Archive | June, 2012

4th of July Fun in Picasa 1960’s

An intimate day with just my husband and kids to celebrate Fourth of July brings great family photo opportunities.  Just because there are no guests doesn’t mean our holiday should be any less celebratory- with karaoke (thank you Katy Perry for “Firework” and Miley Cyrus for “Party In the USA”), sparklers and roasted marshmallows, we’ll never forget this peaceful, festive day.

Picasa 3 1960’s Color Enhancing

I’m still learning the many different tools out there for photo editing and organizing, and today I came across this fun auto color filter in Picasa 3.

Picasa is a free download from Google at: and I’m finding it to be a great tool to edit and organize my photos.  I’m able to export photos and do mass editing like scaling and watermark stamping for the entire album rather than individually formatting each photo, like in Gimp.

The only complaint I have is that I’m not able to format my watermark to use my logo image, and end up with the generic watermark (lower right-hand corner).  If there is a way to use my logo signature as my watermark in Picasa, I haven’t figured it out and that’s not due to lack of trying.


Another one of my favorite Picasa features is the collage tool.  Once you’ve chosen your photos from your download file, formatted and transferred them to your titled folder, it takes about 15 seconds to create a collage.

picasa photo tutorial

Picasa How To 1960's


How to format photos using Picasa 1960’s color enhancing:

  1. If you haven’t already downloaded Picasa, visit and follow instructions for a free download.
  2. Picasa will automatically load and organize all of your existing photo files, along with any future photo uploads.
  3. Locate the photo or photos from your folders that you want to enhance and select image by double-clicking.
  4. In the left-hand tool bar for color photo enhancing, select the green paintbrush that says, “more fun and useful image processing”
  5. Select “1960’s”

Picasa Tutorial

Here is the before and after:

Picasa Color Enhance

Before and After Picasa 1960’s Color Enhancement


Take THAT Voldimort!


Smores- NOW it’s a party!

I’m sure I need more knowledge on how to shoot fireworks- very tricky.


Instagram for Mobile

Of course I still love my Instagram for mobile photo color enhancing:


Taken on iPhone and edited via mobile in Instagram

For more Fourth of July fun and Picasa photo collaging, check out:

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Mashed Potatoes

Homemade Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Mashed Potatoes are a frugal and versatile side dish.  This recipe will feed four people, so to cook for more or prepare extra mashed potatoes for freezing or using in other recipes, double or triple this recipe.  Read more about the Underestimated Mashed Potato.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes


  • potatoes- 2 lbs, peeled and diced
  • salt- 1 tablespoon
  • butter- 4 tablespoons
  • milk- 1/2 cup


  1. place potatoes in large pot
  2. season with salt
  3. cover completely with water
  4. boil until potatoes are tender, approximately 15 minutes
  5. drain potatoes and transfer to mixing bowl
  6. add butter and milk
  7. mash with a potato masher
  8. for creamier potatoes, use an electric mixer
  9. add more milk or butter as desired
  10. season with more salt as desired


mashed potatoes recipe

peel and dice potatoes


place in pot and season with salt


cover with water and boil until tender




add butter and milk


mash with a potato masher


whip with an electric mixer


Five Recipes To Make With Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Leftover Mashed Potatoes Recipes

Leftover Mashed Potatoes Recipes

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4th of July Backyard Inspirations with Sears

I decided that my backyard needed a lift before our Fourth of July celebrations.  With the holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, we’re making our festivities intimate with a simple family barbeque.

4th of July Patio Table


Our patio is home to an outdoor living set with couch, table and chairs, but I wanted to add a small dining table where we can sit, each and watch the fireworks while enjoying the plants and flowers in full bloom.


I assessed the area to determine the criteria for our perfect patio set.  I wanted a small round table with chairs to fit in with the outdoor couch set we have now.

My “before” backyard patio


Before heading out to the store, I went online to Sears Style Hub and shopped for my new patio table and chairs.  With many options, including sizes, shapes and styles, I quickly found the perfect set for us.  Ordering online was simple, and most importantly- free for any patio set over $299.  And, online ordering can be done from home or from the store if your local Sears does not carry your patio set in the store.

Sears Style Hub


I decided that a simple but elegant dark resin table and chairs matched perfectly.  The fact it was on sale was a nice bonus!  Once the table arrived, assembly was easy.  Then it was time to create my Fourth of July backyard “inspiration” with this year’s theme being intimate and simple.

Patio Set

A perfect fit! Time to start decorating for dinner.


To add to the Fourth of July celebration, Sears is having a sale on the Menlo 5-piece patio for half price with free shipping.  And, by using the Sears Shop Your Way Rewards program, you earn points towards discounts on future purchases.  That’s a sweet deal.

Menlo Sears Sale

Menlo 5-piece patio set on sale for $499 at Sears


Time to start the grill!


In keeping in mind my “intimate and simple” themed barbeque, I made this super easy- but festive punch.  I used Crystal Light in Pomegranate flavor and added fresh blueberries.

4th of July Punch

Crystal Light in Pomegranate flavor is quickly transformed into a festive beverage by adding blueberries.


Now it’s time for our distinguished guests to enjoy their Fourth of July barbeque.



4th of July Smores

Now it’s a party!


Whatever your plans are for Fourth of July, you can always use a little inspiration.  Whether inspiration comes with a new recipe, a trip or a backyard lift, I hope this Fourth of July is the best yet for you and your family!

And, Sears is having a sweepstakes for you to win a little inspiration in the way of  some outdoor grilling prizes in the Win BIG this Summer in the #GrillingIsHappiness Facebook sweepstakes (6/1 thru 7/7)!

Happy Fourth of July!


To find more styles and deals from Sears for your outdoor barbeque this Fourth of July, visit Sears on Facebook, Twitter or check out the Weekly Local Sears Ad.

You can also follow Sears Shop Your Way Rewards on Twitter.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears #CBias #SocialFabric”, but the opinions and views expressed here are very much my own.

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Grandma’s Ghoulash

Grandma’s Ghoulash

Grandma’s Ghoulash


  • *ground beef - 1 1/2 lbs
  • bell pepper, green - 1, cored and diced fine
  • onion, white or yellow - 1 small, peeled and diced fine
  • elbow macaroni - 1 lb
  • crushed or diced tomatoes - 1 15oz. can
  • shredded Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese- 1 cup (8 oz.)
  • vegetable oil- 1 tablespoon
  • salt- 1 teaspoon
  • paprika- 1/2 teaspoon
  • pepper- 1 teaspoon
  • *If cooking extra beef to store for use in Weekly Meal Plan, use 3 lbs. of ground beef.


  1. Boil macaroni in salted water until tender; drain
  2. Heat oven to 350º
  3. In large skillet, brown meat with a tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until just brown; season with salt, paprika and pepper to taste
  4. Add diced onion, diced bell pepper, cooked macaroni and tomatoes; mix well and transfer to a baking dish
  5. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top
  6. Bake for 25 minutes


Weekly Meal Plan System

Weekly Meal Plan System

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