Thursday, December 17

How To Make Birch Wood Candles

This DIY project is a simple way to turn beautiful birch logs into decorative candle holders. They look wonderful and festive, and will make a beautiful decoration to your own home.

Thursday, December 10

Red Velvet Cake, It's A Birthday Tradition!

In our family, tradition is HUGE. If I tried to explain all that it encompasses, we'd be here all day! Suffice it to say, Red Velvet Cake has ALWAYS been the cake of choice when birthdays roll around. My grandmother started that tradition when my sister and I were just wee ones. And now, it's what our children ask for on their special day. My grandmother had her own recipe, and as children we thought it a delightful cake. Not to speak ill of my wonderful grandmother, but as we grew older we realized our cakes were lacking.... something. Then my mother picked up the spoon and she started baking cakes for our children. The kids LOVED MeMe's Red Velvet Cake, and we rode that cake plate for quite some time. But as each generation passes, so must the baking of the beloved Red Velvet Cake.

Monday, December 7

Pearl Harbor Day, Mrs. Miniver & Thinking

As today is December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, AMC has been running non-stop war movies, from the battlefield and the home front.  Seeing as how I couldn't sleep in the wee hours this morning, and I've already dusted, I watched Mrs. Miniver. One of my ALL time favorite WW II films. So I have a couple of thoughts, and bear with me as this is how my mind works - it drifts.

Friday, November 20

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole is so good and the only way to go as far as sweet potatoes are concerned. Creamy and delicious, these sweet potatoes are topped with a brown sugar streusel pecan crust. This casserole could easily be dessertmaybe even with a scoop of ice cream! You can make these aheadup to a couple of days in advance and then bake the crust for 10 minutes before serving. It makes an amazing side dish to any holiday meal!

Friday, November 6

Hot Fall Wedding Trends

This season, it's all about woodland motifs, green garlands, creatively displayed comfort foods and tons of metallic accents (even on cakes!).

Friday, October 30

Triple Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Oh chocolate, why do you have to go and be so delicious? Dense, rich, and decadent - oh my! This chocolate cake is a classic recipe without any fancy hard-to-find ingredients. In fact, it starts with a boxed cake mix and a handful of ingredients - that if you like to bake - you probably already have them in your pantry and fridge. Many bundt cakes are heavy and buttery, but this one is surprisingly light and incredibly moist under its silky chocolate glaze and the strong-brewed coffee in the batter intensifies the chocolate flavor while cutting the sweetness.

Tuesday, October 27

Retro Halloween Paper Centerpiece

A cool Halloween centerpiece can take a party to the next level. If you would like to make a homemade Halloween centerpiece that really stands out, here is a great idea. I love the retro look of this Halloween paper craft! This quick and easy project was SOOO much fun and would be an awesome craft night with the girls. I hope you like it.

Monday, October 26

25 SLOW COOKER SOUP RECIPES

Fall is officially in full swing and soup is the name of the game around our house. With the weather changing, these 25 Slow Cooker Soup Recipes will make the upcoming cold season much more bearable! Fall brings busy packed schedules for all and this roundup of recipes will eliminate the stress of the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”

Tuesday, October 13

Vintage Halloween Treat Bags & Tags: Free Printables!!

Hi there everyone, how are you? It’s almost Halloween and I for one am thrilled! Celebrate the day of ghosts and goblins with me using these spooktacular free printable Halloween bags and tags! You won’t believe how quick and easy it is to make your own DIY Halloween Treat Bags and/or Tags! These retro-Halloween graphics can easily be printed on brown paper bags using your home printer.

Sunday, October 11

How To Print Graphics On Paper Bags

Today I'm going to show you how to print graphics onto brown paper lunch bags. It’s quick…easy and FUN! Oh and did I mention budget friendly?

Monday, October 5

SEAFOOD CHOWDER

Mr.P and I love the Maine Diner in Wells, ME. This award winning diner serves up comfort food at it's best. The Seafood ChowderVoted Best Chowder at the Ogunquit Chowderfest 10 years running—alone will have you coming back for more. Whenever we are traveling through that part of the country we stop in for a visit and a cuppa something hearty and good. Sadly we live in Texas and don't make it to Maine as often as we'd like, so I have come up with my own Seafood Chowder recipe. It doesn't come close to the Maine Diners divine bowls, but it is one of my most requested recipes just the same. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 30

Easy Ways To Decorate With Pumpkins

Whether they line a country path, add classic appeal to an entryway, or enhance a seasonal table setting, vibrant pumpkins bring delightful harmony to our autumn décor. The quintessential symbol of fall, everyone's favorite gourd welcomes the season with effortless grace.

Friday, September 11

PAPER LEAVES FALL WREATH

Inspire yourself with something unique this fall and try out this wreath craft project using old pages from a book. You can use an older book you no longer need, paint your leafy cut outs with some fall water colors, which will keep the text visible. When completed, this understated fall decor will bring a vintage touch to your home this season.

Thursday, September 3

Plan a Large Outdoor Cookout with FIX

The good people at FIX.com contacted me about their new party planning illustrations. Grilling expert and founder of Grilling 24X7, John Thomas, breaks down how to host a successful cookout for a crowd! I thought with Labor Day upon us, I'd play along and share their very informative illustrations and post. John makes planning and throwing an outdoor BBQ simple and fun. So call your friends and family, turn on your grills and get to grilling people -- and enjoy your Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, September 1

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Christmas Savings Now!

It's September 1. Yes, it's the perfect time to talk about Christmas savings and early shopping!

Why? Because Christmas is only 115 days away, and you can start preparing for it now! Too many people wait until December to buy gifts. With no money saved, countless people turn to credit cards in a panic and end up paying for Christmas well into the new year. Not the best approach.

Thursday, August 27

Grand Central Market, NYC


When traveling to NYC we like staying in the middle of midtown Manhattan, close to Grand Central Station. As we make our way in or out of the station, depending on the time of day, we enjoy wandering through Grand Central Market. This small, but super varied market is filled with delicacies galore from around the city.

Thursday, August 13

LOBSTER CORN CHOWDER

When local corn is available, I can’t get enough of it. As the days get shorter and the evenings cooler, I love to make LOBSTER CORN CHOWDER. It’s summery yet hearty enough to serve big bowls for dinner. 

First, I make the stock with the lobster shells and corn cobs, then add lots of fresh corn, lobster meat, potatoes, bacon, celery, and some fresh chives. This is summer comfort food at it’s best—I may just have to make a pot this weekend!

Monday, August 10

Triple Peanut & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here's how you take the basic Chocolate Chip Cookie up a notch! Meet the coolest cookie in town, featuring mini peanut butter cups, honey-roasted peanuts, peanut butter and, of course, chocolate chips. These loaded cookies will be gone before you know it, so you might want to bake two batches! If you love the chocolate and peanut butter flavor combo, this cookie is for you!  ENJOY!

Sunday, August 9

PICKLED SUMMER STRAWBERRIES

Pickling isn't just for cucumbers anymore! You can reinvent pickling by using unusual ingredients, such as strawberries.  Preserving summer fruits towards the end of the season allows you to continue enjoying your favorite flavors throughout the fall and into the winter. This recipe uses a vinegar-based brine that preserves the strawberries. The vinegar based brine is very easy to make. After a few days in the refrigerator you will have a delicious sweet and salty treat. If kept refrigerated, these strawberries will last for up to two weeks. Eat them straight out of the jar, or enjoy them in salads and sandwiches, on ice cream and appetizers or along side a cheese platter. Your options for using pickled strawberries are endless, ENJOY!

Saturday, August 8

Ten Uncommon Uses For Used Tea Bags

tea bag
Everyone is familiar with the health benefits of tea: it fights cancer, reduces risk of stroke and other diseases, and revitalizes body cells. Yet, after you’ve drained your delicious cup of tea, you find yourself discarding the used tea bag. Well, don’t. You’ll be surprised at the number of ways you can reuse this untapped treasure. Here are a ten unique and surprising uses for those old tea bags.

Thursday, August 6

Easy Pull Apart Pizza Bread

Looking for an easy and out of this world tasting, crowd-pleasing recipe? Pull apart pepperoni pizza bread is so simple to make and amazing to eat. For anyone who loves pizza, this recipe is for you. Pull apart pizza bread is perfect anytime of day. Lunch, dinner, an evening snack when you have your friends over or watching a movie with the kids. It's delicious and fast! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4

Homemade Citronella Candles

Do citronella candles work? Well, don’t expect a single candle on a huge patio to be your golden ticket to eliminating mosquitoes. But in a controlled area, with enough candles, citronella candles will keep mosquitoes and other bugs at bay. They do make a difference.

Wednesday, July 22

How To Throw A Sunny Summer Picnic

Grab your family and friends and head to the backyard for a summer picnic! Picnics are the personification of summer fun with delicious food, refreshing drinks, and laid-back, warm sunshine. Turn it into a party with a few decor touches and picnic baskets for everyone! Below are my top tips for throwing a backyard summer picnic.

Friday, July 10

5 Homemade Summer Salad Dressings

I may have mentions on a few occasions [tongue-in-cheek] that I am slightly addicted to salads. From the crisp to the crunch and the bursts of flavor in between, summer is just not the same without salads made with fresh produce. Same goes for salad dressings. Why by store-bought brands when you can quickly and easily make your own dressings -- minus the additives, plus all of the fresh goodness. Find one on the list below and give it a try. You never know, you just might find a new favorite!

Friday, July 3

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL!

Barbecue, fireworks, parades, hot dogs, picnics, lemonade, concerts, home-made ice cream, grilled burgers, swimming and baseball games!  WHEW! From small towns to big cities and all across this beautiful nation of ours, these are just a few of the ways we will celebrate the 4th of July, America’s Independence Day. Red, white, & blue will be the colors of the day, and being with the ones we love will surely be the highlight of our long weekend. It is fitting that we stop and take the time to celebrate the independence of our great nation! Below [each picture is linked to it's original source] is a collection of recipes, decor and easy entertaining tips for the birthday of our nation! Let's CELEBRATE!

Thursday, June 18

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Lemons & Limes

During the summer many recipes call for lemon or lime juice. Here are a few TIPS to keep in mind when you are buying and juicing your citrus.

Wednesday, June 10

IT'S BLUEBERRY SEASON!

Blueberries are in season! This WONDER-fruit is sweet-tart and bursting with flavor. They have consistently been ranked among the top fruits and vegetables tested for antioxidant activity and several studies indicate that they are good for memory. Enjoy them now when they have the best flavor and are the least expensive!

Tuesday, June 9

The Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

Consuming lemon water on a daily basis can actually change your life –– for good! Not only does this citrus fruit alkalize your system (this is what I use it for, helping keep my tummy under control), it can also improve your overall health by preventing pathogen bacteria in your body. Lemons are packed like a clown car with nutrients, including vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.

Friday, June 5

20 GREAT ESCAPES THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL SMALL

Immense landscapes, huge mountain ranges, vast forests and massive waterfalls are all things in nature that can make you feel small, in a good way. That’s why I've listed 20 great escapes that can make you feel small and let’s you fully absorb the surroundings of where you are standing.. pure solitude and peace..

Sunday, May 31

10 WAYS WITH WATERMELON

June is upon us and our little family has already started eating our favorite Summer food –WATERMELON! Just one look at a watermelon and I begin to feel relaxed and stress-free. I'm sure many of you have great memories of watermelon – fireworks, parades, picnics, seed-spitting contests, thumps and such!

Saturday, May 30

SHE SHEDS - the room you never knew you needed!

I love sheds, but this is no ordinary shed! 

It's the room you never knew you needed! 

Welcome to the world of SHE SHEDS!

Friday, May 22

Confessions of A College Student's Mom: Great Alternatives to Double Majors

So, child #2 is home from college and our home is bursting at the seams with her 'stuff'. You all will be glad to know that I'm holding my OCDness together surprisingly well. The most obvious reason for this is because I know when she leaves for college this fall we will not be seeing her on a regular basis. I'm a little sad about that. Nevertheless, birds gotta fly and Mamas gotta let them go. We went through the same thing with child #1. And as hard as it was, we made it just fine. In fact, Mr.P and I enjoy the nest when it's empty!

Thursday, May 7

LIFE LESSONS FROM MOM

My mother has taught me many valuable lessons that have helped shape my life. The advice I received from her was not specifically contained in any one sentence or in a formal heart-to-heart conversation, but in many discussions throughout my life. My Mother is caring, giving, nurturing, ever so patient, quietly hopeful and above all loving. But her best quality was to teach by example. That is the kind of life my mother has lived. She has inspired me in all areas by being a living example of what it is to be a wife, mother and friend. Here are the top ten lessons about life and love my sweet mother graciously taught me that have touched every aspect of my life and affected the majority of decisions I've made.

Wednesday, April 29

EASY LEMON POPPY SEED MUFFINS

Is it me, or is there is something magical about lemon poppy seed muffins? There is something about that fresh citrus tartness, mixed with the sweet cakey muffin and the distinct poppy seed flavor. It’s a good time. When making the muffins, I like to add lots of fresh lemon zest and lemon juice to the batter, and when they are hot out of the oven I spoon over a simple syrup made from freshly squeezed lemon juice and sugar, to add that extra lemon flavor. Like making pound cake, the syrup sort of traps in the moisture and freshness, and makes them last a little longer than most other muffins. These are perfect in the morning with coffee, or in the afternoon with a glass of milk. They are simple, fresh, and delicious. Enjoy!

Monday, April 20

Mason Jar Hanging Light

Sometimes it's the smallest details in a room that make the biggest impact, bringing a whole room together. Personal decorating ideas from small details, decorative accents, a touch of color and cute knickknacks can make immense things happen in interior decorating. Charming handmade embellishments and recycled items are inexpensive ideas that give great opportunities to change the way your room looks and feels.

Wednesday, April 15

HERB ICE CUBES

Do you use your freezer to preserve herbs, vegetables, or fruit? The freezer can be a powerful, overlooked method of preserving. Pesto, strawberry puree, tomato soup — stash them away now to be used later. One of my favorite ingredients, a handful of fresh herbs from the garden, is one of the simplest things to preserve in the freezer, and I just learned a new, better way to freeze herbs: In oil!

Saturday, April 11

CAST-IRON SKILLET MAC & CHEESE

Homemade mac and cheese can be time-consuming to prepare. This version is quick and easy, on the table in just about 30 minutes total! The spark for this recipe came from a close friend, who is a whiz in the kitchen.  She casually combines ingredients without using a particular formula. She goes by feel, adding handfuls of cheese and spoonfuls of flour until the mixture right. Then she stirs in the cooked macaroni, pours everything into a casserole dish, and runs it under the broiler for a few minutes. The blast of heat creates an instant crust—no need for breadcrumbs.

Thursday, April 9

The Truck Yard, Lower Greenville, Dallas

Have you been to the Truck Yard in Dallas? If not, you must go! NOW! The Truck Yard is home to Dallas' best food trucks. It is affectionately referred to as a “casual beer garden and adult playground.” The Truck Yard is a great place for good food, the best craft beer - not that I'm drinking it, and one of the best places to meet up with old friends and make new ones.

Monday, April 6

How To Eat Like A Local While Traveling

After weeks of eyeing airfares and saving up, you finally took the plunge and booked a trip abroad. Congratulations! Now, the fun begins. You’ll start mapping out where to stay, what to see, how to commute, and most importantly, WHERE TO EATFood, cooking, and dining rituals play a central role in every culture, and they are not to be missed. By eating locally you are able to dive into traditions that have been around for hundreds of years.

Friday, April 3

Quick & Easy Decadent Strawberry Cake

Sunday, April the 5th is Mr.P's birthday! 50 years! 50 years of joys, trials, wonderful memories and living life to the fullest. Mr.P has been a great blessing to our family and our lives have been enriched because of him and what he stands for. We will celebrate his birth, his life and our love. I do love Mr.P!

Tuesday, March 31

Writing Letters To Military Recruits During Basic Training

Photo VIA
When our loved ones are away at Boot Camp or Basic Military Training, we want to show our love and support by keeping a steady stream of letters or emails coming their way. I know the whole idea of a blank piece of paper or an empty email with only the To and From fields filled in is intimidating, but don’t be afraid.... your Airman, Soldier, Guardsman, Sailor or Marine will be so happy to hear from you! After all, this is going to be your main form of communication.

Sunday, March 22

Flower Garden Essentials

I. LOVE. CHARLOTTE. MOSS. She is my go-to style guru. From the soap in the bathroom, the flowers in the garden, the book on the bedside table, her attention to detail is unsurpassed. All are strong symbols of a life in progress. You look at these details and a beautiful world unfolds. Even though it is planned, Charlotte makes it look effortless.

Saturday, March 21

Cookies and Cream Icebox Cake


What makes a cake? Flour, sugar, greasing and lining pans, whipping and beating and spending all afternoon in the kitchen? I'll admit, I have a few cake recipes that are labor and time intensive — but this wouldn't be one of them. Containing all of four ingredients, and no bake time, this is the quickest and easiest cake I've ever made. Not to mention one of the best!

Thursday, March 19

Bacon Florentine Pasta

Traveling through Italy taught me how quick and easy it is to cook pasta with fresh ingredients. Of course sitting at a side walk trattoria off of the Piazza Narvona gives GREAT inspiration! If you've never cooked with fresh spinach you will be surprised at how much it wilts and cooks down - so don't be intimidated by the 3 cups used in this recipe. Top this pasta dish with a couple of grilled chicken breasts, or the oh so very Italian bistecca, and you've got one fantastic speedy meal! ENJOY!

Wednesday, March 18

Inspiring Bookshops Around The World

My mother shared her love of reading with me. I grew up loving to read. I married a man who loves to read. We gave birth to two children who love to read. We are a family of readers and bibliophiles — book lovers. I am extremely grateful for this. 

A good date night for Mr.P and me is dinner, a trip to one of our favorite independent bookstores, a little late night music and maybe a trip to a coffee house or the frozen custard shop — depending on the weather!

Monday, March 9

HOBONOCHI or FAUXBONICHI?

Have you heard of it? A cross between a scheduler, notebook, art journal, diary...the Hobonichi planner has unlimited possibilities for uses. Hobonichi journaling originated in Japan in 2002 and has grown in popularity during the last decade. I really don’t know much about it other than it seems to be a page a day journal that focuses on visual journaling, which is right up my alley. It screams Susan Branch to me - whom I LOVE!

Thursday, February 26

Oven-Roasted Rosemary Garlic Red Potatoes

Roasted potatoes are a very simple side dish to prepare and always a crowd favorite. Red potatoes, garlic cloves, olive oil, and rosemary sprigs roast at a higher temperature than normal, to create a crispy crust and dark golden exterior. They pair beautifully with just about any fish, chicken or meat dish.

Monday, February 23

Parmesan Crusted Baked Chicken Breast

My grandfather, Big Gran, is 96 and still lives on his own. My sister, aunt and I take turns checking on him, running errands, taking care of household chores and doing his grocery shopping. To be honest, the majority of the time these responsibilities fall on my sister and aunt — and thank God for them!

About a month ago Big Gran called me wanting chicken thighs. Yes he still cooks. Later that same day, I just happen to be talking with my mother. "No, no!", she said, "He doesn't want thighs, he wants chicken breasts. He doesn't like dark meat."

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