Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012 Deals n’ Steals Tally

Wow! My first month of couponing and freebies has come to an end. I have to admit, I concentrated a little more on freebies this month… though I did get a $2 off Tide coupon that I am super happy about!  I started keeping a weekly list of what I sign up for, and at the end of the month I will print it out and check off items as they arrive. There is a collapsible  fabric bag by the door to collect freebies as they come in, but I have not figured out what to do with them at the end of each month. This is what arrived this month, at zero cost to me.

This was all 100% FREE

To find out how I got all this for FREE, head over to Little Mom Saves (my sister blog) and read this post!
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Monday, January 30, 2012


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    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Crock Pot Molten Lava Cake

    Crock Pot Molten Lava Cake
    When I was younger, I worked for one of the church ladies, cleaning her house. She would make this on Sundays, for her husband. I could smell it cooking while I dusted and vaccumed, and once she invited me to have some…I HAD to have the recipe!
    Thank you, Phyllis! This has become a family favorite with MY family now, too. Plus, very few dishes to wash!
    Easy to make
    Cake Ingredients:
    2 C. Brown Sugar
    2 C. All-purpose Flour
    6 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
    4 tsp. Baking Powder
    1 tsp. Salt
    1 C. Milk
    4 Tbsp. Butter, melted
    1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
    1 C. Semisweet chocolate chips.
    Molten Lava Sauce Ingredients:
    1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar
    1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
    3 C. Boiling Water
    You can see chocolate chips hiding in there
    1. Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in your crock pot. Stir in milk, melted butter and vanilla until combined. Spread the batter evenly over the bottom of the crock.
    cocoa powder and brown sugar
    2. Mix together the brown sugar and cocoa. Sprinkle mixture over the cake batter.
    NOTE: If you are not a molten fudge type of person, and want a more subtle cake, omit the sauce step, move on to the next part. The result is a springy, sweet and spongy cake that is a hit with the “I don’t much care for chocolate” crowd.
    3. Pour the boiling water over the top. DO NOT STIR!
    Not a great presentation piece but delicious nonetheless
    4. Cover and cook on High for 2 – 2 1/2 hours.
    Molten Lava Cake with vanilla bean ice cream
    5. Turn off heat, and remove lid. Let sit approx. 20 minutes before serving, so its still warm and liquid but will not scorch your tongue!
    This is what the cake looks like made without the sauce. 
    ENJOY!! I know we did! 

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    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Roasted Butter (Sun Butter and Butternut Squash) Soup

    Peanut-free, Tree nut-free, Gluten-free, Paleo friendly, Egg-free, Dairy-free
    Cup of "Roasted Butter Soup" -  Click Here to Vote for me
    Roasted butternut squash and Sunbutter soup!
    Ingredients:*4 Tablespoons canola oil
    *1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks (I had a 2.5 lb gourd)
    *2 cloves garlic,crushed
    *1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
    *3 cups vegetable stock
    *1 cup smooth Sunbutter
    *1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    *1/2 teaspoon salt
    *1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    *2 Tablespoons cream(optional)

    Use a Glass Baking Dish,Like this!
    This is a perfect dish for roasting squash
    Instructions:1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place your squash, garlic, and onion in a glass oven safe dish (like shown) and toss with the olive oil. Pour 1 cup of your vegetable stock over the squash mix and bake for approx. an hour (sometimes make take a little longer-you want the squash nice and soft!)
    Roasted until Soft!
    Onion,garlic and butternut squash chunks,roasted soft.
    2. Check your roasting squash mix every 20 minutes or so, and add more stock if needed to keep the veg from scorching;stir as little as possible while roasting.
    Blend until Smooth
    No chunks!
    3. Transfer the roasted squash mix (and any liquid left) into a large pot. Add the remaining stock,Sunbutter, salt & pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mix until blended. I recommend using a stick blender, to puree your squash smooth-or blend in a blender then add back to the pot. There should not be any chunks!

    Simmer down!

    4. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes. Add cream if you decide to use it, cook an additional 2 minutes, then stir and serve.

    Makes 8 servings, or roughly 8 cups.

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    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    My Coupon Organization System - Version 1?

    I finally got my coupon situation under control…I had a plastic bin that I would put my coupons in, and sort through them every time I went shopping…not very efficient.
    I chose a simple and cheap organizer, that has clear plastic pockets for 6 months worth of bills and other stuff, and each pocket has a clear envelope type pocket on the front, for the coupons. So I can hold each months bills and coupons in one place!

    I love blue!

    I printed out a monthly calendar, in order to keep track of paychecks and bills due. They are FREE, and you can get one every month here.

    Free printable calendars

    I also picked out a small accordion organizer, for taking my coupons to the store with me. I have it set up by store section, which makes life very convenient and I almost never have to double back for an item. 

    Organizes coupons by section of the store
    The plain blue folder is for my rebates…one side for ‘item needs to be purchased’ and the other is ‘ready to mail out’. When I am ready to use one, I stick the rebate in my monthly organizer, to remind me to purchase the item.
    I have my envelopes, stamps, pens and scissors all in the same place, and a very useful free self inking ‘Paid’ stamp, from Vista print. Now, I keep all of this in the same bin. It is my ‘Bills & Bargains Bin’, haha.

    Bin of Bills and Bargains
    Everything is all in one place, can be put away or taken out easily, and all my time sensitive materials are organized by date.

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    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Lemon Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting for Cupcakes (or Cakes)

    Lemon Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

    Standard yellow cake (my favorite, I am a bit of a purist!) cupcakes are made exceptional with lemon ginger cream cheese frosting.  I am not the world’s best cupcake decorator by a long shot, but the flavor of the frosting makes up for what I lack in decorating skills. ;)This makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, Spring is around the corner…
    1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)softened
    8oz Philly cream cheese (1 package) softened
    1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
    1 tsp ground ginger
    Grated zest of one large lemon (approx 1 1/2-2 tablespoons)
    1 tsp lemon juice

    1. Make cupcakes according to package directions.
    2. With a mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together for approx. 2 minutes, on medium speed until smooth.
    3. Add the lemon zest and juice. Mix to combine. Slowly add the icing sugar. Add the ground ginger and mix well.
    4.Chill the frosting in the fridge for 1/2 hour.
    5. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and use to decorate to your hearts content. I went Plain Jane on these babies.

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    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Comfort Food: Broccoli, Ham and Cheese Quiche

    Quiche - French comfort food!

    I am (mostly) French, so quiche is a familiar and familial dish for me. My dad made this for me on Saturday mornings when I was a little girl, and I would watch him chop and layer the ingredients with much interest. By that I mean, I was at his elbow, sneaking bits of veggie and bacon and getting scolded/comforted when he would, inevitably, elbow me in the face. :)
    This is one of my favorite dishes to make when I need a little comfort. We serve it with a garden salad or fresh fruit. I plan on taking one to my mother in law’s house for Mother’s day brunch this year!  I  like to add mild cheddar cheese (sharp cheddar doesn’t melt as well). This recipe is GREAT for finishing up leftovers, and freezes well, for those of you who like to cook ahead.
    A great way to use leftover veggies!
    1 frozen pie crust shell,thawed for 10-15 minutes on counter
    1 cup leftover broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
    1 cup ham, cooked and diced
    5 large eggs
    1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
    1/4 teaspoon mustard
    1/2 teaspoon dried minced Garlic
    1/2 teaspoon dried chopped onion flakes
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon parsley (optional)
    1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese or mozzarella. I also use ‘Italian blend’ and ‘taco blend’ occasionally.
    Mild works better than sharp, half fat works better than fat free
    Heat oven to 375°.
    Prick the bottom of the thawed crust with a fork. Dice your ham and broccoli.
    Saute the ham in a small  pan. This removes the excess moisture, and will keep your quiche from becoming soggy. Sprinkle your ham and broccoli in the bottom of the pie crust.
    Beat the eggs and milk until slightly frothy.Mix in the mustard,garlic,onion flakes,paprika and parsley(optional). Salt and pepper to taste. [I choose to not use any salt, since there is plenty of salt in the cheese.] Pour egg mix into the  pie crust over the ham and broccoli.

    Just beat it!
    Sprinkle cheese over egg mixture. Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes, or until quiche filling is set and top is ever so slightly browned.
    Eggie Pie, as my daughter calls it

    HINT: tap your quiche. If it bounces back at you, its perfect!
    Delicious with fresh fruit!

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Etching Glass - Recycled Wine Bottle Vase or Votive Holder With a Finished Rim

    The etched look finishes the top of the vase.

    I cut the tops off of green wine bottles, then faux etched the rims. This is incredibly easy! So much more so than I had originally thought. I used the simple score, heat and cool method and got a nice clean line.

    Materials Used:
    Empty wine bottles (free from neighbor)
    Glass cutting kit ($15)
    Sharpie or other marker
    Ice Cube

    A donation from my neighbor.

    Directions for Cutting Bottle:
    1.Wash bottle well and remove any label or glue residue.

    2.Place the bottle on the cutting tool and line the blade up with where you want to cut yur bottle. I marked mine off with a marker first, so it would be even.

    Score the bottle evenly.

    3.Gently heat the score line with a candle.

    4.Now run an ice cube over the score mark, cooling the glass. You may hear a small crackly sound.

    5.Once again, heat the score mark with the candle. It should now snap into two pieces for you!

    6.Sand the edges so that they are not rough. I used a fine grit sandpaper, made for glass (found at any local hardware store).

    Sanded Smooth!

    Now that your bottles are cut and sanded, we can 'etch' the top rim for a nice finished look.

    Materials Used:
    masking tape
    cut wine bottles, edges sanded
    Etching cream

    Directions for Etching:
    1. Decide how much of your bottle you want 'etched'. I did the top inch for the rim. Tape off a straight line underneath where you want the etched look to stop. 

    2. Apply your etching cream evenly. I recommend wearing protective gloves  for this part. Turn the vase by the bottom while applying. Follow the directions on the can.

    3. I let mine dry overnight before removing the tape and paper.


    A handful of daisies brighten up my kitchen in a bottle vase!

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    One Pot Stacked Enchilada Pie

    Stacked Enchilada Pie

    I borrowed my neighbors dutch oven for this recipe. I could have made it in a large sauce pot or a crock pot/slow cooker, but I felt like trying something new. :) This is one of my favorite meals to make if we are having friends over for dinner. It is kid friendly too, and feeds a crowd!


    Melty Goodness!

    12 inch Dutch oven (or oven safe crock/pot)
    2-pounds ground beef or ground turkey (I used beef)
    1- large onion, chopped
    1-package yellow or white corn tortillas
    2- small cans diced chilies
    1-large can enchilada sauce
    1-8 ounce can sliced olives
    2-packages of taco seasoning mix (I used mild)
    4-cups (2 packages) of shredded taco mix cheese
    2-Tbsp Canola or Vegetable oil

    Cheap or darn near free if you shop the deals

    1. Get Sizzlin'.    Warm your oil in your dutch oven/pot and add chopped onions. Cook on the stove top pver medium-low heat until the onions are half cooked. You can tell when they reach this stage because they will be limp but not see through.

    Warming up,not quite to the point of smoking.

    Not quite tender enough yet!

    2.  Beef it up!     Add ground beef and brown until cooked through. Add your taco seasoning mix and stir thoroughly. Drain fat. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Add your meat when the onions are halfway cooked.

    Smells delicious! Ready for layering.
    3Layers.   Time to start layering your stacked enchilada pie! This part is fun.  Take around one third of your meat and spread on bottom of Dutch oven/pot- keeping in mind that you will be making about three layers.

    I love everything in this!

    3B. Now spread one third of sliced olives, diced chilies, and enchilada sauce over the meat. Cover this with 5 to 6 of your tortillas and then cover your tortillas with one third of your cheese. Repeat this until all of your ingredients are in the pot!


    Top layers of tortillas and cheese.

    4.  Bubble Bubble...  Move the dutch oven/pot to the actual oven. Cook for 40 minutes or until the cheese is melty and bubbly.

    Smells Delicious!

    This recipe is so versatile...you can swap ingredients to your personal tastes, and make the recipe your own! You could add corn, black beans, rice, diced tomatoes...you name it, I have probably added it at one point. Also a great way to use up leftover veggies!

    This is guaranteed to make your family happy, or win you some hearts at a potluck. I might make this for the upcoming Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. Those lucky teachers!   ;)

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