Bulk Cooking – Spicy Ground Beef

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The Heat Wave is back on here in New England!

Whenever the weather channel predicts high temperatures coupled with humidity, I like to prepare in advance by bulk cooking, especially meat. (Sometimes this is also called Freezer cooking, but I never freeze cooked meat. After it’s been frozen, cooked, and then re-thawed, it’s usually dry. Yuck!)

On Monday evening, I pulled out some free ground beef and got to work, cooking enough to last for several meals. This not only saves time, but also money—using the oven/stove once, washing the dishes once, chopping, etc.

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When bulk cooking, it helps to make a meat that’s extremely versatile, like this recipe for Spicy Ground Beef. To bulk cook meat, I simply brown ground beef on the stove, with garlic, onions and peppers. (I’m still trying to use up all the Bird’s Eye freebies!) Salt is a must, and I added a lone tomato, too, because it was in the kitchen. If you need to stretch it, some black beans will do wonders!

Spicy Ground Beef makes a great base for many other meals. Try any of these:

* Taco Salad

* Chili

* Sloppy Joes

* Burritos

* Pot Pies

* Nachos

* Sliders

* Filling for Stuffed Cabbage

* Beef Vegetable Soup

* Stuffed Peppers

* Goulash

* Mexican Lasagna

* Dirty Rice

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I love having a fridge full of cooked food, especially when I’m too tired to make dinner. By planning ahead, I have saved tons of dollars and calories that would’ve been wasted on fast food!

$2.00 Starbucks Grande Iced Drink!

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Starting today, Starbucks is offering $2.00 Grande iced drinks.

Make a purchase at Starbucks in the morning, then bring in your “Treat Receipt” after 2:00 PM and get a Grande iced drink for just $2.00. (Must be same day; receipts don’t carry over.) This deal is good until August 10, so repeat as your heart desires.

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To further maximize your savings, join My Starbucks Rewards and start earning stars. You get a star for every purchase made in store and specially marked Starbucks products sold at grocery stores.  Plus, you’ll get a free drink on your birthday. I don’t, however, recommend getting this record setting $54 freebie!

Thoughts On Cross-Cultural Marriage

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This Guest Post was written by Berenice, from A Very Berry Life. Berenice and I connected through Blogelina. I was initially intrigued by her lovely DIY section. As I continued to read through her fantastic blog, I learned that she was in a cross-cultural marriage. Since many of my readers are in Interfaith families, I think her story will be inspirational!

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Thoughts on cross-cultural marriage

As a kid, I sometimes used to wonder about my parents marriage. My dad is from the central/northern region of Mexico and my mother is from the deep south. Mexico is huge and there are lots and lots of different people and cultures. How could two completely different people from completely different backgrounds come together, and more importantly, how they did stay together…

Now people ask me the same question: I’m a Mexican woman, living in Germany, married to a German-Romanian guy. How do we overcome the difference in language, culture, traditions, etc.?

Well, let me start by telling you a little bit about us:

The first time I came to Germany, I was 7 years old. We stayed for 2 years, and when we returned back to Mexico, I was enrolled in German school. I do not see myself as Mexican, nor German, but as a mixture of both. There are things I like about the Mexican and German cultures, and other things I don’t like.

My husband was born in Romania and moved to Germany when he was about 6 years old. His family is part Romanian and part German, so he also has a somewhat wider perception of who he is and where he comes from.

Since we both grew up multi-lingual, we communicate in whatever language fits the moment. Sometimes I forget words in Spanish, so I say them in German, or English. He also speaks Spanish (which is very convenient), and we both know a little bit of Japanese.

There have been times when we use 3 different languages in a single sentence, like: “Can you pass me la sal, bitte?” It may be very confusing for others, but for us, it’s just our daily life!

In my opinion, that would be 1 of 3 key aspects for making a partnership work: communication! The other two being respect and compromise!

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Be aware that your spouse cannot read your mind! That he, or she, did not grow up with the same traditions. Communicate! Tell your significant other what is important for you. We don’t always have to understand everything, but respecting our partner’s point of view is very important. Don’t try to degrade its significance just because you don’t understand it; try to have an open mind. And, after all that communication and acceptance is done, compromise on the best way to achieve it.

For example: when my husband and I first moved in together, I told him about the Mexican tradition of Día de Muertos (the Day of the Dead) in which we set up an altar with food, flowers and water as homage to our dead relatives.

I didn’t expect him to be excited about it, or even fully perceive its meaning, but he understood that it was important for me. We compromised by setting up a small altar and even included his dead relatives in it.

I do believe that is the beauty of marriage in general. Getting to learn more about the person you love each and  every day, expanding your horizons, recognizing that we are all different, and learning to be more tolerant towards each other as we create new traditions together as a family.

 

Thank you so much, Berenice, for sharing your unique perspective and insight on cross-cultural marriages! I couldn’t agree with you more. If you enjoyed this guest post like I did, stop by A Very Berry Life and let her know.

The Ideal Wardrobe – Jeans

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How many pairs of jeans do you own? Probably a bunch. How many do you actually like and wear? Probably only a few! Good jeans sure can be hard to find. I’ve been on a lifelong quest for the perfect pair!

It all started when I was growing up in the 80′s and 90′s. Designer jeans were all the rage. Every young girl was dreaming of her own pair of Guess, Jordache,or Calvins. (Seriously, who didn’t want to be Brooke Shields?) Back then, it was more about logo than substance, but we didn’t care. I got my first designer jeans when I was 8, courtesy of Lord & Taylor.

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Sometime around the year 2000, the jean market started to shift. It became less celebrity-based, with a focus on fit and function. Happily, prices have dropped, too, and there is a huge range of options for all budgets.

When buying jeans we need to take 4 areas into account: fit, length, rinse, and rise. (For additional details, check out my guide to pants, where I discuss this in depth.)

Fit:  Jeans should be purchased snug. Not skin tight, but snug, because they do stretch over time. When you try them on, sit and walk in them. Get a feel for the fabric on your body. If they’re not comfortable when you try them on, don’t buy! You may have to try numerous sizes and brands before you find the right pair. When you do find them, I recommend buying extra.

Rinse:  The rinse refers to the color, as in light rinse or dark. The lighter the rinse, the heavier you will look and vice versa. The only exception to this rule is white jeans. Dark rinse jeans should be washed inside-out, preferably in cold water and air dried.

Length:  Good jeans come in every inseam, but it’s always hardest to find the right pair of Petite or Tall. I am a Petite and I’ve had good luck with jeans from Old Navy and Banana Republic. (Check out their Factory Store for the same styles at cheaper prices!) For Tall ladies, I’ve heard raves about Gap’s Long and Lean jeans.

Rise:  A mid-rise jean will be the most flattering. Avoid the extremes of high and low-rise. Too high looks frumpy and too low is an accident waiting to happen!

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Most flattering:

The most flattering pair is a straight leg with a dark rinse. Sometimes they’re also called Trouser Jeans. They are slimming and reasonably comfortable. Every single body type looks good in these, especially Plus Size!

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Least flattering:

The least flattering is a high-waist, large pocket jean, evidenced by this god-awful picture of Jessica Simpson. Notice how the proportions look off; everything is magnified and she seems much larger than she actually was at the time. As if these jeans weren’t bad enough, she paired them with one of my biggest accessory no-no’s—an animal print belt.

Women's The Diva Boot-Cut Jeans - Rinse

* Boot Cut  – I have a pair of Old Navy Diva Boot Cut jeans that I bought on clearance for $1.47 at an after-holiday sale. They’re one of my favorites and get plenty of use. Boot Cut is good for most, except those that have very thick legs, because Boot Cut is slim in the thigh.

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*Boyfriend  - These are the most comfortable pair of jeans, ever. Because they tend to be loose and slouchy, this is not a dress-up jean and should be reserved for casual occasions—errands, travel, lounging, etc. Reese Witherspoon is photographed in boyfriend jeans a lot and always looks cute.

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* Skinnies  - Skinnies can be adorable when done the right way. Yes, this is a super-snug fit, but that doesn’t mean straight jacket. You should still be able to move and breathe! Balance skinnies with a long top, that’s preferably loose-fitting. Don’t ever wear skinnies with a tank top, halter top, or tight sweater unless you want to be Paris Hilton’s Double Mint twin.

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* White  - My favorite bottom to wear in the summer, especially when paired with a black top! If you’re hesitant to try white bottoms, jeans will be easier than pants. They’re thicker and less see-through, so it’s not as scary. The only white jeans I avoid are skinnies. That’s way more attention than I can handle….

Jeans to avoid include:

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* Whiskers  –  This refers to fade lines that run across the hips and crotch. Whiskers tend to highlight the widest part of the leg, which most ladies are trying to avoid.

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* Lewd  – I’m not sure what this monstrosity is trying to accomplish…all I can say is don’t go there. This reminds me of a ’90′s reject, wearing super-low jeans with a thong peeking out. Sisqo isn’t calling; give it up!

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* Large Rear Pockets -  Rear pocket placement must be taken into account. Small and/or angled pockets will make your behind look much better. Stay away from large, flap pockets, especially those with rivets or buttons. Embroidery and embellishment should also be avoided.

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* Acid Wash  - I was surprised to see these featured in the August edition of People StyleWatch. According to model Kate Upton, “They’re coming back, which is fun.” No, it’s horrifying! They were bad in the 80′s, they’re bad now, and they forever will be.

 

What’s your favorite style of jeans?