Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes

I love scalloped potatoes but the box versions always seem a little gummy to me. I have never tried the homemade version but when I saw this crockpot version I knew I had to give it a try and I'm so glad I did. These go great with pork chops and are absolutely YUMMY!!

 Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes

Serves 6

2 pounds potatoes (about 6 medium)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 can Cream of (YOUR CHOICE) Soup
1/4 cup flour
4 slices American Cheese

Peel and thinly slice your potatoes. Toss slices in the water and cream of tartar. Drain. Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. Put half of the sliced potatoes in and top with half of the onion slices. Sprinkle with 1/8 cup of the flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining sliced potatoes and onions. Sprinkle with remaining flour and salt and pepper. Disperse the butter in chunks over the top and then cover with undiluted soup. Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 9 hours (High: 3 to 4 hours). Add cheese slices 30 minutes before serving. Give your potatoes a few quick turns and serve!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Really, Real Reality: Advent Calendar to Encourage Young Readers

My Really, Real Reality: Advent Calendar to Encourage Young Readers

Homemade Baked Potato Chips

Who doesn't love a salty, crispy, potato chip? But.....who doesn't love what it does to our midsections?? Good news!! I found a delicious recipe that tastes just as good as those fried pieces of heaven but contains less calories and fat.

Homemade Baked Potato Chips

 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray your cookie sheet with olive oil. Cook potato slices in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain well and combine with olive oil and salt and pepper. You could also add some spices for a kick like oregano, basil, or garlic. Place potato slices on your prepared cookie sheet in an even layer and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown; turning once. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool a bit. Serve. YUM!!

DIY Coat Rack

Have you ever seen all those cute knobs and drawer pulls in your local craft store? I love them and have thought and thought and thought some more about how I can use some of them in my decor without spending a fortune. I finally found the answer......
A DIY coat rack!!
In my case, I picked up my knobs and door knob at my local Hobby Lobby when they were having one of their famous 50% off sales.

Step one. Decide how long you want your coat rack and find the perfect piece of lumber for you. You can find one to sand smooth as a baby's butt. I found a piece of wood with some character that had some knots and pits in it. I barely sanded it, just enough to take away the roughness, but not so much that it erased any character. 

Step two. Stain or paint your piece of wood. I used some paint to achieve the perfect color for me. By dipping my brush in some water before painting it created a stained look.
You could use any color you like. I sampled many on a scrap piece of wood before deciding.


Step three. I had my husband drill holes for the hardware. I could have done it myself but he loves doing handy work so I pass it on to him every chance I get! 
Note:  The door knob had to be trimmed with a hacksaw so it didn't stick out beyond the board.

Step four. Attach the hardware.

Step five. Hang your coat rack!!
 We drilled holes straight through the coat rack and drilled it right into the wall. Next, we filled the holes with wood caps.


Then, we touched them up with the paint stain. And voila!!

I love the way it turned out!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Irresistible Homemade Honey Caramel Sauce

I came across this recipe while browsing Pinterest, and since I am a caramel lover, I knew I had to try it. It was SO easy to make - maybe a little too easy. We dipped some slices of Granny Smith apples in it, and it was divine! I'm already envisioning all the other yummy things we can use it on - over ice cream, drizzled on some chocolate pound cake, and so on. I think it would also be terrific to make this, then transfer it to a fondue pot or mini crockpot and dip all sorts of fruit and cake in it like you would with a chocolate fondue. Last great idea - make it to give as a gift for friends, teachers or neighbors accompanied with some apples or a pound cake. Try it out - I think you'll agree with me that it is irresistible!

I will include the recipe below, so that you don't have to do a bunch of clicking around to find it, but I want to give credit to the original owner of the recipe, so here is the link to her recipe if you prefer. The pic above is from her site, and she has more pics included.



  • 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 1 Stick Butter (1/2 Cup)
  • 3/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

  1. Stirring constantly, mix together Butter, Honey and Brown Sugar in a sauce pan over medium to medium high heat.
  2. Bring mixture to a rolling boil for 2 minutes and continue constantly stirring so as not to let anything burn on the bottom of the sauce pan.
  3. Add can of condensed milk and continue stirring over heat until it is thoroughly mixed in.
  4. Enjoy!
  5. Sauce will thicken as it cools and can be served right away or stored in the refrigerator and reheated later.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Taco Pizza

There are two meals I can always count on to make my family happy: pizza and tacos.  So why not combine them into one delicious dish? 

Yes, please!
First I made my Simple Pizza Crust (recipe HERE)

I baked each crust without toppings.  While those cooked....

I browned some ground beef.  Added some taco seasonings and black beans.

Spread a thin layer of refried beans on each crust.  Top with ground beef mixture and grated cheese. (I used a mixture of colby and monterey jack) I also tossed on a few black olives.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

We completed it with our favorite cold taco toppings - lettuce, chopped tomato, avocado, and sour cream.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DIY Embellished Sweatshirt

I have been seeing embellished sweatshirts all over Pinterest and DIY blogs.  They seem to be quite a thing this season. And why not? The comfort and ease of sweats - with a little bling! This was a DIY project I simply had to take on!

An inexpensive sweatshirt, some sparkly trim and sew on gems

Sewed the trim around the collar
Add the sew-on gems in a simple pattern

And there you have it! One embellished sweatshirt.  For less than $10 and created in under 30 minutes!    

(This post originally appeared on This IS My Day Job)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fun, Simple and Spooky Halloween Decorations

Halloween is such a fun time of year with all the fun costumes, spooky decorations, cheesy horror movies and candy! I always do some indoor decorating for the holiday, but this year, I really felt inspired to make the outside of the house look Halloween-o-rific as well. As with many of my creative ideas these days, I was inspired by something I stumbled across while perusing Pinterest, however, the original link simply had some photos of decor that an artist had done - no instructions. I decided to use their photos as a guide to get my project going. Here's the finished result. Spooky Fun!

Here's what you will need:
  • cardboard (I still had plenty of moving boxes left in the garage!)
  • black spray paint
  • colored tissue paper
  • utility knife/box cutter
  • tape
  • marker or pencil
  • dowel rods or other wooden sticks for support
  • some artistic ability or a template of your choice 

 How to make your delightfully scary Halloween window silhouettes:
1. Draw or trace your designs on the cardboard. I just free-handed it, and honestly it wasn't   that difficult, because the monster shapes are pretty basic. For the hands, I did trace my own arm/hand.

2. Cut out the shapes 
3. Spray paint with the black paint or you could use foam brushes and craft paint. I did a   couple of coats of spray paint with the cheap $1 cans of paint from Walmart. 
4. Tape colored tissue paper to the back side of the cut outs to make the eyes and other cut out areas.
5. Tape dowel rods or other support behind any areas that need it - for instance, my googly eyes needed it, and the little monster arms standing up also. You can find packs of these small rods at Walmart or the local craft store.
6. Prop your spooky new friends in the window and wait for the sun to go down! My hubby also suggested switching the light bulbs out with colored bulbs for an added effect, but we haven't tried it yet. Added bonus, the monsters even look cute during the day!!
** I used clear packing tape to put the hands in the window **

This was actually a really inexpensive and fun project! Get creative and have fun!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Crock Pot Chili

The weather has turned chilly here this week, and I don't know about you, but for me that means it's time for plenty of baking (especially pumpkin flavored goodies) and CHILI! I love a good, hearty bowl of chili and some honey cornbread. Here's a super simple recipe! I make mine vegetarian, and honestly with the heartiness of all the beans in it the meat is not missed, but it would work just as well with some lean ground beef or ground turkey added in. Enjoy!

  • 1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Pinto Beans, undrained
  • 1 can Kidney Beans, undrained
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1 bag Frozen Sweet Yellow Corn (adds the "sweet")
  • 1 packet McCormick Chili Seasoning
  • 2 tsp Ground Cayenne Red Pepper (adds the "spicy" - adjust to your fav level of spicy)


  1. Add all ingredients to your crock pot.
  2. Cook on Low 4-6 hours.
  3. Serve with your favorite toppings (I love sour cream, diced avocado and shredded cheddar) and some cornbread or tortilla chips.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Simple and Yummy Fruit Smoothies

I have been making these smoothies for a long time as an easy and delicious sweet treat, but it occurred to me that I've never shared the recipe. My kids love them, and they are SO easy! I recently switched from using regular yogurt to greek yogurt to add a little extra protein. I'm always looking for ways to make sure the vegetarian in the house is getting all her protein and vitamins, and while there is still plenty of sugary sweetness in this treat, it is mostly from the natural fruit and fruit juice sugars, so I feel a little better about than rather than processed sugars.


  • 1 Cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1 2/3 Cup No Sugar Added Frozen Fruit (my fav is Dole diced pineapple and mango or peach)
  • 1/3 Cup 100% Fruit Juice (I like either apple, grape or pineapple)


  1. Add all ingredients to the blender and push the button...voila! SO EASY!
  2. You can add extra juice if you prefer a thinner smoothie or more fruit if you prefer an even thicker version. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lasagna Casserole

Yes, I know my sis just posted a lasagna recipe recently, but here's another variation! I mean, who doesn't love lasagna? and who doesn't love a quick, easy meal? These recipes combine both, so give them both a try! The original recipe for this "casserole" added meat and onions to the sauce layer, but since I have a vegetarian in the house and the majority of my family does not care for onions, I made it without, and it was still delicious! This recipe can also be made in advance and frozen or refrigerated until ready to bake and serve. Next time, I think I might make a double batch, serve one right away, and freeze the other for later.

  • 16oz box rotini pasta
  • 6 cups pasta sauce (your favorite jarred sauce or homemade recipe)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Boil pasta according to directions on package.
  2. Combine ricotta cheese, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella.
  3. Pour 1/3 of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
  4. Layer 1/2 of the rotini on top of the sauce.
  5. Spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture over the pasta layer.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5.
  7. Top with remaining 1/3 of pasta sauce and 1/2 cup shredded mozarella.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Best Cleaner EVER!

Forget that product which claims to scrub softly.  Or any other scouring cleaner on the shelves at your local store.  This might be the only one you will ever need!

Pour some baking soda in a bowl - add enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste.  And to go work!

Here's my stove before cleaning. 
Side by side: the left has been cleaned - the right has not
And after!
It also took some old coffee and juice stains out of my counter top without having to resort to using a bleach cleaner. 

My only complaint/warning about using this cleaner is that it does leave a residue after unless you do a lot of wiping to rinse off. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Simple Weeknight Lasagna

My family loves lasagna. The problem is that it's not exactly an easy week night dinner.  Too much work.  Takes too long to prepare.

Fortunately for them (and for me) I have found a solution we can all be happy with:
Ravioli Lasagna!

Three ingredients:  
Pasta sauce (I made up an easy tomato and meat sauce, but you could also use a jarred sauce if you prefer) Frozen cheese filled ravioli
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Put a little sauce in the bottom of your pan, make a layer of ravioli, more sauce, a layer of mozzarella, another layer of raviolis, the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the cheese.  

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Simple week night lasagna!  

shhh... don't tell my family - but I also chopped up some baby spinach and added it to the sauce.  Extra veggies!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Supreme Monkey Bread

We ate so much Monkey Bread while I was growing up I'm surprised I never turned into a monkey! I even think it was the first thing I was allowed to make without supervision, because it isn't technical and the only danger is the hot oven. It is SO easy and SOOOO delicious and obviously timeless. This recipe is the same old Monkey Bread but better (if that is even possible) only because of one added ingredient!! Perfect for that weekend breakfast or brunch treat.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 cans refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
Maple syrup

1. Spray a bundt cake pan with cooking spray.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Mix sugar and cinnamon in a gallons size ziplock bag. Cut each biscuit into quarters and add to bag. Shake the bag to coat the biscuit pieces.
4.  Squirt some maple syrup in the bundt pan and swirl it to coat sides and bottom then place biscuit pieces in pan.

5.  Mix melted butter and brown sugar together and pour over the biscuits in the pan.

6.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.Cool about 5 minutes and then turn upside down. This is best served warm from the oven. Cut a slice and put on a plate or you can pick at it like a monkey as the name indicates.

Sorry about half of it missing. I couldn't get a picture before it got attacked. Ha! Ha! It's that good!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fall Festive-tini

Every month my husband and I try a new alcoholic beverage that we've never had before and we call it Drink of the Month. It's a good way to try new drinks and it's also fun! This month it was his turn and he decided we needed a drink to welcome some cooler weather.  This is a variation of an apple martini with a fall twist. What better cold weather beverage than apple cider? YUM!!


3 oz. vodka
3 oz. peach schnapps  (we used peach brandy because we already had it)
3 1/2 apple cider
3 oz. ginger ale
1 apple (for garnish)

Put ice cubes in a cocktail shaker then add the vodka, peach schnapps, apple cider, and ginger ale. Cover and shake. Make sure to pause and take the lid off slowly to allow the carbonated air out a few times during the shaking process and when you're done. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with an apple slice!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Simple DIY Doorknob Redo

My family recently moved to a new home, and while it is a beautiful house, many of the appliances and features are very dated, so we've set out on a mission to update and upgrade our home. Many DIY projects have begun, which I will try to share with you - starting with a REALLY simple but effective one. Door knobs!

Apparently whoever owned our home before loved shiny brass, which, unfortunately, I detest. It reminds me of the 70/80s decor when I was growing up, and even then I remember not being too fond of it's shininess. If you're a brass lover - my apologies - but if not, read on...

At first, we were thinking - "hey, let's replace all these door knobs with new ones in a finish that we like", then when we started pricing door knobs and counting just how many of them are in our home, we decided to look for another alternative. Queue the idea music and the light bulb...

Why not just spray paint the knobs? and that's just what we did - we got ourselves a couple of cans of this handy, dandy stuff and got to work.

I am loving the finished product! We chose an Oil Rubbed Bronze, but this paint comes in many different finishes, and it can be used on metal, plastic and wood. Voila! the tacky brass is gone for a fraction of the cost of replacing all those knobs! I'm planning to repaint a metal lamp with it next, and who knows what else?! I can just feel all the ideas popping up.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dry Erase Menu Board

Tired of hearing "What's for dinner?" everyday?  This might be the solution to that little problem!
A dry erase family menu board!

 Please don't judge me by my menu...

It's just about the easiest thing in the world to make!(It took less time than making most dinners)

Just type up the header and days of the week in the font of your choice.  Be sure to leave plenty of space between each day!

Print onto scrap booking paper or card stock. 

Place menu in a frame. (I used a cheap inexpensive one from the dollar store)

Hot glue magnet strips to back of frame.  (I tried the self sticky ones - they came off quickly, resulting in the a menu on the kitchen floor. Trust me here - just use the glue and save the time and trouble)

Write the meals next to the appropriate day using dry erase markers. 

And the next time someone says "Mom, what's for dinner tonight?" - Just point at the fridge!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Painted Knife Block

As soon as I saw this on Pinterest:

A light bulb went off.  I knew immediately that my knife block could use a little makeover!

A couple of coats of craft paint and a little distressing with some sandpaper later:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Greek Chicken and Salad

Greek Chicken and Salad

  • Chicken thighs (bone- in, skin-on)
  • 3 sprigs Oregano (leaves pulled)
  • 1/2 bunch Mint (leaves torn)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (smashed)
  • 1 Lemon (zest and juice) plus more to garnish
  • Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/4 cup Olives (pitted and chopped)
  • crumbled Feta (to taste)
  • 1 cup Spring Mix
  • Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper

Chop the herbs and combine with olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Reserve half the marinade, and set aside.

Add the chicken and coat in the remaining half of the marinade. Allow to marinate for up to 1 hour.

Place chicken skin-side down. Cook until skin is golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. Flip and continue to cook on the second side for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove chicken from heat and allow to rest while preparing the salad.
To Prepare Salad: toss together tomatoes, olives, spring mix, and feta with the reserved marinade and season to taste. 


Plate chicken  and top with a side of salad.


Recipe adapted from The Chew's Michael Symon's Greek Style Grilled Chicken
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