The Money Saving Power of Water

I always see those Dyson vacuum commercials on tv & drool.  Oh, how I would love a vacuum that never loses powerful suction!  Unfortunately, three to four hundred dollar vacuums are not in our budget.  So I'm stuck with my Wal-Mart special Bissell.  Now, don't get me wrong, for the price I paid for my Bissell it is really doing a great job.  It's a bagless vacuum, which is great because I don't have to continually buy new bags & I can see all the dirt it is pulling up out of my carpet.  Although disgusting, I do enjoy seeing what I vacuum up!
Like most inexpensive vacuums, over time mine has lost suction.  But I figured out a trick after dealing with years of low suction.  It all has to do with the filters.  Like many vacuums, my Bissell has reusable filters.  All I have to do is rinse them out in water & let them air dry.  I did this a few months back & voile, my vacuum had suction back like the day I bought it!  I was so impressed, &  happy I didn't have to go out & have to buy a bunch of new filters, or a new vacuum for that matter.  So, if your vacuum is feeling a little sluggish check the filters.  Chances are all you need to do is rinse them out & let them dry completely.  Your vacuum will be running like new again.

The Best Way to Make Flank Steak

I'm going to share a family recipe with you today.  It's my Mom's way of making flank steak & it is one of my favorite foods of all time.  Bonus, it's super duper easy!  Pair this steak with some good potatoes & fresh green beans & you'll be sure to have a meal that pleases.  Perfect for summer... or any time really.  Here's the how:
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
3 fresh sprigs of rosemary
4 garlic cloves pealed & smashed just until broken open
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
flank steak
Mix all ingredients together.  Place flank steak in a baking dish.  Pour marinade over the top of the steak.  Let it sit for 20 minutes, then flip steak over & allow to sit for another 20 minutes.  Place marinated steak on a  hot grill.  Cook for 5-7 minutes per side (depending on size of steak).  Remove from grill & rest for 5-10 minutes.  Cut across the grain (very important) at an angle in thin slices.  Enjoy!

Busy Week

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while.  See, I had family in town.  Family from really far away.  Family that I love dearly & see sparingly.  So I was a little preoccupied.
Actually, a lot preoccupied because my beautiful sis-in-law brought her new baby girl.  This was the first time I got to meet her (& smell her, I love baby smell).  So every spare moment I was sitting on the couch holding her.
Or taking pictures of her & her cute chubby cheeks.  Which left little time for blogging.
Plus the weather finally got warm up here in the mountains.
Which meant there was a lot of time spent outside swimming...
... & posing cute chubby cheek babies in ridiculously cute settings...
... & working.  My bro-in-law loves coming here so he can work ;)
& of course we squeezed in some horse riding.  Unfortunately my other bro-in-law (not pictured) took a horse ride the first day he was here & had an accident which resulted in five of his ribs being broken.  So his vacation was a bit dampened.
We also took a day trip to a nearby town for some fun shopping & a stop at the amazing candy store.
Cousins got to spend time with each other...
... & we topped it off with yet more cute pictures of the sweetest chubby cheeked baby around.
I promise to post some yummy recipes soon.

Here's To The Dads

Happy Father's Day to the most wonderful dads I know.
First to my wonderful husband, he is such an amazing dad!
And to the man that raised me & now better known now as Grandpa Buck.  (remind me why we're trying to bring back 80's fashion?!)
And to the man that raised Josh & is such a wonderful GRANDFATHER to our kiddos.
To these amazing dads & all the awesome men that provide for their families, protect & love their children, & honor the role of dad.   Happy Father's Day!

Budget Remodel

I'm sprucing up the kitchen in the old ranch house.
Our ranch house is actually an old stage coach station for a small mining town from the 1800's.
It has been owned by a couple different ranchers & moved up the valley twice.
So, here is the original state of the kitchen when my family bought the place.
Somewhere along the line (in the 1960/1970's I'm guessing) someone decided to paint the cupboards yellow (a step up from the fire engine red the use to be, I only know this because the insides are still red) & wallpaper the kitchen.
Looks like the lick-able wallpaper on Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (the old & best one, the one with Gene Wilder- irreplaceable).
I'm planning on spending $50 or less to make this place look a little cleaner & brighter.  I don't want to put too much into it because in the next 10 years my Mom is going to totally remodel it.  But for now we have white cupboards... a good step in the right direction.  I'll post the final look soon.

Caramelized Onion & Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Make a twist on the old classic cheeseburger & stuff it instead of top it.  It's so much more flavorful & the cheese melts perfectly.  You're grill will also be less messy & your guest will think your so gourmet... & that's what it's all about right, being gourmet!  Although there are many combinations of which to stuff burgers I like caramelized onions & a good sharp cheddar cheese the best.    (Share your burger stuffing combination ideas in the comments section below)  Here's the how...
Start by caramelizing one onion.  Make sure you slice it real thin.  I love caramelized onions, could eat them by the bowl full.  But I don't think my husband would appreciate that.
Cut you up some really good extra sharp cheddar cheese into thick slices/chunks.
A real cheese with lots of flavor, like Cougar Gold (made by the fine folks at Washington State University), makes these burgers taste outstanding.  This isn't some old processed cheese food, this is the real deal.  So make sure you get yourself a good sharp cheese.
Soak your bread in milk until thoroughly saturated & then add the meat & seasonings to make your patties out of.
Make hamburger patties into a bowl shape.
Add the onions & cheese (break the cheese into chunks so it melts evenly.
Cover the patty with a little meat lid & press edges together.
Throw on a hot grill & cook for 2-3 minutes per side depending on burger thickness & how you like it done.
Enjoy!  Y'all will be stuffed & every bite will be enjoyable.  Try different combinations with your burgers, this is such a fun way to make a summer staple.
2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion thinly sliced
8 ounces of sharp cheddar sliced into large pieces
2 slices bread
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
2 pounds of ground elk, beef, deer, squirrel... whatever floats your boat (F.Y.I: I don't eat squirrel)
1 pound ground sausage
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
Put bread slices in a bowl & pour milk over the top.  Set aside.
In saucepan melt butter.  Add onions & cook on medium heat stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile add all remaining ingredients except the cheese to the milk soaked bread.  Using your hands mix it all together until thoroughly incorporated.
Line a cookie sheet with tin foil & make desired size burger patty into a bowl shape.  Place desired amount of onions & cheese (crumble into bits for even melting) into the middle.  Top with a mini burger patty to enclose & press edges together so that onions & cheese are sealed up.  Repeat with remaining meat.
Place patties on a hot grill & cook for 2-3 minutes per side.  Serve immediately on some good hamburger buns & all the toppings & enjoy!

Stuff I Love... You Could Too (goodies giveaway)

Winner of the $15 in Avon products is
scrappy chicI fell in love this year with Japanese cherry blossom!!!! YUMMMMMY! (buck thinks so too!)
Congratulations!  Email me & we will coordinate your winnings.
*winners chosen by  

A friend of mine (& neighbor, because she only lives 25 miles away I call here a neighbor) started selling Avon.  I've never bought anything from Avon, or any other specialty beauty product company.  Truth is I can never afford the stuff.  So I always used Wal-Mart as my beauty product supplier.  But since she is a friend, & since she gave me a catalog, & since I consider that kind of stuff reading material (I try reading books, but reading time for myself always gets interrupted.  Point in case, I've been reading the same book for 6 months now... yeash!), & since at the end of the day I really need mindless activities to wind down with I browsed the catalog.  And ya know what, I actually could afford what was in there.  I've had my eye on some particular beauty products for years now, but have never been able to purchase them.  Well, with Avon that has changed... keep reading, you will have a chance to try it for yourself.
This is one of my favorite things in the world: face perfecter (a must with my freckly face).  I had a sample of this stuff from another place years ago.  I loved it so much, but never could afford it.  It takes the place of foundation in my life.  It makes your skin feel so smooth & look so soft & even.  It's also very lightweight, unlike most foundations.  On top of all that it is SPF 20, so no sun damage for you!
I love their mineral make-up products.  I've been using Bare Minerals powders, which I love, but they are expensive.  Avon's mineral powders work just as good as the pricey stuff, but cost a bundle less.  I suggest getting a powder in your shade (trust me, they have your color) and one in Transparent Glow.  You put this on on after the main powder & your skin will look lovely.
If you've ever bathed a child you know how quickly you go through body wash/soap.  Not because the child is so dirty, but because they have this inherent desire to pour out anything liquid.  Problem solved!  Avon has these great roll on soaps that are spill proof.   It's also easy to use so kiddos can wash themselves.  There are a ton of scents to choose from.  These are always on sale so keep an eye out & you'll get a good deal beyond their everyday afford-ability 
Out on the ranch we have hard well water.  It dries your skin out just looking at it.  I bought some of this lotion & problem solved.  This stuff is so thick that it will soften your hands up in no time.  It's a lot like Neutrogena's intense hand creme, and cost the same.  Only difference is you get three times as much for the same price, and it works just as well.  Also great for feet, knees, elbows or really dry & itchy skin.
Okay, last thing, because I really could keep going.  I adore this shave gelactually I've loved any of the Skin So Soft products I've purchased.  It stays put until you shave & leaves your skin feeling smooth & moisturized.  Plus, a little goes a long way, so it last forever.

I have loved everything that I've bought from Avon & have never been disappointed in price.  You can order online here and if you spend more than $30 shipping is free.  Don't want to spend $30, team up with a friend & do one order so you don't have to pay for shipping.  If you live in the Missoula area you can call my friend/neighbor & order directly through her (then you never have to pay shipping).  Email her at or call 406-360-5731 Look through the Avon line & promise you'll find something you adore.  We all deserve a little pampering now & then, it's just nice when it doesn't break the bank & you love it!

Since I now love Avon so much & I think everyone should be spoiled just a little bit I'm giving away $15 of your choice of Avon products.  
All you have to do to enter is tell me your favorite kind of smell in the comments section below (mine is pomegranate & new babies- just can't get enough of it).
Winner will be announced Sunday evening.

Crispy Oven Fries

These are perfect for the summer season.  They go with so many bbq dishes & are easy to make.  They also don't require a lot of time to whip up.  Which means more time to enjoy the sun & less time the oven has to heat up your house.  One of the best parts about this potato dish is that there is no peeling!  They also go great with homemade ranch.  These are a healthy version of a junk food favorite, but they don't skimp on taste.  So next time your making burgers & dogs accompany them with these tasty fries.  It's an unbeatable combo.
6 Russet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   Place baking sheet in the oven to preheat.  
Cut potatoes in half length wise.  Cut each half in half again.  Then cut into strips to make french fries.  In a bowl mix olive oil, garlic powder, and salt.  Toss potatoes in the oil mixture until well coated.  Remove baking sheet from the oven & immediately put potatoes on the baking sheet.  Return to oven & bake for 15 minutes. Flip fries over & continue to bake for another 15-25 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and crispy.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking sprinkle the fries with Parmesan cheese.  Remove from oven & sprinkle with more salt if desired.  Serve immediately.

Just for Laughs

A few years back for my birthday my husband got me a set of magnets with the sarcastic housewife theme.  I fell in love with them... and the whole concept of taking those wonderful illustrations from the 1950's & adding  captions to them, sarcastic captions to be exact.  I just think they are hilarious, so I posted some here for you today to make you giggle.  
(Sidenote: I am not a angst homemaker. I am not a suppressed housewife.  I love doing what I do.  But these things are so funny, and often have that glimpse of truth, which makes them even funnier.)