.  Congratulations, Rebecca, I will get your prize in the mail to you tomorrow!  Rebecca won these adorable hair bows from Wild8Designs:
For the rest of you, you can still get these and other cute hair clips directly from Wild8Designs.  Their barrettes are so affordable with most costing only $2-$3 each!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

DIY: 4th of July Table Runner

This month the project for my sewing group was a table runner using this tutorial: Quilted Table Runner Tutorial. With the forth of July coming up, I decided on a patriotic theme for mine.  This was my first attempt at anything quilted, and I love the way it turned out!  
It's 6 feet long by 15 inches wide and goes perfectly on our bar. 
This is what the opposite end looks like.
I love how bright and festive it is . . .  almost makes me want to have a party, almost.

It's reversible with a more understated flip-side.
When I first read the tutorial, I was a little confused about how it would all come together since it has you sewing through the top layer, the batting, and the bottom layer all at once while piecing the strips of fabric together, but when you start in the middle and keep matching right side to right side and sewing up the edge closest to the end of the runner you are working toward it turns to be quite easy.

There was a lot of cutting in this project and I would not even have attempted it without my Gingher Rotary Cutter!  I love that thing!  Even so it still took me over two hours to cut all my material.  I think like chefs have a prep cook, I need a prep cutter!

With 14 feet of binding going on this table runner, there was no way I was going to hand sew it, so I got lots of practice machine sewing bias tape, and creating square corners (versus rounded, which I think might be a little easier.).  I ended up creating a tutorial for sewing bias too: How to Machine Sew Bias Tape.

Total Cost: $29 -- I bought every thing at Jo-Ann's either on sale or with a coupon and I have tons of material and thread left over.  I am planning to make a dress for one of my girls and a rag wreath with the leftovers.

Time to Complete: 7 hours

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DIY: How to Machine Sew Bias Tape

When I made my 4th of July Table Runner, I searched for a good tutorial for how to use my sewing machine to bind the edges using bias tape and leaving the edges square, but I really didn't come across a tutorial that covered it all, and I had to piece the information together from multiple sources and modify it to fit my project. Here's what I figured out:

Before applying your bias tape, cut away any extra seam allowances, thread, or jagged edges you may have.  You need a nice smooth edge to start.  I used my Gingher Rotary Cutter, cutting mat and ruler to get a  nice straight, clean edge.  I love Gingher products!  I would not have even attempted this project without my rotary cutter.  It's like a pizza cutter on steroids!
Make sure the raw edge of your project is neat and straight.
Take your bias tape out of the package and decide which side is wider, One side of your tape will be just barely wider than the other. The wider side of the tape will fold over onto the back or "wrong" side of your project. In my case, my table runner is reversible, so there is no wrong side. I decided to pin to the lighter side of my fabric, so if I sewed over the edge of the bias tape and into the table runner on the opposite darker side, the red thread would blend in with all the crazy patriotic material on the underside. If your project is not square, you should start with the longer sides first.
I used 1/2" Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape.

With your bias tape unfolded, pin it with the narrower side facing your edge on the "right" side of your fabric.  Align the bias tape up with the very edge of your fabric. Leave about 1/2" of bias tape hanging over the end of the fabric. You will fold this in to create the squared off corner. Pin the bias tape to your fabric on second fold from the edge.  With the bias tape still unfolded, you will sew a seam straight down the first fold. This seam will not be visible on your final project.
Your bias tape will fold itself back up after you pin it, so you will need to use your hands to open it up as you feed it through your sewing machine.
This is what your folded in corner should;d look like before you sew.
Now, wrap your bias tape around the edge of your fabric.  Fold the 1/2 inch of bias tape that you left hanging over the edge of the fabric at each end in, so it looks like the photo above.  Iron or pin the folded corners as needed to hold them in place so you can sew them.  You may still be able to see your a tiny bit of your fabric in the edge of the fold. That is okay, because the bias tape going on the short side will cover it.  
Start at your folded corner and stitch through all layers of your project
(front of bias tape, project material, back of bias tape).
Now, sewing on the same side of your material as you already stitched the bias tape to and starting at your folded corner, sew the binding within an 1/8th of an inch or less of its open edge. Be sure to add a few reverse stitches to secure the edge of your bias tape at the corner, then sew all the way to the other end of you fabric using a straight stitch.  Finish with a few reverse, then a few forward stitches. Stay as close to the edge of the bias tape as you can without sewing over onto your fabric. As you feed your project through the machine, use your hands to keep the bias tape smoothly wrapped over the edge of your unfinished material.  The bias tape has to stay snug against your unfinished edge in order for you to catch the underside of the tape, Remember, that the bias tape on the other side of your material is just slightly wider than the side you are sewing on but just barely, so you really need to stay close to the edge of your bias tape when sewing.  
Use your hand to make sure the bias tape is right against the edge of your unfinished edge on  both the top and bottom and feeding through the machine smoothly.
*If you discover after you have sewn on your bias tape that you have missed a spot on the opposite side of your bias tape. You can flip your material over and sew second seam up the bias tape on the "wrong" side. Do not sew closer than 1/16 of an inch from the inner edge of the bias tape. Repeat this procedure on your other long side (or if you have a square, the side parallel to one you just completed.) Then you can work on your shorter sides.  Your shorter sides will be done the same as your longer sides.
Neatly, fold your short side corners in and press or pin to hold them in place before sewing.  This will be your exposed corner and you should not have any fabric showing at the corner at this point. 
This is what your completed square-off bias tape corner will will look when you are done.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Burritos

This recipe is quick, delicious, and very versatile. There are many substitutions or add-ons that can boost flavor, add certain nutrients, or strip it down to an even healthier version. This meal should take about 20-25 minutes to prepare and cook and is simple to clean up after as everything is thrown into one skillet.
Vegetarian Burritos with a side of Vegetarian Refried Beans and Sour Cream

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Sweet Onion (Diced)
  • 1 Can of Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes (Slightly Drained)
  • 10 oz. Vegetable Crumbles (We used Morning Star Farms brand.)
  • 1 Pkg Taco Seasoning
  • 1/2 C Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese
  • Burrito Sized Tortillas
  • Sour Cream (Optional)
  • Guacamole (Optional)
  • Salsa (Optional)
  • Lettuce (Optional)
  • Tomato (Optional)

In a large skillet heat the oil. Add the onions to sauté for 3-5 minutes on medium to medium high heat. Stir in the canned tomatoes and continue to simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Stir in the Vegetable Crumbles and the taco seasoning. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 5 more minutes.

As this simmers, begin to warm the tortillas by first sprinkling with water and then placing them between two paper towels. Microwave the tortillas for 20-25 seconds. The tortillas should be very soft and pliable.

Add the cheese to the veggie mix and stir it in until melted. Spoon about 3/4 of a Cup of the mixture into the center of each tortilla. Fold the tortilla at both ends and then roll it closed. Garnish with Salsa, Sour Cream, Lettuce, and/or Tomatoes.

* Other options to add variety to this meal include stuffing the burritos with Spanish Rice and/or Refried or Black Beans along with the ingredients listed above.

** For a spicier flavor, use Zesty Jalapeno Diced Tomatoes, add Jalapenos to the veggie mixture, or add Tabasco.

*** You can really cut out some calories, fat, sodium and add nutrients by using: Reduced Fat Sour Cream; Reduced Fat Cheese; Reduced Sodium Taco Seasoning, and Whole Grain Tortillas.

Here's what the filling inside looks like right before you fold it up.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wild8Designs Hair Clip Giveaway

I'm so excited to host my first giveaway. I'm even more excited that the giveaway is of adorable summery barrettes and a headband from one of my favorite shops, Wild8Designs. Wild8Designs is run by 2 moms who have 4 kids each thus the wild8. They sell the cutest array of hair clips at super reasonable prices! One lucky winner will receive a strawberry, crabs and stars, cherries, a frilly white bow, and a patriotic butterfly all on partially lined alligator clips and a red, white and blue woven headband! You can enter here: Wild8Designs Hair Clip Giveaway Entry Form. Read on to learn how to get up to six chances to win.
Your little girl will look so sweet in these.

The butterfly can be worn on or off the headband for a variety of looks.

Strawberry and Cherry Barrettes made of Grosgrain Ribbon.  So Cute.

Perfect for summer!

How to Enter:
6 chances to win! You must complete the Entry Form to me be eligible to win: You will receive one chance to win for each of the following:
  1. Like Wild8Designs on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall telling them you've entered the giveaway at Counting on Me.
  2. Look through the photos of Wild8Designs products and leave me comment telling me which are your favorites.
  3. Share a link to this contest on your facebook wall with a comment letting your friends know which of the hair accessories in the giveaway is your favorite.
  4. Place an order with Wild8Designs and leave me a comment telling me what you got -- You can order by emailing Wild8Designs at
  5. Follow this blog using Google Friends Connect
  6. Like Counting on Me on Facebook. Leave a message on my wall letting me know you've entered the contest!
The contest will close on Friday, June 24th at noon EST. Good Luck!

Fill out this Entry Form to win!!!

I'm linking to:

Wild8Designs Hair Clip Giveaway Entry Form

You can find more details about this giveaway and how to enter here: Wild8Designs Giveaway Details
Contest Closes at noon EST, June 24, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

DIY: Father's Day Collage

This year the girls and I made The Count a Framed "Daddy" Collage for Father's Day! You don't have to be super crafty to do this and it makes a nice keepsake for dad. We did this all today, so you still have time before Sunday to make your own!

Here's what you need:
  1. Large Paper Mache Letters -- You just need one D, one A and one Y or just a D and an A for Dad or a P and an O for Pop-Pop -- I got mine from Jo-Ann's.
  2. Paint -- I started to used spray paint but it wasn't covering very nicely, so I switched and used acrylic. That's just what I had on hand. I'm sure poster paint would work just fine too.
  3. Digital Camera
  4. Smiling Children -- I had to bribe mine with fruit snacks and even then getting them to smile, hold up the letter, and look at the camera all at the same time was a bit of a challenge.
  5. Collage Frame with the appropriate amount of openings -- I couldn't find a frame with five openings in a straight line, so I went with the six and gave my kids a heart I cut out of card stock to hold for the last photo. I bougth my frame at Michael's don't forget to use your coupons for 40-50% off!
  6. 1 Piece of Card Stock in the same color as your paint
Here's what the letters look like before you paint them.
Copy heart into MS Word, enlarge, print and cut out.
  1. Paint your letters and let them dry.  
  2. Cut a Heart Out (if necessary) out of your card stock. I'm not the best free-hand drawer or cutter, so I enlarged this heart in a word document and printed it out  on my card stock first.  Then I cut it out. 
  3. Now you're ready for your photo shoot.  Take a few shots of each child holding each letter, so you can choose your favorites for the frame.  
  4. Get your chosen photos printed.  If you order through or, you can usually pick your photos up locally within an hour or so.  
  5. Add your photos to your frame and Voila!  You have a wonderful Home-made Father's Day Gift.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week in Review: Week 4

Will I ever get better? That is the question of the week. This sickness that I have keeps lingering. I went back to the doctor on Monday and got a second round of stronger antibiotics. Kaylicious seems to be coming down with the same thing now. I am surprised that she was able to stave it off for this long. She is also struggling with acid reflux again . . . my poor little girl. Please send some healthy thoughts our way. We need them.

We mostly did things at home to entertain ourselves this week so not to spread our germs to everyone else. On Saturday, Kaylicious graduated from her crib to a toddler bed and she seems to being doing quite well with it. Today, I went to the second meeting of my Chesapeake Mommies Sewing Group. We're working on this quilted table runner. I will share photos when it's finished.

Here's what I accomplished this week:
  • Unclutter and Organize My Entire Home
    • Organized My Thread and Ribbon
    • Started Working on My Laundry Room (AKA the room where everything that doesn't have a place gets thrown and I do mean thrown.)
  • Conquer the Laundry -- Wash, Dry and Put Away 250 Loads -- 4 more down/ 237 to
  • Load, Wash & Put Away 250 Loads of Dishes -- 3 more down/ 242 to go
  • Get Shelves to Organize and Corral the Girls' Toys -- 2 Shelves Purchased/ 1 Built So Far
  • Read 100 Different Books to Each of My Kids -- 2 more down/91 to go
    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
    • Curious George Goes to the Fire Station
  • Do 50 Craft Projects with the Kids 1 Down/49 to go
  • Do Everything On My Toddler Activity List (See List) 1 more down/90 to go
  • Lose 38 Pounds & Fit Comfortably Into a Size 8 -- I lost 8 pounds this week by drinking mostly water and trying to eat reasonable portions of whole foods -- Unfortunately, that only gets me back to my starting weight, because I spent the three previous weeks feeling sick and tired, so I didn't grocery shop and we ate out or got carry out a crazy amount of times. At least I feel like I am going in the right direction now.
  • Walk 300 Miles -- 1 more Down/296 to go
  • Go on 50 Dates With My Husband -- 1 More Down/46 to go
    • Playing Trivia With Friends at Magerks and Browsing at Barnes & Noble
  • Talk to a Friend or Family Member (not my immediate family) Everyday - Check!
  • Get Outside for 15 Minutes Minimum Each Day - Check!
  • Use Re-useable Bags/ Start Keeping Them in the Car -- Getting Better --Recycled 2 big bags full of plastic bags at Target and only got two new plastic bags this week

Ribbon and Thread Storage

I've been trying to figure out a good storage solution for both my ribbon and thread! for a while now.  Last night, I found came across this article Organization Week: Products to Organize Your Scrapbook Supplies via Pinterest and I ran right out to Target to get some 5-Tier Hangers.  They were $6.99 each and I bought two to corral my ever growing ribbon and string supply. I love how simple, organized and easy it is to see my supplies now!  Two birds, One Stone!  Easy Peasy!  I'm so happy with the result! I must note however, if you are storing only ribbon, you can only fit standard-sized ribbon spools on every other tier or they don't spin freely.

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 up           party!Tip Junkie handmade projectsSomewhat Simple

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