Homemade Pinto Beans

Pinto beans. We love pinto beans! I am NOT a fan of canned pinto beans though, they are salty and just ew. Why get canned when you can make your own! (Freeze too!)

We make them from scratch because it is EASY and CHEAP. I make a HUGE batch (I double the recipe below) and freeze for later use. They are a quick grab and defrost for nights when I didn't have time was lazy and didn't plan dinner ahead of time. Bean burritos anyone? Bean and cheese nachos? Yum...


4 cups dry pinto beans
1 large onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole jalapenos, sliced or chopped (3 if you like a little extra kick, we use 4)
2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons black pepper


Rinse and pick through your dry pinto beans. You are looking for tiny rocks. Tiny rocks that could chip your tooth. Ouch...

Rinse beans. They are dirty...

Some people don't soak their beans. I do. It cuts down the cooking time and really? Why not? I am not doing anything while they soak. Most of the time I am sleeping. When I wake up they are ready to go! Save yourself some time and soak your beans in the pot you will be cooking them in.

I also read that soaking them will reduce the gas-causing agents in them. EVERYONE in the family benefits from that! The gas producers and the victims of the gas! That being said, cover your beans with water and let them soak for at least 4 hours.

Dump soaking water, and rinse beans one more time. 

Cover beans with water...again, about 2 inches above the beans.

Bring to a boil! Then reduce to a simmer. Cover.

Chop veggies, and measure out spices. Set aside.

After about an hour, add the veggies, spices, and garlic to the pot. At this time make sure to check the water. By now it should start to look like a delicious brown gravy... Mexican gravy....

If it looks like it needs more water, make sure you add some. You don't want the beans sticking to the bottom. Burnt beans smell gross...I don't know this from personal experience or anything...

After the 2nd hour they should be done! If they need a little more time that is ok! Just taste them. If they are soft and delicious you are good to go! Also make sure to gauge their saltiness while you check their doneness. They might need a little more salt! If they do add some. I always add salt at the end, but adding a little at the end is WAY better than a salty pot of beans!

Bam! Who needs canned? Not us... I wrote above that I double this recipe. To store in the freezer allow for the beans to cool completely and spoon them into freezer safe storage bags. I do about 2 cups in each bag.

These are also amazing "refried." I don't fry them though, I smash them up in the Mexican gravy, a.k.a cooking water.


7 Lessons I Hope My Kids Learn From Harry Potter

I'm a Potterhead. I'm 11 days older than Harry Potter. We would have been at Hogwarts together, but I'm convinced Pansy Parkinson stole my Hogwarts letter. I guess that's neither here nor there now. What IS important is that I learned a lot from Harry Potter and continue to do so.

My oldest is a Potter head. I am so proud! I haven't quite decided when I will start reading the series to my two youngest. Two and four are still a bit young, but we still look at the pictures in the illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! When we finally do, (the best day of my life) I hope they learn the following lessons...

1. Life isn't always fair. There are times when we are dealt a bum hand. Even though it sucks, there is still joy to be had, even in the darkest of times. 
2. Our choices show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. 
3. Our loved ones never truly leave us. 
4. Sometimes the right path isn't the easiest. 
5. It's ok to be a little different or weird. Our true friends will love us anyway. 
6. Anything is possible if you've got enough nerve. Be brave!
7. A mother's love is powerful. I'll love you forever! 


Crock-Pot Carnitas

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas. I love, love, love, love, love, love me some carnitas. For those who don't know what carnitas are, (gasp) it's a Mexican braised pork dish. Traditionally, the pork is braised in lard. I'm pretty sure just saying the word "lard" will make me gain 10 pounds, let alone eat something cooked in it. Since we are trying to be more healthy, I still braise them, but low and slow in my crock pot AND with a different liquid.

You can use carnitas in a ton of things. They are similar to Bubba Gump Shrimp in that way. Carnitas tacos, carnitas burritos, carnitas tostadas, carnitas salads, carnitas bowls etc. etc. Not saying that I do this, BUT nothing is wrong with just eating them plain with a fork, or even your fingers. (Ok, ok, guilty... and you will be too!)

They are super simple to make, especially in a crock pot.


4-5 lbs. pork shoulder, pork butt, Boston butt, basically pork with some fat
5 cloves garlic (I use the stuff already minced in a jar, yes, yes... fresh is BEST, don't judge me.)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large onion sliced
2 Jalepenos Slice (Leave the seeds if you want spicier!)
2 Limes Juiced
1/2 cup orange juice
12 ounce beer (Did you know that you CAN buy just one can of beer!? I did it. It was Corona even. They must have thought I was a mommy lush and slammed it chilling in my car. It really went into the meat. I promise!)
1/2 cup salsa (I use a non-chunky, spicy, variety.)


Mix all of your dry seasoning in a bowl.
Give your pork the rub down with seasoning mixture and throw into crock pot.
Sprinkle garlic on top.
Throw in sliced onions and Jalepenos.
Finally add all liquids; lime juice, orange juice, salsa and beer.
Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until meat is fork tender.

Raw Canitas in a Crockpot
...ready to cook!
Cooked Carnitas
...and done!

Now for the fun part. Pull meat from the crock pot and chunk. Nothing too tiny. When you are ready to serve, cover a cookie sheet or two with aluminum foil. Place your carnitas on  the sheet. Spoon some of the cooking juices on the meat. BROIL for 10-15 minutes. This will crisp them up and make them even more delicious.

...chunks of pork deliciousness!
...before and after broiling! YUM!
Serve with your favorite toppings.

Storing. 4-5 pounds of raw pork will make a decent amount of carnitas. If, and I say IF you have leftovers, store in the fridge with some of the cooking juices.

This recipe freezes beautifully! Make sure to also put some of the cooking juices in the freezer bags! Yum! The night before I want to serve them, I pull the bag from the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge. Then just follow the broiling directions! Boom! Dinner in 15 minutes!


Tips For Your Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Costume

So you have decided to visit Disney this fall AND partake in Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Good choice! Pat yourself on the back! You are going to have a BLAST. The FALL at Walt Disney World is by far my most favorite time to visit. Never been to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party? Consider the below tips when planning your costume!
Baby in an Incredibles Costume
1. Don't forget that it still hot in Florida in September and October. You don't want to be sweating your you know what off! Plus sweaty and hot kids are generally not in great moods! I'll take cool and happy kids over crabby, hot, mini-dictators any day!
2. Try a costume mash-up. Daughter wants to be both Darth Vader and a princess? Do it! What a fun way to be two Disney characters! What about a Snow White Stormtrooper? Or Darth Minnie? Isn't my friend Sylvia cute? You can find her and her cute costumes here.
3. Choose a costume that doesn't have a ton of bells and whistles, especially for your kids. You don't want to spend your night wrangling a million pieces of jewelry, hats, capes, etc. If you do just remember a bag to stuff everything in once your kids or husband are tired of wearing them. 
4. Make sure to read Disney's Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween costumes guidelines here. Rules are rules folks!
5. Tutus look cute with everything, but beware of number two. She lasted one, yes only one hour with the tutu and then it was stored in a bag for the rest night. 
Incredible Costume with a tutu
6. Try a group costume! It looks great in photos, but if you choose to be the Incredibles (ahem...) be prepared to see a million other "Incredible" families. This year I vow to be more inventive!
Family Group Photo at Mickey's Not So Scary Hallowen Party
Need help planning your Disney vacation? You know where to find me!


DIY Mandrake Cake

Calling all muggles, wizards, and witches! Do you have your earmuffs ready to go? We ALL know a mandrake's cry is deadly! Today we are going to make our very own Mandrake cake! It is pretty simple and will look amazing at your next Harry Potter shindig!

What you will need for the Mandrake...

All the fixin's for rice cereal treats
  • Rice Cereal
  • Butter
  • Marshmallows
Aluminum Foil
Fondant (I purchased a small tub from Walmart!)
Artificial leaves
Cocoa Powder

That's it!

1. Cover your artificial fake leaves with foil. This is more for sanitary purposes than anything else. I had a hard time with my fake leaves because the stems weren't very long, SO get something longer when you make yours! You can always cut them down if needed.

2. Prepare the rice cereal treats. I am not going to bore you with the details of how to make these, but I did use this recipe. Allow them to cool a tiny bit, long enough not to give yourself 3rd degree burns handling them, but still warm and pliable. Safety first of course!

3. Spray the hand not holding the leaves with non-stick spray and start molding the treats around the foil. I will admit. This is not the easiest thing to do. It is sticky and you have to really apply some pressure to make it stick! Only thing I kept thinking was, "Man those Food Network bakers make this look easy!" BUT alas, I did it!

4. Now for the fun part! Once you have your stem covered start building his head. Squish the cereal treats into a ball around the stem.. It doesn't have to be perfect. Mandrakes are so ugly they are cute, right? I gave mine a little bulbous nose and squinty eyes. Only extra tool I used was a butter knife. High tech, eh?

For the body, since he was going to be sitting in a cake, or in our case a huge vat of dirt pudding his body was simple. It was pretty much a square with a rounded top and shoulder indentions.

5. Now it is time to cover him! First, take your white fondant and knead cocoa powder into it. This will make your fondant look dirty. Mandrakes live in dirt! It doesn't need to be completely brown, patches of white or darker brown spots will give the illusion of dirt smudges!

6. Roll it out. Simple, eh?

7.Throw the fondant on him and start pressing it into the rice treat base. Now for some more fun. Give your mandrake as many wrinkles, dents, and, lumps as you want! The uglier the better. Smudge even more cocoa powder into his new beauty marks.

That's it! Done. He's so ugly he's cute! Don't you think?  My daughter thought he was awesome. She wanted to hug him, and squeeze him, and love him.

Now. You can use your mandrake on top of cake or in our case in a vat of dirt pudding. One caveat I will give... if you go the dirt pudding route, make sure that your mandrake sits on top of the final layer of crushed cookies. Ours was slightly submerged and by the end of the party, we had mandrake guts to contend with!

We loved him. It's a shame we used him in a batch of mandrake restorative draught, but a wizard has to do what a wizard has to do.


Happy Planner Freebie - Harry Potter Daily Insert

In my most recent 5 Thoughts Friday I mentioned that I started keeping a paper planner. Since then I have received several emails asking which one I am using sooooooo I thought I would share!

I am using a Happy Planner. It is made by Me & My Big Ideas and is a binder style planner. What I mean by binder style is that I can pull stuff out and insert where I need to. I can customize it to meet my needs! I LOVE this planner. Plus it gets extra points for being pretty! Pretty makes me happy and more importantly makes me want to use it!

Now... As you can see, my planner is decked out with a Minnie Mouse cover. If you haven't already figured it out from past blogs, I LOVE Disney, BUT I also LOVE Harry Potter. I am a Potterhead for sure. I was a little sad that Harry Potter was not being represented in my amazing planner so I designed this little daily insert! I like it so much that I want to share it! The PDF is formatted to print on an 8.5 by 11 sized sheet of paper. I left a little extra space on the left side for the punch holes, so beware if you are going to try and print them back to back.

If you cut right inside of the dotted lines it should fit perfectly into your Happy Planner! Enjoy!

Please note... You will need a .PDF Reader - you can get one here for FREE.

This insert is designed to print on a full "8.5by11" sheet of paper and then TRIMMED TO FIT your planner.

Make sure to print them in "actual size" so they fit perfectly in your planner! After printing, you will simply need to trim down the excess on the sides so that it measures to The Happy Planner size of 7" x 9.25".

Make sure to SUBSCRIBE! Just enter your email address to the right of this post! I will be offering FREE monthly printables to subscribers of The Village. You don't want to miss out!

* Belle of My Own Ball printables are for PERSONAL USE ONLY.
* You may not re-sell, redistribute, or claim the designs as your own.
* If you post this on the internet, please give credit to Belle of My Own Ball and link back to my website (www.BelleOfMyOwnBall.com), so others can obtain the files from the original source. Thank you!

If you are looking for a little more Harry Potter for your Mini Happy Planner, you can purchase my Harry Potter inspired 2018 January thru December, Monthly Calendar (month on two pages) layouts! Just click here!



Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Add Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party to your 2016 Disney Bucket List

After months of waiting, Disney finally released the 2016 dates for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! 29 nights of spooktacular fun! Yay! Can you tell I have already picked out my party date?

Here are my top 5 reasons why Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is ALWAYS on my Disney bucket list...

1. The trick-or-treating is fun! This is my son's favorite part! The candy is no joke. Make sure to leave room in your luggage to take it all home!

2. Special entertainment!

3. The treats. Don't they look tasty?

4. Dressing up is fun!

5. Meet and Greets with characters who are not normally available such as Jack Skellington and Sally!

Here are the dates for this year's 2016 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!
  • September – 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30
  • October – 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31

  • Which one are you going to? Need help deciding? Contact me!

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